fitness and nutrition, friendship

Virtual Fun

Well this weekend I should have been in Nashville, TN running the Wonder Woman 10k race with some of my gal pals.

Unfortunately, pandemic distancing rules made that trip a no go. Instead I got my shirt, medal, wrist bands and instructions by mail. For the record I loved the shirt but had to give it away because it was meant for a tiny 12 year old who hadn’t developed their bust yet or maybe the manufacturer assumed thick girls don’t run?!?!

The task was to complete a virtual 10k. Seems simple enough as I have done many but then you have to decide where to run, when to run and and and. We opted for the same date, Sunday, May 3rd. Then we opted for an area that we knew was a set distance to and from. The plan was in motion. The gal pals were on target.

Additional friends heard what we were doing locally and jumped in on the fun. Oh but the day came and I forgot many things. Planning my food intake before. Going to bed early. Gel packs for the race. Best shorts to avoid chaffing. And best of all no water on the trail and I didn’t pack any. Guess I was too excited for the coffee reward after.

Another pandemic glitch was no bathrooms to potty at. Even though Starbucks serves coffee it’s only drive through so no potty breaks along the way was tough. My stretching before was lacking as well but I made the attempt. The little details matter and I guess that’s why you pay a race fee for all the extras.

Another missed sidebar was the noise. No crowds cheering to push you. No people in front of you to follow. No funny signs to read. Completing a virtual 10k was harder than I expected. I didn’t get my best time but I wasn’t planning for a best time. I was just aiming to complete what I had set out to accomplish. 6.2 miles in heat, no water, no bathroom and old playlist playing in my ears. Just me and the pavement. A lot of boring and a lot of reasons to give up.

I finished the task. I might have even dodged a few golf carts on this trek which is not something I would not normally see in a race. My first virtual race is full of memories and mental milestones. I will cherish the time and reflect on what I accomplished while many pass judgment on my actions of exercising outdoors.

I also completed the event with about 8 people I knew who jumped in on the adventure. We kept our distance which was easy since we are all varied paces. We celebrated seeing each other in person. We even got bullied at the end by an elderly man wondering where our masks were. Oh the irony as this senior was supposed to be quarantined by his age alone. I guess this confirms my note above about people passing judgement. It happens every day. Nobody is immune to judgment. My first virtual run is one and done. Proud of myself and my Sunday Funday runners.

The next day is here and I am not sore which is good. I’m on to my next adventure which is slated for a triathlon in July thanks to my annual summer 10k race being postponed until November. Still not sure if the triathlon will take place but I’m staying optimistic and I’m training as if it’s on the calendar.

Look out world. I’m running, biking or swimming your way.

fitness and nutrition, friendship

The Friendship Relays

Six women.  Seven o’clock. Early one Sunday morning.

Six different paces. Six different goals.

One had to be done in 50 minutes.  One wanted to run two miles.  One wanted to run six miles.  Others somewhere in between.

Most, but not all, preparing for a half marathon this fall. Several working on upping their speed.  Some working just to get (back) into running.

An out-and-back course. One endless hill – gentle slope on the way out, daunting mountain on the way back.

How do we do this, as a group?

Meeting early, we parked.  Everyone adjusted their respective technologies…mileage counters, music.  The fast group took off, three in number.  The wide, empty road with generous sidewalks meant we could see them for a long, long time as they took off at an ambitious clip.

One of us, at a moderate pace, moved right along brightly.

I was in the slow, steady tortoise pair with a friend.  We chatted the whole time.  Neither was overly winded.  And before we knew it, a mile had gone by – and then she said, “that’s the first time I’ve ever run a full mile without stopping.”

WHAT A VICTORY!  And I had no idea that was happening!  Such a great moment, and we could still keep going.

She was the two-miler this day, so we turned around and paced ourselves back up the hill.  Once she was back to the car, I took off down again, only to see the three hares flying up the hill together.  The 50-minute limit gal was in that group, and they made the most of it. Screams of KEEP GOING WE’RE ALMOST THERE as they were so close to running to the top! Inspiring!

I plodded down the hill, singing along to the Beastie Boys, Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande, knowing we had a friend still out on the course.  Over a mile passed until I saw her.  She was working her way back up.  I pulled out my headphones to check in – so hot, it’s THICK out here, I said – then kept moving along toward my goal distance.

Turned back for home, finally. And all I could see was UP.  That hill looked SOOOO long.  I’d be going at it for a mile and a half (a while and a half!)  Endless. And even though I’ve been doing really well most days with just continuing to run, I stopped.

To walk.

And I was so mad at myself.  Just knowing the hill was so long, it was enough to make me walk.  Just for maybe 45 seconds.  Then back into running. Still, though. A mental setback.

One lonely moment.  Grudging, trudging entered my mind.

Then, I turned a corner only to see three figures in the distance, two in dark and one in bright, walking down the hill toward me.

It was the other three women still on the route.  Coming back for me.

In that moment, gears shifted.  Seeing them, I could have run for days.  My stride picked up.  I sang a little louder.  Moved a little faster.

We met and they turned and we finished together, telling stories and giggling.

It IS possible for everyone to meet their goals.  Even if the goals (and the gals) are wildly different.  Even if they seem incompatible.

It IS ok to “take the long way” or to double back “relay style” as part of your path, especially if it means more time with someone you enjoy.  Bonus points if you help them meet their goals, too.

It IS awesome to push yourself to keep up with those moving at a faster clip. Even those who seem the strongest, most invincible among us, have weak points of doubt or moments when they might feel like slowing down.  You could be the voice of encouragement at that moment!  Yes, YOU!

Even if you are done with your work, have met your goal, and completed your task, going back out to help the people still on the trail when you can is a beautiful show of support.  Being last can be challenging, even lonely, even if everyone’s goals are different at the start.  And then next time, when you have to begin again, or turn for home and all you can see is a great big pile of UP, that long hill climb might be a little less daunting, knowing you won’t be forgotten.

Six women. Six paces.  So many fluid groupings, lessons. Challenges faced, goals achieved.  All on one sunny Sunday morning.

 

 

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Jail Break Time

So something happened!

And I’m sure you think I went to jail but guess again! I entered a team in the 2019 Jail Break Challenge in my community.

I saw it advertised online. A 5k with obstacles. A little twist on the other extreme 5k’s I’ve done, so I said I’m going give it a go. Tasha is in. Courtney is in. Milagros is in. Team of 4 badass chicks it is. I just love my friends and how they dive right in with my crazy adventures.

Then a few more expressed interest. Team two formed. Lexi, Sarah, Chris and my oldest Nick filled out team 2. A coed team it is.

Time passes. A group chat starts. The weather calls for a monsoon. People get the jitters. But in the end everyone shows up bright and early, even the one who stayed out partying until the wee hours the night before.

There were some unhappy campers as the race started. I mean not mad, just realized that it was an extreme event versus a casual jog and the weather and the environment had emotions roaring. Coed team smack talks. Girls team fires back. Game on! Remember I’m on the girls team so I might have been the one firing back. Sixth place finish for the chicks and the coed team is behind us by about 3 minutes. It’s all good. We all finished. We had a blast and we tackled obstacles we were not sure if we could do. And most importantly nobody on our team left injured, well maybe we all have some scrapes and bruises but no ambulance was needed. That’s always a positive way to end.

Before the official race started, so much took place. There was the big decision of using the porta-potty or not. Those things might just be the nastiest things on the planet. Nope, I’m sure of it! The things one sees when the lid is lifted are just not right. Add a little southern heat and you have an awful aroma that will gag you in less than a second. Now that you have an amazing pre-race visual…

The adventure really started with a gunshot, and then a second just to be sure we heard the first one. Oh yeah, in the competitive division at 8:30 am in the pouring rain. I picked the competitive slot but the others missed that fine detail. Oops…

Tasha is out of the gate and almost rolls her ankle in a hole. We were not even 500 feet into the race. Meanwhile, it’s called the Jail Break race for a reason. It runs along side the jail with real prisoners, barbed wire fence and lots of deputies with guns. For a few of the girls it was a little too up close for them. Especially when the guys in orange jumpsuits were doing their assigned duties on the course. It was a giggle fest for me!

Moving on to the death trap, I mean obstacle one and it was really called the Death Trap. Truck through very murky water that probably had snakes and leeches and whatever else lurked below. It was gross for sure. Hope you watched the GoPro video on our insta story for a glimpse of the action and of course the proof that the obstacle was in fact named the Death Trap.

Though the winding woods we run. Carefully avoiding the tree stumps, prickly bushes, thorns, deep mud pockets and of course the exposed roots. There are fences to climb, logs to balance, haystacks to hurdle and so much more.

And then in the middle of the woods we see a random house. Probably used for training as it looked like it was fresh out of a movie set. Through a window we go after navigating a garage and stuff. Hopped a few creeks and then we approach the border of the jail.

All the creeks lead to passages under the roads. They are legit covered in wire and reinforced fencing. I guess it’s to limit the chance of escape. I’ve seen it in the movies but this was front and center. So was the noise of what I think was the mess hall. We could hear the sounds of breakfast or recreation time as we ran along the fence line in the woods and on the pavement. What an experience.

Then we are at a hill with a rope. But the hill is extremely muddy. Of course it is! We are in the middle of a torrential rain storm. We barely make it up just to find out you have to go back down. Hilarious, I said to myself. Now I’m waiting at the bottom for my teammates and oh crap…

A 200+ pound man from another team is sliding down the hill with no chance of stopping and he takes me out. Just like a bowling ball nailing the center pin! I’m surprised I didn’t see stars after that one. Covered in mud I am. Down comes Milagros laughing uncontrollably at what she just witnessed. We move on carefully navigating the brush with thorns so we don’t wipe out on the muddy path that slopes downward.

Oopsie. Another casualty. Another grown man slipped and went up in the air and wiped out in grand fashion. Can’t wait to watch that footage on my GoPro. We had to giggle but at the same time we knew it was embarrassing and most likely painful but that’s why we signed the waiver.

We carried sandbags, 30-pound buckets of rocks and dirt, got chased by prisoners, scaled a few high walls and of course climbed through black tubing and crawled through wires and ropes of all kinds.

Run run run we are about 30 minutes into the race and we hit the tower and the officer training course. Climbed the ropes to the top of tower and traversed down. The nicest officer was manning that obstacle and he gave us guidance on the easier way to maneuver the rope/slope. Thank goodness because some of us girls were not using good form before he gave us instruction. See we only pretend to know how to do things.

Just when we felt success at the tower we jumped up a hole into some other wooden enclosure onto what looked like a log version of uneven bars in gymnastics. Yes, you had to free jump, hang, swing and maneuver to the next obstacle. I thought I was on American Ninja Warrior for brief second.

Then a balance beam uphill and downhill with moving things that hit you if you don’t duck. Then you run to two-story A-frame wooden thing you need to climb and then get down from. Are you tired yet?

Our adrenaline was flowing for sure. Some more tubes, some more fences, a few rock walls, a rope climb and then the big finale. Our clothes weighed 10 pounds each by now and our shoes were full of mud, sand, dirt, water and grime. Every step required extra power compared to arriving steps when we were dry.

How does it end? What is awaiting us? Do we go upside down and navigate a rope to the end or do you jump in the dumpster full of nasty brown water and who knows what else or how many people peed in it?

What’s the answer? Which path do I choose?

I earned my shirt. I earned my medal. I cheered on my friends. I did something I never did before and I had a blast doing it all. No stress. No worries. I lived in the moment.

Some won’t take a chance on things that are new, that make them feel uncertain. I tend to like those things. I never know if I will fail and that’s okay. If I fail I can always try again another day or say that’s not my thing anyway.

The point is I try. I try often. I experiment. I invite. I’m curious. My curiosity keeps me growing and evolving.

Hoping your weekend adventures took you to new heights. I know mine did. Thanks for reading today.

P.S. I was supposed to go kayaking after this race. The monsoon made the river too high and unsafe. What a bummer, but instead I had some free time to write this blog on my comfy couch with my dog while I recovered under a blanket. I’m not complaining just explaining a day in the life.