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!

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Pride (aka Tooting One’s Own Horn)

A collective conversation happening with some of my health and fitness peeps has sparked my thoughts in the arena of pride. It’s interesting as we become healthy, lose weight, gain strength and do all the things that were once thought impossible, people around us start out supportive, and then either join in the movement with us, or make subtle jabs saying that we may have become”obsessed”, “fanatics”, or attack our parenting in that “we are so consumed with our own goals that we must be neglecting our families”.

I call BS.

Granted, as the saying goes, it IS in fact possible to workout without posting it on Facebook (I’ve been guilty of that and more!) but so what?! If it provides accountability and gets a person off the couch, better something positive than the alternative.

In our culture, probably more so for women, it seems that the polite thing to do is be modest. Don’t brag about yourself. Don’t put yourself out there. Don’t stand out. Who are you to think you are special? On and on it goes.

My question is this: Why not? Why not stand out, get healthy, run a marathon (or whatever your deal is) and then, yes – blow the heck out of that damn horn! Can we not just be happy for someone that is making positive changes in a healthy direction, even if we aren’t there yet ourselves? While being prideful in a way that is hurtful or puts someone else down is never good, healthy pride in our accomplishments is a good thing. Reverence and respect for our strengths is healthy. Don’t we praise our kids and cheer them on when they succeed?! Why can’t we do the same thing for ourselves?

 

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!

Wonder Full Wednesday: Perspiration to Inspiration

I am never more alive then when I’ve just completed a workout, I’m sweaty and what I like to call “all wrung out”. For some reason, I’m never more clear, more focused and more sure of myself as I am when I am doing something physically strenuous. More often than not, much of my writing inspiration comes from random thoughts while running.

I distinctly remember on more than one occasion standing in line with other recruits at bootcamp class waiting nervously in line for our turn at the agility course. Mind you, the instructor has just walked through and explained (yelled) what to do, but for some reason – I always doubted. I doubted I could do it, I doubted I could do it right, I doubted I could even remember what she wanted us to do.

Being followed
Agility (Photo credit: John Carleton)

Every time as I stepped up to my turn, on the balls of my feet anticipating my start, my mind would go blank and I would just GO. (Now this isn’t to say that I always did it all perfect, but the level of doubt I had was not proportionate to my skill.) That “blankness” that “just-stop-getting-in-your-own-way-and-do-it” thing happens all the time when I do something and show myself that yes, I CAN. I am much stronger than I think. I just have to stop thinking about it.

When we get to the end of ourselves physically, when we are completely spent, that’s the moment we tap into clarity. We go beyond our bodies and tap into the spiritual. Perhaps that’s why it makes me smile a bit when people ask either how I lost weight (if I have a magic pill or the latest fad diet) or how I have the motivation to keep working out. It makes me smile because if I’ve learned anything over the last two years, it is this: it is really not about the physical. Yes, it’s part of the process, yes, it’s exercise and eating clean and all of that, but the majority of it for me has been my personal growth; my growth in creativity, as a parent, as a friend, as a wife, and as a person.

Perspiration leads to inspiration. I love being inspired! That “not regretting a workout” platitude is cute, true, but definitely not the whole story. Smaller jeans are nice, but it’s not the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is taking what you’ve learned, passion and inspiration, and passing it on and sharing it with others. When its true passion, it can’t help but be shared.

For this passion, this being inspired while perspiring; I am grateful.

The Real Test

We all have days (weeks, months) that we just aren’t that motivated. Often I am motivated to work out and do what needs to be done ONLY because of the feeling after the fact. I know I’ll feel great once I work out. I know I’ll feel better if I just get off my butt and get the kitchen cleaned (laundry, dishes, oil changed, whatever is on the to do list). It’s the completion reward. As the saying goes:

Perhaps the real test isn’t doing a thing like losing weight or running a marathon while fully supported and surrounded by others doing the same thing.

Perhaps the real test is when you have to use what you know to once again climb out of the hole without support, or with a different support system. When I work out in my garage, no one knows if I’m phoning it in or not. No one ever will.

But I do.

Perhaps the only accountability any of us needs is ourselves. Being honest, kicking our own butt. Every day.

This to me is strength defined.