Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Team Illuminati Inaugural Sad Panda Endurance Challenge and Ice Cream Social... or, I'll just drink my BCAAs...

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending my race teams first ever team event! Every time I think back to it, I am just blown away at how utterly seamless and amazing it all was. I KNOW there were MANY people that worked their asses off in planning, prepping, building, advertising and just simply doing to make this happen. From the beginning, the advertising was spot on. Not too much to annoy you, but enough to be known. A promised swag bag that was actually provided. Chip timed results and placing finishers prizes that were also provided. A great venue, great course and great atmosphere... you guessed it, all provided! I was not involved in any prep or planning so I have no idea what all happened behind the scenes, all I know is my teammates but on one hell of an event and I am so proud of them.

I still remember when it was announced that we were going to be hosting our own event! So super exciting and scary all at once. I mean, how does one make their own successful event really? ...what if it is a flop? ...what if we fail? Needless to say a bunch of friends got together and started planning. Before I knew it there was a registration link! Well, holy crap! It really is happening!!! As the days got closer, the excitement started building!  Finally, it was the week of! Before I knew it, it was time to head out to Harmonie, Indiana for my team's inaugural endurance event! I woke up, went to work, went to the gym, came home, Steph showed up, we loaded up the Jeep and headed out. We finally arrived at the cabins around 3am-ish and got settled in. Since my OCD always gets the best of me, I had to unload and unpack right then! Finally crashed out about 4am and was up at 7ish. Michelle and Matt and I sat around talking for a bit and then Michelle Rayman stopped by to throw some food in the fridge. This was all very strange to me as since I knew I wasn't participating, I had no pre-race adrenaline and was just totally chill. Packet pickup was at 9am so we headed over to the site and were greeted by Travis the Panda and a gorgeous venue! Team tents, music, an official start / finish line, chipped timing, gear tent, med tent... to say I was amazed would be putting it mildly. There were run and ruck divisions with prizes for 1st - 3rd male and female runners, and 1st place for male and female ruckers. The challenge started at approximately 10am and it was a 5 mile loop- winners were figured by how many laps they completed and what the time was that they completed them in. The event ended at 4pm. During that time I hung out with some of the coolest kids in the world! We hung out at the venue, went to the park, went back to the cabins, back to the venue. Cheered on runners and ruckers and just basically enjoyed the day. After the event was over, winners announced and presented, team announcements made, and the venue and course packed away, we all headed over to the cabins for the ice cream social and potluck. First things first... next cookout, someone bring charcoal! Please! Thank goodness Toni and Chris took over, got a fire going in the pit and cooked all the food. And there was a lot of food! Kudos to everyone that chipped in, there was definitely not a shortage of food and drink! A very heartfelt THANK YOU to Adam with Mudocalypse for providing all of the hydration and nutrition for the event and the ice cream for the social! You guys rock!  After everyone was full of burgers, ice cream, cake, chips, and Jeff and Jennifer's home brewed beers and ales, we packed up and headed over to the auditorium. Hello, epic dance party! Thank you Steve for setting everything up- it was fan-freaking-tastic! Huge projection screen on stage for a Dance Central dance off! David emceed and had a bracket ready and everything! The dance competition commenced and again, winners were announced! TROPHIES were awarded! Yes, real trophies!!!! I was beat, so I headed back to the cabins to drop Deb off and then head to bed myself. Matt and Michelle and I stayed up and talked a bit then it was time for bed after a really long day. I slept so well! Happy to have been able to share this day with my team. Sunday everyone packed up, cleaned up and said their good-byes... until next time Illuminati! I love you guys!!!! ...and I am so honored to be part of the best team in the world!

A few things I took away from this... There are still a lot of just good, kind people in this world. I love my team. I have great friends. It is possible to be around cake and cupcakes and brownies and cookies and ice cream and chocolate truffles and chocolate covered pretzels and M&Ms and cheesecake and pretzel crisps and beer and..... actually NOT eat or drink any of it. Being in prep for figure competition had me worried about actually going this past weekend. I weighed, measured, and brought all of my own food. And I did FUCKING FANTASTIC!!!!! Not one slip up... I didn't even lick the frosting off my fingers from organizing desserts! I just made my son eat everything- poor kid, I ate vicariously through him! I drank my water, drank my BCAAs, ate my food... and it was good. I left not feeling guilty about anything... just happy. And damn straight I went right to GameStop to pick up a copy of Dance Central... watch out guys... I'm dancing next time too!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What Brought Me Here...

Quite often I reflect on what brought me to where I am today. Right now. I look back to the young woman that had always tried to be strong and independent...and happy. I remember the times I enjoyed beer and pizza, truly enjoyed it... and the amount of times I said, "I'm not a runner. I don't run." This young woman worked hard and played hard....but was always looking for happiness and love.
All of this is still true. However I am older, and I'd like to think, wiser....
Rewind to 2011... I'll try to make a long story short... I did say try, so turn back now if you'd like...
I hated running. I tried eating "clean" and "working out" at home. I turned into "skinny fat" and would crack open a beer at noon on Sundays during the summer. I was happy.
2012, I was introduced to Obstacle Course Races. Typical of me I dove right into them. I joined crossfit. I ran my first road race. Then I ran more OCRs and road races. I ate paleo. I was happy.
2013, a boy came along and against my better judgement, and after MUCH reflection I can say this honestly... AGAINST MY BETTER JUDGEMENT... I started to like him. What was supposed to be an innocent fling... shut up... don't judge me. You've all been there at one point, and if you haven't there was a time you wish you had.... started to turn into something more. He told me he loved me. I cried and smiled. Lots more races, travel, races, travel. He proposed! We started planning a wedding. Ok, Ok... I started planning a wedding. I was happy.
2014, he broke up with me. I was devastated. It felt as if my entire being had been ripped in half. I knew better than to trust and love someone that much. I made friends and I lost "friends"... well, I didn't lose friends, as true friends can never be lost... so I lost... people? Sheep? Not sure, and it doesn't really matter. I was very sick, my cousin died, and I was heart broken. Time does heal all wounds... so does focus. I realized NO ONE had the right to have that much control over me. Especially a lying, thieving, criminal who quite literally stole from his own friends and "family". I found my focus. I poured myself into training. I worked hard, I played hard, I ran, I traveled. More races, more travel. I started and finished the summer death race, I made new friends. I love my new friends. I kept my real friends. I love my real friends. Thank you to those that are still here and for being real.  I dated another guy. It never really felt "right", but he was nice to me. I needed nice. Then I became a free golden ticket and I vowed I would never let that happen again. I walked away. I fell back on my family. I got up. I fell again, and again... each time rising higher and higher. I got injured, depressed, healed and found a new focus. I was happy.
2015, I feel truly alive. For the first time ever. Healthier than ever. Brighter than ever. More forthcoming than ever. I have released anyone and anything that caused me self doubt or shame, headache or heartache. I have a stable group of friends. I have an amazing family. I have a job. I have a home. I have it all. I have everything in the world because I have peace, focus, and love in my heart. I am still...happy.

Monday, August 4, 2014

You Can Only STFU For So Long

So a month after Summer Death Race I still find myself completely unmotivated. The worst part is that I don't care that I don't have any motivation. Weird, huh? In conversation with a really good friend, she mentioned it took her 3-4 months to fully recover from an ultra event she had previously taken part in. She also finished that event with an injury.
An injury totally lowers any motivation even more than just the PTSD! She has long since bounced back and is doing crazy awesome epic shit, so I know there is hope for me too! I figure, if I can eat right, at least I can stay lean. Right? However, when you aren't working out it makes it really hard to stay on track! I've started using My Fitness Pal again and I have an amazing support group to try and keep me focused, but then I find myself at home. On the couch. Watching TV. Annnnndddd.... before I know it, I'm eating bananas smothered in Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, with a side of Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter and maybe some Chocolate Milk to wash it all down with. Then, the "not hungry but bored" Monster creeps in and I find myself looking for ANYTHING to shove in my face. I do great during the week, but weekends just kill me. I am trying to find other ways to stay active. Really, I am! I went for a walk... my knee kept buckling. Crap! I attempted push ups and sit ups, at least, at home, but I quickly lost interest. My ADD kicks in and I'm picking fuzz up off the ground which results in organizing the book shelf which leads to looking at old books. Problem...I like to lift. I like to lift heavy things. But...I need someone to push me through, motivate me, tell me what to pick up and put down, and how many times. Flip side... bum knee makes it really hard to walk anywhere, especially into the gym. It's that revolving cycle of, I need to workout! I need to go to the gym! Well, I'm injured, I need to recover, I can barely walk for too long. However, I need to STFU and go workout. Sure, but what if I do more damage?  I think it's safe to say I STFU for a long time, which may be why I am in the position I am in.  I know it's good I am FINALLY listening to my body and attempting to rest and recover, but man does it suck. It's unfortunate though that I may end up like White Goodman if I don't start doing something soon! Mmmmm....Fried Chicken! I have an MRI tomorrow and then follow up with the doc later this week. Once that all happens, then at least I will have a better idea of how bad my knee is and what will happen next. Yes, it is bad... I knew that during Summer Death Race. I tried to ignore it and kept pushing on and on, however after the ultra I did in July, I knew it was time to get it checked.
X-Rays showed Patellofemoral Arthritis, which is basically arthritis under the kneecap. It causes pain in front of your knee and can make it difficult to kneel and climb stairs. Doc also saw a torn ACL and believes there may be some chunks of cartilage floating around in kneecap space. We have started cortisone shots and scheduled physical therapy for the arthritis in the hopes that will help that issue. Continued Physical Therapy and Cortisone for now and if the cortisone does not work, we will attempt gel injections. At this point I have no idea how the rest of my year will pan out. What I do know is that I need to get this fixed so I can continue on happily in this crazy lifestyle and keep going after bigger and better things! If I do need surgery, I can only hope I will come back on stable legs and can quickly recover and build up any atrophied muscles! Please send as many happy thoughts my way as you can during this period of the unknown! I'll be back in no time...hopefully!

Monday, July 7, 2014

What are you made of? Summer Death Race 2015... The Year of the Explorer

Never say never, right? Quick rewind to the beginning of 2012. I had been asked if I had ever heard of a Warrior Dash. My answer was no. As I was looking up Warrior Dash, a side banner popped up for Spartan Race. Now that sounded way cooler than a Warrior Dash. As I was reading the Spartan Race website the tab for The Death Race caught my eye. I KNEW I COULD NEVER do that! So fast forward to 2013 and over 50 different races under my feet, I found myself crewing at Summer Death Race 2013. It was that moment that I KNEW I WOULD NEVER do one. Fast forward again to the beginning of 2014. Sick as a dog- practically on bed rest for 30 days, heart broken and depleted I had a lot of time to think. Then my cousin passed away. It was that moment that I knew I needed to start living. I tossed around the idea to myself and reached also out to some DR veterans that I truly respected. All came back to me with a resounding... YOU CAN DO IT! Sooooo, I figured, fuck it, why not? I registered. I WAS GOING TO DO IT! I knew I had some work to do. I started researching gear and reaching out to friends for training tips and advice. I changed up my training and added more functional movements with Coach Dewayne. I started swimming and worked up to at least 1 day of 1 mile per week. My amazing friends created some epic training weekends for me, which they also took part in. All leading up to this day. Finally. It was here. I wasn't scared, I was anxious. Just ready for it to start already. The past 5 months all led up to this moment. I knew it would be tough, but as was my response to everyone that gave me well wishes and told me that skull would be mine, I would do my best. See, it was never about the skull for me. I had something to prove to myself. I had to face some realities that were too easy to ignore. I knew this race would change me.
It did.
I could talk more about the events leading up to SDR. From watching a team fail me, to being part of the rise of a new team. Not having a crew, to having the most amazing crew a girl could ask for. From feeling alone to knowing I had the world at my side. However, you don't want to read about that. Watch any Lifetime movie, same end result. Anyway, we arrived in Pittsfield early Thursday. I took Dan and Elizabeth to The Original General Store and we ate breakfast. We saw Andy Weinberg and he very kindly offered me my registration back if I just quit now. Yes, the games have begun. I smiled and laughed along with him and said not a chance. The excitement was building. I then took Dan and Elizabeth to the main checkpoints so they knew where we would be at. Ahhhh.... yes, we would be doing something with that great big pile of rocks!
Then we headed to our home for the next few days. The rest of the day was spent getting settled in, gear prep, meeting up with old friends, meeting new friends and then heading out to registration. Registered, dinner eaten, finally met THE wonderful Ray Morvan and we headed back to the house. I unpacked and repacked my pack a million times. With the help of my SISU family I finally got it figured out! Prepped my race clothes and we all did some foot maintenance...thanks again Rebecca...and then I reluctantly went to bed. Sleep came easy though.
Friday morning. It's go time. I was excited, focused and ready. After we checked in, all of the racers met in the corral and we had a quick briefing. This was going to be a real race. True time cutoffs and everything. I couldn't wait to get started. The entire time I knew to just have fun. That's what I was there for. Death Racers share a common bond... a true lust for life. We see things differently. Some of us are fast, some are super strong, some just believe in truly living each day, however we all have an unbreakable spirit and will to continue. From the beginning I knew I would not quit. I gave myself 2 reasons that would allow me to drop. And I didn't dwell on either of them. I had too many mother fuckers to prove wrong. Including myself. The next 66+ hours were among the most amazing I have ever spent in my life. From time trials, to team building, to individual tasks and everything in between. I faced my demons and as the proverbial patch says, I punched them in the face. I am slow, I am not super strong, but I have endurance and I can go on for days and days....

This was the Summer Death Race. I literally just went task to task, not thinking too much about what was coming next. I smiled and laughed. This was living. I saw so many other racers with despair on their faces. I would smile at them. Hopefully they caught that smile and passed it on to someone else. After all, we all need a little reassurance at times. I made all the time cuts, made it through all the mental bullshit, made it through to another day. Then the yellow bus and the white bus showed up. I chose the yellow bus. I don't know why, I just did. Don't think, just do, right? Since the finish, I have rethought my decision many times, but I'll get to that. We boarded and drove around. Some racers slept, some freaked out. I just enjoyed the view.
We ended up back at Riverside and this is where the shit started. More mind games, more of you're ending up here, but first you must go there. But first, back up the stone steps. So, at this point, both of my knee caps felt like they were going to explode right out of my skin, more ibuprofen, yes please? Knee braces? ...yes!!! I was slow, but I made it. I caught up to some other racers and as we headed down, we ran into a crew/support person. She had gone up to get the paper for 6 racers that couldn't make it. THAT COULDN'T FUCKING MAKE IT. You know who you are, I can only speculate. However I know who passed me on that mountain and who didn't. I hope you are proud of your finish. All I know is that I did every fucking burpeebackroll and trip up and down the mountain that I was tasked with. #DFQ! At least I can look back and know I am not a cheat. Back to the race... we had some more fun little tasks to do and I still felt like a million bucks. I was very watchful of others. Quite a few weren't looking so hot and I tried to keep my eye on them. Little did I know I was moments away from getting my bib pulled. Maybe I was too overly confident? I figured at this point that there was no way I could not be considered a finisher.....

Funny how wrong you can be. It is The Death Race. It is their rules, it's their game. You just have to play along and learn to just handle each task at hand....

As we were headed back to Peter's house a fellow racer fell hard. I helped her up and called for another racer to grab the other half of her trekking pole that had broken. Another racer came over to assist. She fell again, we helped her up again. She fell a third time. He grabbed her arm and I told her to give me her pack. I stayed behind her in case she fell again. Unfortunately I bailed over the waterfall and they got ahead of me. It didn't matter. By sticking with her I had dropped to the last 5. We got our bibs pulled. It was as if they stole my soul. There was no question but to continue on. I was told I would not be considered a finisher and I would not receive a skull. However, I COULD continue on. So I did. Funny how she couldn't look me in the eye when she asked for assistance in putting her water bottles away and realized it was me that was beside her. Of course I smiled and still helped her. I guess what angered me was the fact that she never said thank you. Not even once. Another 5 were going to be pulled after racing back to Riverside. 4 of the 5 of us decided to continue on. I thought, let's be the last 5 - they already pulled our bibs, they can't do it again. Another racer said, lets be super fast and maybe get our bibs back? It all made perfect sense to us at the time... none of that mattered though- we were out, no matter what.

Everyone took off and as they pushed their way through the trail all kinds of gear and trash started falling out of the pack. So of course, I picked it up. As I made my way back to Riverside I saw the racer I had helped as one of the last 5. Imagine my surprise when I saw her with her bib on for the next task. Later I found out she refused to give it up. I wonder if that would have worked for me? Probably not. I wanted to question it, but why bother. It wouldn't change anything. Maybe this is the entitlement that Joe Desena was talking about? Hmmm....very interesting to me. After I took my pack off I saw everyone doing PT with 80# cement bags. The bags all started splitting. So of course I immediately fell into helper mode and started to duct tape bags and look for garbage bags for everyone. I even ran back to my base camp and grabbed what we had there. They all take off and then I asked if I could do this task too. I was given the ok and I went and found a sandbag and headed out. Thank you Jason for sticking with me. A lot happened out there on those trails. 
People were helped, people cried, people wanted to quit. That's their story to tell, not mine, you may read about it, you may not. I made it to Miguel's cabin and as I headed back to Riverside, I had that long awaited breakdown. There is was...I ran. I cried. I cried and I ran. I tried to run from my failure. I let everyone down. There would be no skull to present to my team, my supporters. I fought with myself that I was NO Death Racer. That I didn't belong out there. That I should have stayed on the other side of the fence. As crew, support, or a volunteer. Did I really think I belonged there? Did I really think I had what it took? I still fight with that. Not as bad thanks to my friends that have tried to make me see what I did was right, but that feeling of failure is still present at times. As my dear friend Daren had said, I ran my race with honor and integrity, and he was proud of me. This is where I think if I chose the white bus I would have been considered a finisher. I also would have probably cried the entire time, being the sap that I am. I am slightly jealous of the time they had, although the hospice home would have unearthed memories of my father....
My Death Race destiny had been chosen and followed and I know I did do my best. I stayed true and did what I thought was right. I didn't cut any corners and helped so many along the way. Now we wait for the white bus to return. We got to hang out in the corral. We could eat, sleep, whatever. Then I got kicked out. Heather, I know you didn't want to, and it hurt being kicked out of the corral. I felt like an outsider. Not really belonging anywhere. So, I started cleaning the base camp area. I started with all of my gear. Still ready to head out again if we had to, but basically putting everything in it's place. Then I cleaned up the picnic table area and looked for trash. I think I finally laid down around midnight. Wrapped in my buckskin on a thin camp pad at a Weber grill fire. I never felt so alone. Finally the white bus came back and skulls were awarded. I cried tears of joy hearing every one's name being called. That was it, it was over. My SISU team was there with hugs and words of encouragement and we headed home. My crew, my amazing crew were all snuggled up in bed and I just wanted to hug each and every one of them. Ben and I sat up for awhile drinking and talking, I needed it, it was much needed therapy after the therapy that is The Summer Death Race. Then it was 5am...It was over. 110+ miles, 66+ hours... over.
So many emotions, so much darkness and light faced. I found what I am made of and know I revel in the fact that I accomplished more good in 66 hours than some people do in a lifetime. Yet through all of that, I can't help but feel I let people down, but I know I did my best and I never fucking quit. Not ever. In this lifetime and the next, Live Each Day! Team Death Race? Maybe... Summer Death Race 2015? Definitely! More smiles, more laughter... I think I'll just stay on the other side of the lake this time <3

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Lazy Ass and the Spartan Race World Championship Vermont Beast

There will come a time in your life when you are faced with a decision that you may or may not really want to deal with.  You will be forced to though.  And, it's going to suck.
  Like most of our road trips, the week of, I was anxious, excited, and slightly overwhelmed.  I couldn't concentrate on anything and just wanted to get on the road.  There always seems like so much to do and this time we were hosting a house full of 15 Corn Fed Spartans. WTF?  How can I pack everything I need plus make sure I have everything for everyone else?  I think I did a pretty ok job, only forgetting extra socks.  The trip truly commenced once I got to Fort Wayne to collect Jon and Heather.  We talked and laughed practically the whole way there which made time go by quickly.  Much needed in a 16 hour road trip!  Pineapples!  When we finally hit Vermont, I could already feel our excitement turn into pure electricity.  It was in the air.  We stopped at the race site and volunteers were still planning and prepping.  It was before 7am on Friday.  Shit.  We're really here.  That whole day was one of unpacking and settling in.  Throughout the day our guests started to arrive and I started to cook.  And cook.  I think I made 10 pounds of pasta.  I did have a quiet moment when everyone left to check out the race site.  That gave me some time to really think about what the weekend had in store for me.  I came to the realization that I may have bitten off more than I could chew, or climb.  I had a positive outlook though and knew that i would do my best.  Friends came and went most of the evening until we finally shut it down.  We all had a big weekend ahead of us and needed a good night's sleep.
  Honestly, most of the weekend is already a blur to me.  We woke up with plenty of time to hang out, socialize, help each other get ready, logo up and get over to the venue.  We were super close which was awesome, seriously a 10 minute walk!  As excited as I was, I felt a little off that morning.  I was a little irritable and short tempered which is very unlike me.  I had No patience at the merch tent when they couldn't get a signal to run credit cards, so I grabbed my friend Amy to help.  Maybe I was just ready to get on that mountain?  Heather and I wandered our nomadic butts around a bit hitting 2 merch tents, the street team tent and the Wall of Valor.  NEED to sign the Wall!  To me it signifies the beginning and the end.  Sign at the beginning and old Walls get burned at the finish of other races or turned into other obstacles.  Either way it is a sign of continuation or completion to me.
We take our team picture and head over to the start.  There is a wall to get over to even get you into the starting corral.  I haven't had problems with walls in quite some time, but this one took me a few attempts to get over.  Not a good way to start this race.  Lined up at the start, laughing, smiling, taking pictures, hugging, high fives... it all kind of blurred together.  Then we were off!  Wait, I'm not ready for this!  My workouts have been slacking, my diet has gone to shit, who the hell am I fooling?  I don't belong out here!  Heather and I kept the same pace and jogged for a bit, then elevation hit early as did an allergy attack.  So not only could I not breathe, well, I couldn't breathe!  Fuck!  We slowed down to a nice mountain hike pace and I tried to catch my breath. I think Jon finally realized I was no where near him because he stopped, turned around and waited for us to catch up with a big smile on his face.  The first 2 miles were killer.  Seriously.  That is where I broke.
Somewhere in that first 2 miles, I snapped my knee and it felt like a had a huge muscle strain in my hip/ass area.  Oh sweet Jesus did it hurt.  I kept stopping and tried stretching it to no avail.  So, I kept climbing up and butt scooting down.  I tried not to let on how much  pain I was really in, but damn did it hurt.  I tried not to complain, but for once, I was the hurt one.  The slow one.  The one that caused everyone else to wait.  I felt awful making everyone wait. I Quasimodo'd my way up that mountain and kept trying to push past once I caught up to everyone.  Many times they had been resting for 10+ minutes, I could not make them wait any longer.  Heather kept asking if I needed to rest and my response was usually, "Nope, I'm good.  I'm just going to keep going."  About mile 6 was where my spirits had completely broken and I knew there was no way I could do the Ultra the next day.  I felt like I was letting my friends down, myself down, and mostly, Jon.  He and I were going to do that together.  We had been looking forward to it.  Now, here I was unsure if I would even finish this race, let alone go out for another 30 miles the next day.  Mile 7 and I really had to fight the urge to exit the course.  I was literally chewing on extra strength Motrin hoping it would dull the pain.  Nothing was helping.  The entire course was a blur.  I don't remember much at all.  I do remember hating the bucket carry and talking to said bucket all the way up and back down the mountain.  I remember seeing men poke holes in sandbags while I carried a full 60# bag all the way up and then all the way down.  I remember dreading walls because I could barely bend my knee.  Barbed wire?  Even rolling hurt.  Herc Hoist and Atlas carry that i normally excel at, I struggled with.  The sun started going down and I started to get worried.
Not again.  I can't be out here at night again.  I need to try and hurry and get done.  My pace would pick up on the straightaways and I tried to jog as fast as I could.  Over and over I was informed, "This is the last uphill", until we hit another one.  It was drizzling, I was cold, I hurt, my pride was destroyed and my spirits were demolished.  Just finish!  I knew we were dangerously close to getting pulled for time cut offs too so I tried to go as fast as I could.  All of my teammates were so wonderful.  Literally catching me, boosting me, pulling and pushing me.  At one point, Michael informed me my issue was more than likely what is called, "Lazy Ass Syndrome" which was good for some much needed comic relief!  We laughed about my Lazy Ass through the rest of the course!  Finish.  That's all I need to do.  Finally we heard we were about 1/4 mile from the end.  I had never been so excited to finish a race.  Fire jump, gladiators, medal, banana!  We made it.  I may or may not have cried a little in relief that it was over!  We saw Stephanie, Missy and Chad at the finish and gave hugs all around.  I recall looking at Chad and saying, "I don't think I can do the Ultra tomorrow."  The look in his eyes said it all and I knew he was hurting somewhere too.  Overall, it was an amazing course.  Tougher than I could have ever imagined.  Definitely showed my many weaknesses and that I have a lot of work to do.  I left this race feeling like a failure.  My performance and attitude were amazingly awful.  I felt like I let everyone down and my pride was crushed.  I had people question my ability to do both days and I proved them right.  Typically being the eternal optimist, this was really, really hard to take in.  I wanted a pity party.  I wanted to scream and cry.  Instead, I smiled.  I had work to do.  I had a house full of people to get to, stories to hear, and most important, I had to get Jon ready for the Ultra.  I chewed down another Motrin and got to hobbling!
  We get back to the house to the scent of bacon and that electrical buzz of happiness, excitement and anger.  Different stories of DNF or completion.  All I knew was the pain in my Lazy Ass.  I literally could not concentrate on anything other than the pain.  I walked room to room in a fog.  Thank goodness Megan stepped up and started cooking for everyone.  At one point, Jon rushed past me saying, "I thought you were going to help, but obviously you aren't."  That snapped me out of my own selfish world and back to the task at hand.  Get bin ready and dropped off.  Well, I fucked that all up too.  We got the bin packed, got his pack packed and headed out the door in the cold rain.  I had Wobbly Barn on the brain because that is the last thing I remember before the Motrin cloud took over.  Guess what?  Wrong.  We did see the amazing Ms Carrie Adams for 2 seconds, but we were on a mission.  Sorry I couldn't chat Carrie, I really wanted to.  Back to the house for instruction and then on to Snow Shed Lodge.  Looks like we were too late.  We were told to be at Bear Mountain at 5am the next day.  Time to go back home.
  We snuck off to bed early and tried to get some sleep.  4am came very quickly.  Jon mentioned that he really did not want to go out, but he had to.  In typical Spartan Race fashion, we covered much ground before we got where we needed to be.  Can you say cluster fuck?  Anyway, I got Jon to the start line and then had to attempt a bin drop, for the 3rd time.  Denise was there ready and willing to help which was much appreciated since I could barely walk.  We ran into Todd and he told me he would help.  Were things finally going my way?  I hobbled over to my Jeep and cruised over to the venue to meet Todd.  He kept driving.  I figured Denise was with him and that was the signal to just follow.  This would be my 2nd trip to Bear Mountain that day.  Bin dropped and back to the house to make real food to bring to Todd and put in the bin.  I felt bad as I was cooking because I think our guests thought I was cooking for them.  There was plenty of food for them, they just had to cook it.  Getting real food in that bin was my top priority at that moment.  I headed to the venue to visit Heather and ran into some other friends along the way!  I got to see Katie and Craig and Minions which always makes me smile and a few others.  Unfortunately, I was in go mode and couldn't stick around.  Back to Bear Mountain.  The rest was a blur.  Talking with volunteers, talking to Ultra Racers, meeting new people, hugging old friends.  Waiting, and waiting....and waiting!  Back to the venue, maybe I can volunteer somewhere for a bit?  Nope, can't be away in case he shows up.  Final trip to Bear Mountain.  There he is!  Flipping a log like its nothing.  I was at the end of his lane, snapping pictures for a bit before he noticed me.  "Hey baby! How are you?" he says with a big smile on his face.  I said, "I'm fine!  I'm warm and dry, how are you?"  We exchange quick kisses and he heads out again.  Opting to not do burpees and hit his bin.  More waiting.....  Finally I see Todd and Paul at the bin drop.  They are in great spirits and look fantastic.  Jon shows up a short time later.  He changes socks, grabs a full bladder, gets some food and refills his pack.  Then he's off again.  I grab the bin and coffee pot that I brought and start hobbling back to the Jeep.  At least he is making good time and seems to be in good spirits!  Back to the house, back to the venue.  More Motrin and more friends.  After a bit, we see Todd, Jon and Paul all together coming down the hill, headed toward the under water wall, then the rope climb.  Through a pipe, barb wire crawl, cargo net, more water, traverse wall and he's off again.  This was where Heather and I deemed ourselves his number 1 fans!  President and Vice President right here.  We may have buttons made!  We knew we had some time to warm up so we headed back over to the house.  We gave ourselves 45 minutes. Back at the Tyrolean Traverse and more waiting.  he sun was going down quickly, the wind was picking up and it temps were dropping.  The Medics shut down the obstacle for safety reasons and the 7pm time cut was quickly gaining on everyone.  We saw  Todd cross.  Then comes Paul.  Wait, they pull Paul back.  As he walks up to us he said they took his chip.  He didn't make the cutoff.  He said Jon was behind him.  Fuck!  Not again!  Not another DNF with only 4 miles to go.  How could that be?  Jon was way ahead of them.  There had to be a mistake.  Heather and I listened to Norm tell countless racers that they missed the cutoff and he needed to take their chip.  It was devastating.  Norm asked us over and over, "Are you sure Jon has not passed? God, I really don't want to have to tell him again that I need to take his chip!"  We weren't sure, we were just going by what we had been told.  It didn't feel right standing there, but we couldn't leave.  Chad messaged me that he was with Paul and was Jon with us?  Fuck, where was he???  After what seemed like eternity, Chad messaged me that Jon had finished!  I was ecstatic and so proud of him!  I tried to run/ walk/ hobble over there as fast as I could!  I was also pissed at myself for not being there for him.  He told me he would see me at the finish, and I was not there!  I let him down again!  It seemed like it took forever to get there.  The bridge we had to go over appeared to be getting longer like out of a bad, scary movie!  Chad informed me he sent Jon to the lodge to warm up so that is where we headed.  Heather exclaimed, "There he is!"  I ran into his arms and almost cried with the overwhelming amount of pride I felt for him!  He was cold, hungry and exhausted!  Time to go...
  After a hot shower and some warm, dry clothes then a bit of driving around, we settled at Jax for dinner!  Food, beer and the best waitress ever!  We headed back home and settled in.  Honestly, nothing really matters after this moment.  I failed.  He did not.  I do believe had I gone out, he would not have finished.  He would have stuck with me and I would have held him back.  Funny how things happen.  After cleaning up the house and packing up, Jon, Maggie, Heather and I went to breakfast.  I felt an overwhelming sense of pride for our team.  Corn Fed was everywhere.  Running the Sprint, running the Beast, running the Ultra, rabbit and sweeper for the Kid's race, a Team for the Charity Race, support for Danny, support for Amanda... we were everywhere!  Some running 2 and 3 races!  Then I felt that pity party coming on again.  With tears in my eyes, I blurted out, "I feel like I didn't do anything this weekend!  I just did the Beast!"  Yes, I do understand how ridiculous that sounds.  I do understand that there was a 60% failure rate.  I do understand I should be proud of what I did accomplish.  I still feel like a failure.  Did I learn a lot?  Yes.  Will I try again next year?  Yes.  Do I have a shit ton of work to do before then?  Hell Yes!  Killington... I'll be back...

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Will Always Place the Mission First… Miami Super

Amazing things happen to ordinary people every day.  Amazingly enough, I woke up and made it to work on time today.  A bit scraped, a good amount bruised, rather sore, but glowing in pride to have been called the “workhorse” of my amazing team, The Corn Fed Spartans, this past weekend.  (thanks Rick)  Like with most races, I sign up and then kind of wing it until I actually have to prepare to leave.  I bring new meaning to “Don’t sweat the small stuff” as I usually don’t know how I am even getting to a race until a few weeks (days) before it.  The Miami Super was no different.  So much happened over the course of just a few days, so I will try to keep this short and sweet.  The ride to Miami was pretty awesome.  I actually slept a bit!  First Corn Fed road trip I was able to sleep during!  We laughed a lot and truly just enjoyed being together for the whole 25ish? hours down to Miami!  Once we got checked in, we met up with some of the rest of our Corn Fed Family for a pre race celebratory dinner!  I hit a brick wall and had some shit to deal with around 11pm, so I headed up to the room and went to sleep in the most comfortable bed in the world.  Surely made from the feathered wings of angels.  My alarm clock went off… Race Day!  We all got ready and loaded up the truck as we were to head back home after the race.  Once we arrived at the race site, the adrenaline started pumping.  It was a gorgeous day in paradise.  Sunshine, palm trees, sand, warm temps, the animalistic smell of adrenaline and sweat, and music and cheering in the background.  Picked up our bibs and proceeded to marker up.  We headed over to the Race Site and met up with a few other Corn Fed Brothers and Sisters and then made our way to the Start.  Everything else was kind of blurred… music, announcements, silly little start line dance that I always do, cloud of smoke and GO!  They even announced our team!  I love that!  I felt good, I felt strong…took off running with the team and then realized I was missing one.  Where did my Belle go?  I immediately dropped back to find her.  I told her I would never leave her and grabbed her hand and we walked hand in hand while everyone else went to run their own race.  This girl, so full of fight and power, was determined to make it through to the finish.  Her story is not mine to tell, however knowing everything she had been through up to this point, makes her a true inspiration to me.  We laughed and pushed onward.  A few others fell back and walked with us.  We made our own little group and chatted and laughed under the sun.  We rounded a bend and were welcomed by the oceans embrace in our first water crossing.  I could see the rest of the team up ahead and smiled, knowing they were having a great time.  One of my Girls stopped and waited for us, with her man, and we went on together for a bit.  Then it was just us 4 again.  Friendships are strengthened during circumstance and I would never trade the amazing day I had.  Before I knew it, there was Ricky Booby waiting for us!  I knew he would eventually, he always does.  And he even said, “I went out there today to run my own race, but then it just didn’t feel right.”  I knew Belle was safe with the girls, so he and I would run and then wait and help at the next obstacle until the girls caught up.  I probably did over 60 burpees with fallen Spartans to push them through, while Rick cheered motivation to those crossing the monkey bars.  I knew better than to attempt those due to my shoulder and that was justified when I saw one guy drop and scream out in agony as he had dislocated his shoulder.  Then we ran.  The trail was twisty and turny, up and down and around and it was exhilarating!  Around mile 4 I got pissed because my energy was starting to waver and I realized I gave my Shot Blocks to a teammate, because we were all supposed to stick together.  Silly me, I know better.  Always be prepared!  I got over it and kept running.  Each obstacle, we helped, we waited, we ran.  No one failed at an obstacle with team Beast and Booby nearby!  It’s hard to remember every detail of this race, but I do recall the look of gratitude in the eyes of everyone we helped.  The one that stands out the most was at the cargo net climb.  A very fit woman had run past us a bit earlier, but there she stood at the bottom, looking up, terrified.  I shook her hand, told her my name and said, “There, now we are friends and I will help you up this!”  She started the climb and I stayed right by her side, to the top.  We got to the top and she gave my the biggest hug, which crumbled as soon as she saw how we had to get across and down.  The poor girl started shaking, crying and hyperventilating.  Literally could not catch her breath.  I promised her I wouldn’t let anything happen to her and I would keep anyone from bumping into her.  I got her to lay down on her back and just inch her way over to the other side, very slowly, while I bear crawled over the net behind her, making a wall so no one would bump her or hurt her.  Once she made it across, I got another huge hug… until she looked down.  Same thing, I told her, we will go down together.  Step by step until we hit the ground.  She then cried in pure joy that it was over and she did it!  I have never been hugged so tight!  I told her I was super proud of her and then my little team and I ran off.  The rest of that race I’m sure was easy for her after that.  We came up to some walls, lifted some heavy shit, lifted more heavy shit, and ran a bit more.  I, of course, carried the men’s sandbag, flipped the men’s tire, and finally lifted the men’s stone in the Hercules Hoist.  Well, with the help of Ricky Booby on the Hoist!  Scale down the side of a wall, pull up and dump buckets of water, and then scale the wall back up.  The final mile!  I could hear the music and practically smell the finish line.  Ran into a Weeple and The Main Man from MUDRUNFUN.  Finally met the Legend, Andi Hardy and was blessed enough to have her cheer me up the rope and across the traverse wall.  How lucky was I?  Honestly, if it weren’t for Rick though, again, I’m sure I wouldn’t have made that wall either.  Thanks so much Rick… I owe you!  Barbed wire roll, slippery wall and then Gladiator Pit!  Ricky Booby to the rescue again to grab my foot as it started to slide down the slippery wall right when I was at the top!  We did end up dropping Belle on her head… Sorry Honey!!!!  Then I put an arm around her to try to shield her from the Gladiators.  One hit her pretty hard, so then I wrapped practically my whole body around her as a shield.  ”Don’t you touch her!” I shouted.  Then we finished!!!! Darling Andrea put my medal around my neck and then we hit the final walk… t-shirt, banana, water, shower area.  Now I need a beer!  Looked for my team and then realized I really wanted to get my trifecta medal!  It was well-earned!  As I was leaving the tent, with both medals clanging off my chest, there was Ricky Booby again!  He knows me too well!  Next stop… beer!  I wouldn’t let myself be rushed, so I enjoyed the post race atmosphere for a bit, gave hugs, took pictures and then we had to head out.  The usual burger and fries with a beer or two and then we all piled in the truck to trek back home.  Great memories made, with the most amazing people I could ever know.  Strangers, turned teammates, turned family.  I love you guys!  Until we meet again…CORN FED!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Broken Spartan… Learning Patience and Fortitude By Force

There comes a time when finally you don’t have a choice but to slow down.  Most driven people ignore certain signs.  Aches, pains, time restraints… you get it.  Unfortunately, more often than not, the universe will interfere and said person will have to succumb.  And it sucks!  I injured my shoulder back in March doing snatches (giggle) during a workout.  I pushed through it, finished the workout, figured it was a pulled muscle.  Months go by and during those months, sometimes it would hurt, and I would have to modify, sometimes it wouldn’t hurt and I was fine with whatever.  Always trying to go faster, harder, heavier… which would lead to more pain, which would lead to ice and my beloved tiger balm, which would then make it ok.  Sort of.  Throw in an OCR or 20 and finally your body just says, “Screw you! I’m done!”  Back track a little.  I knew it was getting bad, I could always judge it based on how hard it was to change after a workout, and the fact that the bad arm would get longer.  Truth.  I had started getting adjusted by a Chiro and it was awesome!  I would feel amazing for a few days and slowly would start to lose range of motion as the week went on.  I always knew the adjustment was coming so I would push as hard as I could, always having to hold back a little mid-week, but then awesome again after my Friday adjustment.  Just know, that if you don’t stop, your body will make you.  This past Wednesday a few hours after the workout, it got so bad I could not even lift my arm.  Sleeping was next to impossible.  I frantically messaged my Chiro in the morning and pleaded to get in to see her.  I was quite literally lopsided.  Possibly only 20% mobility out of my right arm.  I had to use my left hand to move my right hand where I needed it.  The worst part?  It hurt.  I have a high tolerance for pain, and this freaking hurt.  Like tears in my eyes kind of pain.  My Chiro said she could fix me, but it was going to take awhile, and I was not allowed to workout for at least 1 week.  ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME????  Ok, so I guess she could tell by the look on my face that I was practically destroyed, so she reminded me that I want to get better and right now rest would be the best thing for me.  Honestly though, I could barely even pick up a pen, let alone try to lift anything heavy.  So, I’m sure you knew what happened next right?  I wanted a cookie.  Badly.  I did resist that time, but man did I want to eat a shit ton of cookies.  Being an emotional eater, and since I’m mostly always happy, it’s easy for me to keep my diet in check.  This was disastrous though!  I’ve tried being good, really I have.  A part of me is like, “Fuck it! Eat up Fatty.. Enjoy!”  Soooo… I’ve been going back and forth.  I enjoyed pasta and a few beers Saturday night.  I had orange juice and hash browns on Sunday.  I think I ate a year’s worth of cookies yesterday.  I feel bloated, I feel lazy, I feel like I’ve failed. I’m not angry or depressed though.  It’s a weird feeling actually.  The Holiday has kept me mostly busy which is good to keep my mind off it, but it hasn’t really afforded me the luxury of rest.  I’m sure this is what a bird with a broken wing feels like.  I’m going to kind of wallow in my misery for a bit.  Enjoy some “bad” food.  Complain.  Complain some more.  Look in the mirror at my dropped shoulder.  Mostly, I am going to look forward to being healed.  I have procrastinated long enough and my body has forced me to learn patience and fortitude.  I don’t have to like it, but I have to live it right now.  I have entirely too much to do in 2013 and I need to be at 100%.  So if I have to take a week (actually longer) off, then so be it.  Deep down inside, I know it’s necessary.  I also know it’s a minor obstacle that I need to interpret and overcome.  Which I will.  Anyone who knows me, knows I won’t quit, I won’t give up.  Learn from my ignorance though… don’t push yourself to this point.  Realize your pain is there for a reason and determine a path to heal it before you are forced to.  Moving forward though, I can only believe this will make me better than before.darkphoenix