Last week, I took my first solo trip to Charlotte to participate in a Spartan Race. After finishing the Spartan Race Super in Chicago in August, I immediately looked for a Beast distance race to complete my Trifecta. I was already training to run a half marathon so thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do a 12-14 mile obstacle course race.
What started as a plan to race with my brother in a city where one of his best friends lives, turned into me racing solo and his friend being out of town! There goes my security blanket…
I started graduate school in August and really struggled through the first couple of months. While juggling a full class load, a graduate assistantship and very part-time work, I felt like I was losing myself to stress and exhaustion. I started to feel disconnected from friends I didn’t see as often (missing my beloved Book Club has been the worst!) and missing chances to see my husband’s family, since there is such a long stretch between holidays over the summer and fall months.
When I decided to do this race, I talked to my husband about whether or not he’d come with me. Although a weekend away sounds fun, I also knew I’d be doing homework in my spare time. So we decided I’d go alone. I was apprehensive at first, but then I realized this would be my first time away by myself. I’ve traveled a ton and am no stranger to airports. But I’ve always travelled to visits friends and family. Someone has always been waiting for me on the other end of the flight.
This trip turned into something I wanted to prove I could do: hotel, rental car, finding a grocery store before my race, restaurants…after the last couple of months, planning this trip seemed like a small gift to myself, and it gave me something to look forward to.
I was more prepared than ever when the weekend rolled around. Much to the surprise of my family, I even got to the airport early! I arrived in Charlotte without a hitch, although I won’t lie, I did get scared from time to time considering it’s dark at 5:30 and I was navigating a new city in a car that didn’t belong to me. But GPS never let me down.
I’ve done several obstacle course races and have always relied on my team to help me over walls or across the difficult obstacles. So another big challenge was knowing I’d need to ask strangers for help when I needed it. The beautiful thing about these races is that help is all around you. And I will always be the Nutcracker to the poor man who offered to help me climb over the eight foot wall. Eek!
You won’t be surprised that my only hiccup was dealing with the rental car folks. Gotta love a sales tactic that involves a virtual promise that something will go wrong and you’ll regret not getting that car insurance. Returning the car in one piece was just one of my small victories that weekend!
Whether you’re traveling solo by chance or by choice, getting away can be more than an opportunity for R&R.
Doing something you’ve never done before and stepping outside your comfortable zone, both literally and figuratively, can provide a sense of accomplishment. For me personally, my trip to Charlotte helped me regain some of what I’ve lost since going back to school. It was a small boost of encouragement that I can get through the challenges ahead of me.