This is the first of a three part race recap of the Hoorah 2 Heroes Hill Raiser Endurance Challenge. Parts two and three will deal with each part of the two-day race.

Mike and I after a recent Team RWB chapter run.

The first time Mike and I meet to form our local Team Red, White and Blue chapter, we brainstormed on which groups we wanted to partner with for activities.

Jay’s name was the first that came up. The sheriff’s deputy leads Hoorah 2 Heroes, a group that honors our community’s heroes. While the majority of its members have ties with law enforcement, emergency response or the military, the group honors all heroes — teachers, parents, etc. It’s goals align perfectly with Team RWB’s, which is to bring civilians and the military together to help enrich veterans’ lives through social and physical activity.

Soon after Jay was mentioned, I joined the H2H Facebook group. Oh it was scary. They were flipping tires and doing stuff in the dark. They did that stuff with ropes. It seemed so hard core.

They also were getting ready to host their first Hill Raiser Endurance Challenge. Jay talked to me a few times asking if I wanted to come. I wanted to, but I worked on Saturdays and I was scared, so I declined.

After the race, seeing the photos and hearing from our Team RWB members who said they twisted their ankles, fell or whatnot, I knew I wouldn’t have been able to complete the race.

Later in the year, I found time to participate in H2H workouts. The group has a saying “When was the last time you did something for the first time.” With H2H, I was doing a lot of  things for the first time — flipping tires, using sledgehammers, working ropes, carrying sandbags and climbing (attempting in my case) walls. Jay led up with his British accent, so understanding what he said was an accomplishment too.

It was great, when I could make it. I definitely felt it when I missed workouts. It wasn’t necessary the training that I missed. The group was supportive of everyone, regardless of their ability. They pushed you that little bit extra so you could go beyond your limits.

It was great to have that support. But as I started training for GORUCK, they started training at night for a tough mudder. H2H, and its offshoot Extreme Endurance Training, is a GORUCK affiliate. Training with them would have been a no brainer. But I had my own stuff to do and family that, at the time, needed me at home.

I worked out with the group when I could, but when Jay started to out the call for Hillraiser training, again I couldn’t make it.

So I used a trail loop at a local park. Some H2H members used it. Randy showed me the way one frigid, snowy morning and told me what H2H had told me through my training, but I didn’t believe.

Me on the training course.

This is just running. Let your body do the work. Tell your mind to shut up and enjoy the ride. You’ll be surprised at what you can do. This time, I believed. 

This year, I wanted to to the Hillraiser Challenge, but the initial two-day race was scary. It involved a Saturday night race followed by a Sunday morning race less that 12 hours later.

So, when the day only race became available, I signed up. I did my best to train, but the two-day race still simmered in my mind. I wanted to do it, but didn’t think I’d be ready. Jay said the course would be hilly and highly technical. That’s like when a race director says the course has “gently rolling hills” and you see mountains when you line up. The course would be 100 times worse.

What made me decide to sign up for the two-day race.

But the week of the race, something happened. I started getting my gear together. I found one of the memorial cards from my dad’s funeral in my pack. He would want me to try my best. Doing a one day race wasn’t my best. 

So I sent a message to Jay and signed up for the two-day race. He never said I couldn’t do it. 

And as he hugged me at the end of both races, I was proud. I stepped way, like a million miles, out of my comfort zone. I survived. As you’ll read, the first night sucked so bad that I wasn’t sure whether I’d do the second day. Then I woke up and listened to my body. I pushed myself to complete the two-day challenge.

High fives from Sean and Jay after completing day two of the challenge.

Matter over mind. I got out of my own way, and completed what I thought was impossible. 

I unleashed the hero within, and I did it with some help from my friends.

Continued on Part 2: Hills eat humans for dinner.