Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Morning Muscle Meltdown

If you’re a Facebook friend you’ve been blasted by status updates and pictures of me and my team, Will Beer for Run, throughout this past weekend.  If you haven’t already unfriended me or unsubscribed to my updates, then you’re a true friend, or have mastered the art of oblivion.  Saturday, April 28, Will Beer for Run gathered in a huddle just past the participant check-in at the Pocono Manor Tough Mudder.  The huddle was more of an effort to commiserate over windy cold as opposed to looking united as a team.  I felt mildly responsible for the situation; after all, I have a knack for being pushy, borderline forceful.  I used this skill to get people to register for ‘possibly the world’s toughest event’.  We did, however, befriend a gorgeous woman named Brandy.  She was wrapped in the shiniest silver with a black skull and crossbones stamped across her chest.  The group passed her around and took a long swig.  Brandy became the internal warmth that pushed us to the starting line.  Of course, we had to climb a wall BEFORE getting to the line.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

We were set to launch at 8:20 am, but needed to participate in some pre-game festivities.  The MC literally warmed up the group by getting us pumped.  He spoke of being united, kicking some ass and paying homage to our service men and women.  The pep talk was peppered with lots of HOO-RAH’s, followed by reciting the Tough Mudder Pledge.  The energy from my team and the ground hit me hard.  Feelings bubbled in my gut (no it wasn’t Brandy) and triggered an internal fire that pulsated through my entire body.  I was ready; we were ready.  Let’s do this.

I’ll spare you the details of barbed wire, ice tanks, electrocution, jumping off fifteen foot planks and climbing more walls.  I continued to feed off the energy of the crowd, the unity within my team and the mental grit needed to get through the course.  We, together, pressed through at least twenty obstacles over at least twelve miles to come out victorious.  This energy heightened my hyperactivity by bringing out the best of my screams, the flowery obscenities and the ‘DAMN, RIGHT I CAN DO THIS’ attitude. 

Wrapped in foil capes and wearing our orange halos, we shivered to catch the cheese wagon back to the Pocono Raceway, where our dry clothes anxiously waited.  Operation Get Dry was in full effect as soon as the van doors opened.  We peeled the cold, wet, muddy clothes from our beaten bodies and threw on warm clothes.  Of course, we loitered in the parking lot to drink a beer before piling into the warm van, headed for Allentown.  After hot showers, the BBQ was going and an outdoor fire was lit.  The calorie consumption wasn’t anything to bat an eyelash at.  Some of us were refueling, like Phelps, after a grueling day, others were also carbing up for a half marathon the following morning.   We exhausted ourselves rehashing the day’s events – retelling story after story for anyone who would listen.  Eventually, people faded one by one, headed for their warm bed.  After the last guests left, Marcus and I cleaned up and turned in.  I had another big morning. 

On Sunday, I met Gooch (his idea) and his wife Steph in a parking lot close to the half marathon start.  I stepped out of the car proudly displaying my Tough Mudder shirt with orange headband. I put on my Vibrams and adjusted my compression sleeves just below my severely bruised knees.  Gooch, also wearing his Mudder shirt and sporting orange hair, and I chuckled at our craziness as we walked to the start.  The day, already warmer than yesterday, held promise as the sun warmed our bodies.   Again, I’ll spare you the details of the race, but I’d like to get a few points across.

I have done some crazy things, but NEVER have I done these things without the unbelievable support of my husband, friends and family.  Please don’t mistake my gloating as conceit.  I love my life.  I want people to love their lives, too.  There’s so much out there to enjoy.  I want people to join me to see what awesome things we can do together.  I am a bully.  I want awesome, but I can’t do it alone.  I can’t climb walls myself – literally and figuratively.  Come with me.  Let’s find awesome together.  You don’t need to do a race with me to be supportive or feel the awesome.  Just come along for the ride.  I promise you won’t want to go back.  But, beware, I do have a potty mouth.  

As a Tough Mudder I pledge that:

  • I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge
  • I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time
  • I do not whine, kids whine
  • I help my fellow Mudders complete the course
  • I overcome all fears

 mudder team

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Climbing the Summit

Life consists of multiple lines eventually intersecting at one or multiple points forming a complete journey.  These lines support all of humanity, whether or not there is a direct relationship.  We all contribute.  One of my lines, started a few months back, will become part of the bigger picture at the end of the month.  I regained the confidence necessary to carry me to the end, both literally and figuratively.  Today’s excursion added the finishing touches to a long road riddled with bumps and detours.  I walked out with my head held high with minimal injury. 
While waiting for my running partner I turned to the sun and did a few modified salutations to warm my body, set the tone and pay some respects to the Mother.  We took the direction less traveled and quickly descended the rocky trail with cold feet.  The sun pushed any clouds aside and lit up our pale skin.  Occasionally, stopping to catch our breath and wipe our brow we silently looked around, soaking in the beauty of this warm April day.  We had potential and used it to our advantage; our sore feet tackled the highs and lows the trail offers to it’s unsuspecting patrons. 
As we approached the fifth (or so) mile I knew the Summit wasn’t too far in the distance.  It seemed like we were at the lowest point as the climb began.  We pushed out of the tree lined trail and proceeded to hammer up the path littered with large rocks.  Without the protection of the cooling trees, the sun set my skin on fire motivating me to move faster.  I looked up to see the crest of the trail yield to a circular grassy patch overlooking the entire Valley.  Strangely enough (yet so perfect), a bench is parked in the center of the circle.  We jogged over to the bench – it was if we couldn’t sit fast enough – and admired the view in silence. 
At that moment I accepted so much of me.  Getting there was an uphill battle, but I made it.  The reward of admiring the world from a distance, in silence, made the journey worth it.  The emotional and physical pain of the trail broke me down, but only made me stronger.  This became my driving force to conquer the Summit.  I stood up and really could see the forest for the trees.  Silence was interrupted with a slap of reality.  Guess I can’t run from everything.  Like a merry-go-round moving too fast I felt nauseous, but knew I had to fight to the finish.  With three (ish) miles left we pulled ourselves together for the last stretch.  No easy task, by any means, but we muscled through the remaining lows and highs to park ourselves under a tree in the cool grasses.