Whatever It Takes

Every Wednesday I get up while my family still sleeps and slip on my workout gear. Quietly, I head down to the kitchen to silently brew a cup of coffee, grab an apple and some cereal and gather my gear for spin class.

I love spin. Loud music, adrenaline, pushing beyond what we did last week. Then mixing it up and doing it again next week. The core group I teach are die-hards. You kind of have to be to get up that early, 27 degrees out, to come get sweaty on a bike that doesn’t move. I totally get that spin isn’t for everyone, but for those of us that love it – it becomes addicting when it all comes together. A good instructor you connect with, that challenges and pushes you to become better, a variety of great music that’s loud and motivating; it’s magic when it happens.

As a new instructor, I’m still getting my sea legs under me. With every class, the level of nerves has been decreasing while my excitement has steadily increased. I’m getting comfortable with the class and am finding my voice.

Today’s daily writing prompt is to “tell about a time when you were left on your own to fend for yourself, to show perseverance”. Today was that day.

When it all comes together it’s magic. When all the equipment fails, not so much. No microphone, no music, and only 3 people showed up to class.

(cue doom music here)

Well, the diehards stayed and so did I. I propped my iPhone up on the bike, cranked it as loud as it would go, and the 4 of us got our workout done. The spinning of the flywheel on our bikes drowned out the music. We muscled through and did it anyway.

Hopefully next week the equipment will be fixed and we’ll go back to making spinning magic!

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Dash Recap: A Day in the Life of a Warrior

Ahh, Warrior Dash day! I love the energy of race day! It’s just fun getting out there with other folks to play!

On the way down to the “battleground”, I stopped at a Starbucks to get some coffee and one of those spinach feta egg white wraps. (I love them!) I then had to stop at REI to check out their triathlon suits, as I will be needing one in a few weeks! I had a nice conversation with the lady helping me and then I was on my way. I decided that since I live nowhere near a Nordstrom, I should probably stop to check things out before the race. After perusing the Anniversary Sale, I picked up a couple of shirts and headed to the counter.

I have never received bad service at Nordstrom. But today was just a bit off. The person ringing me up wouldn’t look directly at me, was a bit curt, and seemed to want to be done with the transaction. “It was pretty busy with the sale,” I thought as I made my way to the car. Getting in, I looked in the rear view mirror and was suddenly horrified. I had the biggest spinach leaf in my tooth!

Similar to this:

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I have come to the conclusion that despite my best efforts – I will never be cool. Nordstrom is great, I love their clothing, but I definitely fit in better with mud and sweat-soaked peeps conquering obstacles and pushing past comfort zones.

Whatever. Cool is overrated. Down to the dash!

The camaraderie at these events is palpable. It really is so much fun! When you arrive, you see the warriors all clean waiting to run, and then the muddy ones that have already completed their race. You can tell they’ve done it by their swagger. A “Yeah, I did the Dash” strut. (Think John Travolta a la Saturday Night Fever, but with mud and sweat instead of chest hair and bell bottoms.)

They changed up the obstacles a bit this year, but still included lots of mud, barbed wire, and fire jumping. There is one obstacle I call the “‘Get over that wall Seagar!’ wall”. (As in Louis Gossett, Jr. yelling at a flight school candidate to get over the rope wall. Yes, most of my military references are from Hollywood.) I take a running jump, grab the rope and walk the wall. In my head Louis is yelling at me to get over that wall. Have I mentioned I’m not the biggest fan of heights? Well, I got to the top and was okay, but there were people next to me so I sat straddling the top waiting for my opportunity swing my leg over to rope climb back down the other side, you know, without giving anyone a swift kick to the head. I must’ve looked panicky because two guys came up the wall, one in front of me, one behind, and exuberantly patted me on the back and said, “C’mon girl, we got you! Swing that leg over!” Then we all climbed down simultaneously – high fives at the bottom and off we went! That’s just how it is at the Dash – everyone helps everyone and we’re all there to have a good time. And I LOVE it!

And then I saw others approach obstacles and not even try, but just decide to walk around. “Nah, forget that. I’m walking around.” Not trying. I guess you could say they “did the dash”, but do you really do something when you half-ass it? I know my nature and I knew right then I would do EVERY obstacle. I am not a quitter.

Try. Get dirty. Get messy. Get into life!

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At the cargo climb obstacle (above), I saw a woman who looked to be between 60 and 70 years old shakily sitting on the top, unable to make herself climb down the other side. Her fellow warriors were at the bottom hollering up encouragement and trying to guide her down. “One step down!” “You can do this!”. Ever so slowly she moved her quaking legs down each rope to the ground. Then immediately she covered her face with her mud-caked hands. She was crying. Probably from relief, but hollered an over-joyed, “I did it!” through her tears.

“I did it!”

At the top, we all clapped and wiped away the sweat that was suddenly leaking out of all of our eyes. Conquering fear is universal. Watching someone be brave in their life is stunning to behold.

Then there were monkey bars. Monkey bars about 10 feet over a giant mud pond. (This, other than the electrocution, is what I’m the most nervous about for the Tough Mudder race in October.) Monkey bars represent upper body strength – which is not my strength. I watched as others grab the first few bars, get into the middle, lose their grip and then plunge into that cold muddy water. (Even a few really buff dudes!)

Then it was my turn.

I climbed up to the first bar and mentally started to figure out how I was going to plug my nose when I hit the water. I started to remember the people who didn’t even try, but walked around the obstacles. I gripped my first bar, and swung out to grab my second, then the next, and the next. I kept looking up at the bars and decided that I shouldn’t look down, but instead kept chanting, “I will NOT fall into the water!” “I WILL NOT fall into that water!” I made it to the other side and practically screamed, “I DID NOT FALL INTO THE WATER!” There wasn’t anyone around to celebrate with, so I high-fived myself and ran on to jump over the fire. (More of that “never being cool” thing.)

Whatever. I did the dang thing and didn’t fall into the water! That’s gonna carry me for weeks!

Tough Mudder – I’m getting ready for you!

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Getting into life. Conquering fear. Being brave when life’s obstacles seem too challenging.

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I WILL own one of these!

Bring it!

To The Beginner

Winding road

It sucks starting something new.

Having hope is scary. I know, you’ve had hope before and then it didn’t work. You see those skinny chicks and wonder how it would be to live like that.

You think, “I’d be happy in my life, if only I looked like that.”

Staying the same just isn’t an option. You’ve stopped looking in mirrors, you’ve learned to shut down the voice that questions “how did it get this far?” You don’t realize it now, but you WILL feel so much better. You may not even realize just how bad you feel now.  Being numb to life will do that to you.

It will hurt. You will ache and the pain will be damn near unbearable. But ever so slowly, you’ll start to see some progress – and it will be so motivating. You’ll see that you can do more, push more, and are so much stronger than you think. You’ll be astonished at your mental capacity to keep moving when your body wants to give up.

Keep at it.

Don’t give up.

One push up, one half mile, one bike ride, one step at a time.  You’ll start to walk or jog outside – terrified that someone will drive by and laugh. (They won’t – they’ll be thinking they should be out doing something, too.) You’ll start to raise your gaze to passersby.  Maybe, just maybe, this fitness thing will work.  And it won’t be a fad, a phase, or just that thing you did one time. It will be a way of life – YOUR way of life.

Small victories that will lead to big wins.

You’ll be “that” person in your neighborhood that is always seen walking, running, or moving.  Someone will call you an “athlete”, and you’ll look behind you to see who they’re talking about, suddenly choking back a sob as the realization hits that it is you they are discussing.

You’ll get to the point where you’ll relish the labels “dedicated”, “consistent”, and “persevering”.

It’s never easy getting there from here.

But I promise you it will be worth it.

You are so worth it.

Dear Military Mom Facing Your First Deployment With Kids

Dear Military Mom on your first deployment:

Oh mama, there really isn’t anything I can tell you to prepare for this adventure. It is hard. Simple as that.

There are days (hours, minutes) that are going to feel like forever. Dragging so slow you swear it’s been an hour and it’s only been 4 minutes. Groundhog days where you lose yourself in the day-to-day-ness of dishes, diapers, and duty.

You’ll miss your spouse so much you’ll feel it physically. You’ll begrudge any happy couple you see, only because it reminds you of what is missing right now.

There will be days that nothing goes right and you’ll wonder if it’s even worth it. Then you’ll get that call, hear their voice, and get the recharge you need to get through another few days or weeks until you get to hear that voice again.

Believe it or not, there may even be times when you don’t want them to call. It’s normal to feel that way. They are so starved for details of our days, yet can tell us very little, it’s a very one-sided conversation. After a really challenging day, the idea of relaying and reliving it again can be just too exhausting.

There will be the days that you are okay, but the kids are hot messes asking for daddy. Those are the days that rip your guts out. But you’ll get through those, too. Those are the moments that will toughen you up so you can set your pain aside to be the soft spot for your kids to land. You’ll be able to hold it together so they can fall apart.

There will be days when your non-military friends will remark on how fast the deployment is going and you’ll muster up the restraint to keep from punching them.

Then you’ll realize you’re halfway through. Maybe it isn’t so bad. As the calendar ticks down the days, the ache begins to lessen.

There will be really good days that will have only just a tinge of sadness because you couldn’t share it with your spouse.

There will be kick-butt days when you fix that bike, fix the car, or do whatever it is that you thought you couldn’t do. And you will feel that pride.

Those pride moments are powerful. As much as the recharging phone calls, these are the ones that carry you through when you want to just give up.

You’ll wipe the tears, you’ll chat with a dear friend, you’ll laugh, you’ll go to dinner, you’ll pull up your bootstraps, and you’ll keep moving. You’ll put one foot in front of the other. You’ll take one day at a time, one moment, one glass of spilled milk, one diaper change at a time. You’ll reach out if you need help. You’ll link arms with your fellow spouses and friends. You’ll make plans. You’ll workout. You’ll make goals. Even small ones like “keep the kids alive today”, and celebrate your achievements.

You may not realize it now, but the you that starts this deployment will not be the same person finishing it.

You will be better.

Trust me.

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Rosie-the-Riveter (Photo credit: SBT4NOW)

Reason #472 Why I Am Over this Deployment.

The countdowns have begun in my head:

“Only 1 more gallon of milk until he gets home.”

“Last 2 episodes of Deadliest Catch until we can watch them together.”

“The next grocery run, I’ll be stocking the fridge with his favorites.”

“The next time I mop the floor, will be the last time I mop it before he gets back!”

And on it goes. Sigh. The finish line is right there….

Today started rainy (it’s been rainy for the past couple of days and the kids are going absolutely CRAZY with cabin fever.) My kids need fresh air and exercise in large doses daily! They are also greatly anticipating Eric’s return with the countdown refreshed every morning. Everyday becomes a day to distract.

Just keep swimming.

With the rain, we headed to our favorite indoor playground. Then by the time that was over, we headed over to my sister’s place to visit and catch up. By the time we got home, the kids were antsy, ready to be out of the car and the weather had cleared. So outside we went. On a bike ride.

Based on this day, I should always just carry bike tools with me.

Somehow the hand brake on Jake’s bike got jacked up and the back wheel completely locked. It’s moments like these that I am so thankful for fitness and my body’s strength. It’s not always about hitting the gym and going faster on a dumb treadmill. It’s not about lifting a barbel. Working out just for the sake of working out can be awesome, but it’s the resulting strength I have grown to depend upon. It’s the times when I need that strength for doing stuff, everyday stuff. LIke today when I had to walk my bike and simultaneously CARRY my son’s bike, which is NOT light.

I confess, as more than one car slowed down to look at me – I smiled every time. That’s right. This sucks. But I got it.

I’m tired. The kids are tired. But we are slogging through, marking another red X on the calendar.

It sucks. But we got it.

Almost there.

To the….

To the friends who inspired and paved the way…

To the trainer who believed in me and my abilities before I could believe in myself…

To the friends who didn’t laugh when I told them what I wanted to do…

To the friends who walked and ran beside me as we cheered each other on…

To those that took the time to say a few kind words, drop a line, or call to say, “You’ve inspired me.”

To the friends that taught me how to be a friend and what true friendship looks like…

To the marathon: being able to say, “yeah, I ran a marathon, I can handle this”…..

To the fear, and the courage to proceed anyway….

To shows like The Biggest Loser for motivation and inspiration…

To the deployment that frustrated, stalled, and detoured me…

To the technology to keep in touch with accountability partners, friends and my husband…

To this body that continually surprises me with its capacity for strength..

To Facebook peeps who tolerate my exercise vomit…and food pics…

To the constantly improving weather as we head into spring…

Thank you.

Thank you.

To the gremlin voice who still rears its ugly head: thank you for the criticism that propels me forward…just to prove you wrong. I am doing the damn thing and my goals WILL be achieved.

Watch me!

St. Patrick’s Day Fun!

The gym at NAS Whidbey Island periodically has fun runs, a 1.5 mile, a 5k and a 10k. I ran one of the 10ks last year and thought that perhaps Jake would like to run the short race, while we push Hannah in the stroller.  I would be over the moon if at least one of the kiddos falls in love with running. No biggie if not, but I do hope they each find something active that they can be passionate about. (Of course secretly, I hope it is running!)

After blowing some St. Patty’s day bubbles in our festive green, we head to our race!

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“C’mon, cmon! Let’s go!”

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Before we left, Jake decided that he didn’t want to run, but would rather ride in the stroller. Hannah then decided she would like to run the race with mommy.  Okay – off we go!

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Baby girl all signed up and ready to run!

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We get about 10 yards past the start line, and Hannah and Jake switch. Hannah is tired, and Jake wants to race, now that he sees all the other runners. Okay – let’s chinese fire drill it baby!

After just a bit, Jake starts whining and says he doesn’t want to do it anymore. (Inside, I want to scream, knowing this would probably happen.) He’s 4 years old. It probably is a lot to ask of him, but thought I’d give it a try. Like the saying goes, “Total failure is better than never trying”.

After counting to 10 and taking a breath, I told him that when he decided he wanted to run the race, he needed to finish it. “We don’t quit. We can walk when you need to catch your breath and go at your pace, but we finish what we start.” What a metaphor for life, huh?! Then I realized how this principle has played out over and over in not only my fitness journey, but in parenting as well. I used to be a quitter. I quit when things got too difficult, or just didn’t try if I wasn’t sure I would succeed. I want better for these little ones. I’m glad they won’t know the old me.

I walked on slowly, letting him take a moment to realize that we weren’t going to quit, make up his mind and catch up. And he did. We walked at first, then he saw other runners and said, “I’m ready to run, now mom! Let’s go fast!”

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And fast we went!! It will definitely go down as one of my favorite races! Watching my little guy cross that finish line was so great and seeing his huge grin at the end as other racers were high-fiving him was priceless! So proud of him!

Yeah. Hannah fell asleep! Poor thing! It was a long 1.5 mile!

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Later we hit the St. Patrick’s Day parade in town – bundled up of course, because it was rainy and cold. (What else would the weather be like in Washington?!)

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When I asked them what their favorite part of the parade was (thinking the pirate ship, the bagpipes, or the cool old cars) they both screamed “THE CANDY!”

Duh. Should’ve known!

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Happy St. Patty’s Day weekend!