challenges, fitness and nutrition

Puddin’ Pedal

Sounds cute and innocent enough…a 20-mile “fun ride” through central Georgia. Part of the State Banana Pudding Festival. Pudding at all the rest stops! A pudding tasting at the festival! Banana carving! What’s not to love?

There was a 20 mile and a 40 mile option. People asked me what I was doing…funny. Even 20 miles would be about 7 miles longer than I had ever biked. There were maybe 20 of us, total. 5 doing 40 miles, 15 doing 20. Some chit chat at the start line…quite a few of us were new to this event, but nearly all had much nicer gear and bikes than I did. Several wore fancy kits advertising their distance races. Most were also my age or older. Friendly. After all, we weren’t competing.

Straight out of the gate there was a huge downhill. I thought to myself, we are going to pay for this with some big ups.

How right I was! What followed was mile after mile of mostly huge hills. Every turn had me holding my breath and often shaking my head in disbelief. Another ?!^&@# hill!!!

The 40 milers and some of the more experienced cyclists were long gone as I steady pedaled up the first few hills. A couple of older women who had come together took a number of breaks on the side of the rural roads so I kept in touch with them. Finally at one point I turned around to see several people about 50 yards behind me along with the police safety vehicle that signifies the back of the pack. I’m doing ok, I thought. Just keep moving.

Up and down. Up and down. At one point I just get off the bike and walk it up the last part of the hill. My back and my saddle soreness told me it was fine to take a little break. At one point people pass me and then I hear the sound of the car over my shoulder. It would be over my shoulder for the remainder of the miles. Kind of taunting me. Once in a while tempting me. Others had given up, hoisted their bikes and climbed in. Put themselves out of the slow rolling pain of endless hills. Should I?

I’ll spare you the pain of all the inner doubt and dialogue. I knew I was too stubborn to give up. Yes, every time I would get off the bike to walk some horrible uphill they would pull up next to me to see if I was ok. Always the answer: “yes” with a smile and a thank you. Even with the headwinds of a storm blowing in. Even after an hour and a half with no mile markers and not a bowl of pudding in sight, I kept going.

We did finally get to the pudding stop. There was just one. The rest of the 20 mile group was there, sitting and snacking on pudding and sandwiches and nilla wafers and orange slices. We all pulled out together a few minutes later. I learned we just had about 7 miles to go, with a few more horrible uphills between me and the finish line.

It took forever, it seemed. Me and the sweep truck just puttering along. One hill had me so mad I started hyperventilating. But I had to calm down… “You didn’t come this far to just come this far,” I told myself. “Finish it. Finish it. Finish it.” Counting my pedals from 1-100 just to focus on getting. up, the, hill.

And at long last, I did finish. The finish line was nothing special. In fact, people kept saying “just keep going,” then eventually I was riding into the festival crowd and I turned around. The follower vehicles were gone. No finish line, no bowl of pudding, no cheers or way to gos. I just got off my bike and sat on the ground for a minute. Shaking my head. Shaking all over, really. What just happened? I finished.

This may have been the hardest physical thing I had ever done. I had to work harder than I wanted for longer than I wanted because there was someone just over my shoulder, waiting for me to quit. No stops for photos or scenery. Just a fight through pretty much every single mile.

I am stubborn, that is for sure. I can endure pain and discomfort for as long as I need to. I can keep going. I can sustain. I don’t have to satisfy anyone but myself.

A bucket list activity turned into a one-and-done. A few bites of pudding and many sore muscles and memories. Sometimes the things you look forward to contain tests and challenges you don’t anticipate or imagine. But pushing through them is its own gift. It leaves you with a sense of achievement. And a plan to improve.

fitness and nutrition, health

Year 7

Was year 7 a lucky year? No. It was however the 7th consecutive year for me to participate in the CrossFit Open. I’m still fittish. I’m still fabulous. I’m still as competitive as I was when I was just 12 years old.

Year 7 was a defining year. A year I didn’t let fear hold me back. A year to redefine myself within my personal scope of CrossFit today. This year I am visiting the gym 3-4 days a week as compared to a solid 6 days a week a few years ago. I’m a little thicker. I’m a little less flexible. I’m a little more cautious vs. reckless.

I do other things now, whether I’m playing tennis a few days a week or just squeezing in a workout in my shred shed to stay active. With that being said I didn’t miss the chance to compete in the CrossFit Open. Why would I? I have a seven year streak going. I may even have a goal to see how many years I can do it.

I participated scaled which was okay for me as I wasn’t working on the advanced gymnastics movements all year, but I could garner the strength to participate scaled. I scaled like a boss and owned each workout the best I could. I had fun. I did better than expected in most cases. All in all I am happy to be continuing to compete each year.

The workouts are always different. The people around you may change but the competitive edge really lies within you. I’ve been an athlete all my life. I have competed at high levels across many sports over the years. The common denominator is competition for me. I like to compete. I like to compete in many areas of life and sports allows me to hone my skills and discipline myself. 

As you can see below I test my brain each morning with Wordle. I compete with friends near and far. A digital challenge each morning. A competition bright and early in the day to spark the competitive edge we all have. Some days it’s easy. Some days it’s frustrating. Some days I lose. Today I was a little lucky. Some friends start with the same word. I choose a new word daily. I guess I like change and that simple word change is something I control each morning. Instead of being cautious I’m risking change thus competing with myself.

I compete with myself on the daily however having national leaderboards is a great way to see how you stack up to others around the world. I’m not the elite athlete by any means and I don’t care to be. I care to be me, an athlete. A masters athlete. A scaled athlete. A long-term competitor. I’m an endurance athlete. I’m enduring the test of time. How long can I stay fit enough to compete at whatever level my body and mind wants to. I adapt. I adjust. I realign my expectations now and again.

Some days I may be in the masters age class for CrossFit while other days I’m in the muck of it all with an 18 year old. On the tennis courts I may play in the senior league but then the next day play in 18 and older league. Each scenario may be different with players and abilities but it’s still competitive. Your mind still needs to react to the environment. One must persevere against whatever the odds are. Being an athlete also has highs and lows. Winning days and losing days. The point is I still compete and give my all in whatever level competition I am in and whether or not I win a prize. 

I don’t register for the local 5k to be #1 in my age group. I do it to say I competed. I do it to be amongst other like-minded people who chose fitness. Environment matters. Getting out with others can be key for many who many suffer in their own silent ways. Remember that you don’t have to be #1 to be an athlete. You need to train to be an athlete. Training is a repetitive action.

Today at my gym I worked out along side a young guy in a wheelchair. He adapts every movement for him even though we do the same class. Next to me is a teenager. She is getting her conditioning in for her high school off season. Different levels, same focus on fitness. Making time to work at our levels.

My body gets stiffer these days. My body needs extra time stretching. Once I make my adjustments I can still work just as hard as others. I’m just adjusting to the newer version of me which is actually the older version of me. Tweaking what needs adjusting along the way.

When I look back at these seven years in the Open, I can see how far I have come. I can see where I could go. I can see how many people quit while I stayed on the path. I can see how much my fit life has impacted others around me. My mental strength has grown from all the moments I spent on the gym floor in near tears for making another rep. My emotional strength has skyrocketed as it goes hand and hand with my mental prowess. Physically I have hit ups and downs but I am super strong in comparison to many my age and for that I am hopeful for the future. The future of me. How long I endure. How I forge ahead.

If you have never competed on a national level, try it. Maybe your sport is chess. Maybe it’s pickle ball. Whatever the sport see how you fare. Competition is a strength in all parts of life. We all compete for tomorrow when it’s never guaranteed. Staying competitive in life or competing helps one prepare for those days that you need the physical, mental and emotional strength to see tomorrow.

I am an athlete.

An athlete in mind, body and spirit.

I have trained for years.

I did the work.

I continue to work each day. This is what an athlete does. They train continuously. It’s my opinion that athletes make great leaders. They understand sacrifice. They know how to work hard. They appreciate mental toughness. They can balance when needed in life. They are built to endure.

The photo above showing me upside down is fascinating to those who don’t workout. It takes a lot to go upside down. Confidence. Strength. Determination. Power more than finesse. Practice. Failures. Courage. So much behind the scenes of this photo, yet I am proud to say that at 51 years old I can go upside down. Maybe that’s another goal to see how many more years I can go upside down.

What kind of athlete are you?

perspective

Out With the Old

Out you go! In with the new. Cleansing is going on around me. Recycle, repurpose, redirect, reconfigure, remove, renew, etc.

Sometimes you need to reshuffle life. A fresh perspective. Some old items are sort of new these days. Maybe they were rehomed or repurposed. Meaning they will live another day despite their age. Maybe they just needed a new environment. Maybe some new paint. Maybe some buffing or waxing. Maybe even a recycling project of sorts. Taking older components to reuse in a different way making them new but still old. Recycling is good for the environment and has many benefits.

Speaking of old, I got rid of an old car. Not a super old car but one that still had many miles left to go. It was pretty. It was fun. It took many adventures. Only it was time for something new. Out it goes!

A new purpose. A different look. A unchartered kind of road ahead for its owner and companions. Nightfall has come. A new journey begins. Off we go.

Have you had to let go of something in the past to make room for the future? Many have to experience this in life. Sometimes with the arrival of a new baby something has to go. Maybe when aging something must go. Maybe if downsizing is needed something must go.

Cleansing is a process. Maybe you can just start cleansing your social media followers list as a practice activity. See who you miss and who you don’t. Out with old. Off we go. Go, go, go as Dr. Seuss would say.