Its an amazing feeling when you are finally able to step outside of yourself, realizing just how long you have been hiding from the person YOU truly are. Growing up we have all experienced a little thing called ((Peer Pressure)) – Needing to dress, eat, act a certain way. Maybe at one time you felt a little embarrassed because you couldn’t always follow the crowd when you may have wanted to and that, at times, made you feel like a “loser”. I have followed that path a VERY long time throughout my life and it only left me lost of what it is I like/enjoy and what I want to accomplish for ME, not someone else. The day I discovered the magic within OCR events was the day that changed my life, the day that made me begin to love the girl inside Laura Messner.
It was the camaraderie, the individuality, the positive energy, the push through the struggles, the forgetfulness of the daily stressors…Instantly I was hooked and with open arms felt accepted by the OCR family. It was that unconditional love, surrounded by people who want to see you succeed, always encouraging you to never stop and keep pushing forward.
Once I got a taste of a Spartan Races’ Sprint and Super course, I was hungry for a BEAST! Not only was I making more and more friends at every event, but my performance was getting better and better. However, my little dedication to my recovery and proper training in-between each race left me burnt out by the end of the South Carolina Beast in 2012 (Though I got my first trifecta-YAY). Irritated knees, swollen ankles, pulled hip flexors, I was a mess. Thing is, all this could have been avoided if I decided to ask more questions of experienced athletes. I needed to stop being ashamed of not knowing everything and stop worrying about being “perfect” in everything. I may have then been able to realize that these pains in my joints were driven by my extremely flat feet, putting my whole body’salinement off. Although if I never went through those months of not being able to train or even walk without pain shooting through my knees/ankles, I most likely would have never grown that hunger for knowledge in the sport. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason so I tried not to worry too much about the negative.
2013 did not start off easy for me. Coming off of my injuries I was very eager to jump back into the year with the Spartan Miami Super. This probably was not the brightest idea for my first race back, but I had great supporters who I met on the course as we talked, laughed and pushed ourselves to the finish line. It was the warm up I needed to focus on where I start to really struggle during a race (Hows my form? What muscles are weak and need to be strengthened? Was my morning fuel enough to last me through the whole race?). My knees weren’t happy, but man was I happy to be back. It was like adding the last piece to my incomplete puzzle.
After Miami came Citifield Stadium Spartan Race and after 2 month of training with Kevin Donoghue in NY, recovering properly after every workout and wearing appropriate orthodics, I was able to run with very little to no aches in my knees. Goes to show you its true when they say “Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.” Weird right? 😛
Not every race was or is my best, nor would I want it to be, but I definitely grew stronger mentally every time I ran. For me it was never about getting on the podium. I can honestly say I never thought I would’ve ever have the opportunity to stand up there with some of the best in OCR. I consider myself VERY blessed to have achieved that goal in such a short period of time (Cried like a baby passing the finish line—surreal moment), but podium or not it was more about proving to myself that I was capable of more. Always racing against myself and the trails/obstacles ahead of me. A constant battle- Body to Mind- Mind to Body. Even taking these new discoveries outside of OCR into your daily lives helps you to to remind yourself that you CAN overcome any obstacle life places in front of you no matter how challenging it maybe — Oh, and cheating or trying to find short cuts around them will only result in more burpees!!! 😉
So when I say that OCR and the people within OCR have changed my life I really mean it. They helped me find the courage to switch careers, helped me build a backbone with a voice to stand up for myself, constantly inspired me to never give up, and has blessed me from day one with incredible friends, many of whom I can now call family.
We all have experienced hardships and struggles in a negative world, but that never means that is the life we are made to live. We can stand around all day spilling out one excuse after another to not achieve our dreams or reach our goals (I’ve had those days plenty of times). Everyone has a story, but its important to remember that everyone also carries an opportunity to make their story better. There is always room for growth, always fears to face, and always different paths to take. Don’t settle for a life you can “tolerate” because it is something you are used to and may fall under your “comfort zone”. The world has a lot to offer us and it would be a shame not to live it to its full potential. Change is in your hands.