Monday, July 27, 2015

Then and Now...

As I am sitting in front of the television watching American Ninja Warrior and still dreaming I thought I would look through the pictures on my Facebook page and see if I could see a difference in my body over time.

I don't see a difference. I see the difference in what I am doing in the pictures, but I don't see a change in the body. What I notice most is the person I have always been deep inside finally coming to the fore. She doesn't feel she has to hide or pretend to be someone she isn't in order for people to like her. Some will like me and some won't. I can't control that, nor do I want to. Everyone has their own journey and I respect that.

I am still reluctant and very slow to trust, but I know if I am betrayed I will survive it. I am not fragile, I will not break. I might cry, I will hurt, but there is no quit in me. I thought there was at one time. I was convinced the world would go on and be a far better place without me. Yes, I considered a permanent solution to temporary obstacles and problems. No more: I am here to stay.

Thanks for taking the time to read and look at the pictures. It's been one hell of a ride and it isn't over yet. Brace yourselves.

December 2010

July 2011

October 2012
September 2013

May 2014
March 2015
There it is...some of the journey in pictures. Thanks for taking time out of your day to look. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tractor Tires, Ropes, Two Gold Stars and The Wall

Hmmm...interesting title. Either I'm going to be rambling about fitness again or this blog is about to veer sharply out of its generally PG track.

Wednesday night I set a new PR for a tractor tire deadlift. For the record it is 560 pounds. I set it during Muscle Hour at Pride Fitness Performance. I also tried to lift 610 pounds, but that didn't happen. It will happen, but this wasn't the week for it.

I have a new goal. It's not on my list of goals on the Wall of Pride, because I just decided on it. At my very heaviest, before I was a Mooser contestant I weighed 309 pounds. My goal for a tractor tire dead lift is 618 pounds. Somehow it feels important to be able to lift double what I used to weigh. I don't weigh that anymore, but I remember how it felt and I still see that when I look in a mirror.

Last week was the first week of a new phase at Pride Fitness Performance, also known as my happy place. Seriously, I love it there. Yes, there are times I leave so sore and tired I'm not sure I'll make it to my next class, but most of the time I do. Even with the buddy training sessions when the rowers come out I love it.

The rower is my undoing just about every time I get on. My trainer doesn't seem to mind: he earned two gold stars last week. In case you wondered: Tyler earns a gold star when he makes someone vomit. I'm not sure if I'm proud or just thoroughly embarrassed that he got two from me. The competitive part of me wants to keep getting on the rower and pushing as hard as I can until there comes a time I don't vomit when I get off.

The first time Tyler got a gold star was after a 3000 m row. He told Carole and I we had 17 minutes to get to 3000 m and we could take a break rowing, but not until we got to at least 2000 m. He also suggested that we keep a steady pace and not worry about speed. You see where this is going, don't you?

Yes...I really meant to keep a steady pace. The thing is when I know I can take a break at 2000 m and I'm at 1800 m this overwhelming need to get to the break erases every bit of common sense I possess, which is a woefully small amount as those of you who know me realize. So I got to 2000 m, took a break and then pushed to 2500, took a break and tried to keep a nice steady pace for the last 500 meters. Umm yeah, that lasted until 2750 and then I HAD to finish and I had to do it as fast as I could. The final time I pulled I knew Tyler was getting that gold star.

I have spent enough time working out to recognize when vomiting is inevitable. When I feel as if I can't draw in a full breath I get panicky. Sometimes I have the presence of mind to remind myself I am still getting oxygen, I will not die and I am fine. Not so much after 3000 m. I'll spare you the details and just say that the second gold star was earned courtesy of the rower as well. The second time was during a crazy intervals bout with the rower. Crazy intervals, if you care, are steady pace for 40 seconds, as fast as possible for 20 seconds, steady pace for 60 seconds and a final as fast as you can 20 second round.

I am determined not to give Tyler another gold star. I like him, I trust him 100%, but I am not giving him another gold star. I'm not really angry about those stars. To me they mean that Tyler offered me a challenge and I gave everything I had to give to meet that challenge. Oh, not that it matters, but I finished my 3000 m row in 14 minutes and 10 seconds.

As most of you know I have a goal to climb the rope at my happy place and ring the cowbell. I hoped I would meet that goal on Friday. Sadly, I didn't ring anything. I did get farther up the rope than ever before, but not close enough to ring that bell. Since then I have been obsessively watching You Tube videos and reading everything I can find about what to do with my feet when I'm trying to get up the rope. I have a good deal of upper body strength, but not enough to haul myself up the rope with no legs. I have a couple of different methods to try the next time the opportunity presents itself. We'll see how it goes.

There is a new toy at my happy place now. A wall, the combat wall as Tyler has named it. One side is about 8 feet high and the other is at least 10 feet. Walls scare me, there I said it. I am afraid of walls. I am not afraid that I might fall off and get hurt, no that would be a sensible fear. Nope, what I am afraid of is that I will fail and make a fool of myself.

I have grown and changed a lot on this journey, but the fear of looking like a fool is still there. I want to look competent, heck I want to be competent. Ask me to flip a tire or dead lift and I jump: I know I can do those things and I do them pretty well. Walls, not so much. If I get a boost I can get to the top and over without too many splinters in places splinters were never meant to be. I can even come down on the other side without breaking anything (at least so far).

The thing is: I want more. I want to be able to get up and over the walls by myself. I figure I should be able to get up and over the 8 foot wall alone. I'm not saying there is any shame in getting a boost, but my stubborn streak says I can do it on my own.

I'd like to tell you the next time I post I'll be able to tell you I rang the cowbell and I made it over the 8 foot side of the wall under my own steam. The fact is that probably won't be the case since I have a few ideas brewing at the back of my mind that will need addressing soon. Stay tuned though: the wall, the rower and the rope will be conquered and with any luck I will not be giving Tyler his third gold star.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Me? Really?

I'm back, not that you noticed I was gone, but I'm back now. I decided this year when I went on vacation I was not bringing my laptop, in part because something about that cottage and my laptops spells doom and I'm not in the market to be buying a new laptop this summer. I did that last summer, it was expensive. Also because, even though I knew I had something to say I wasn't sure how to say it or if I needed or wanted to say it.

By the fact that there is a new post you can guess what conclusion I came to. Yes, this blog is public and you are reading it, but it's also my blog. I get to pour the crazy out here and you can choose whether or not to read it. I won't know who reads it and who does not. Yes blogger has a feature that tells me how many times a post has been viewed, but I have no idea who those views were. Sometimes I know because I also post the link on Facebook and some of you comment. I am NOT begging for comments by the way. I want you to read if you choose and you are always welcome to comment, but it is not a requirement. I hope that this blog helps other people in some way, but mostly it helps me and that is its purpose.

In the weeks before my vacation I pushed myself like never before. If there was a class offered at Pride that I could attend I was there. Were they all stellar efforts? Maybe not, but I did my best. What I had to give to the workout I left in the gym. By the time I pulled out of the driveway on Saturday, July 11 I was ready for a break. I didn't do myself any harm pushing the way I did, but it was time to rest.

My last workout on July 10 was Survivor Series. There were ten exercises, each with 50 reps to complete, on the board. Once you started an exercise you had to do all 50 reps, you couldn't break it up. For the sit ups or the straight leg raises this didn't sound too bad at first, but by rep 50 it felt a lot like hell. Then there were the knees to elbows, those were hell from rep 1.

If you've never had the pleasure of trying knees to elbow let me try to explain it. You hang from a pull up bar or a set of rings and the goal is to bring your knees up to touch your elbows. It can be done, I've seen other people do it. Me? Well, my knees were elbow adjacent and by adjacent I mean they came up and I could see them, but they never touched. My core is stronger than it used to be, but it's not that strong.

I'll spare you every minute detail and cut to the chase: I finished all 500 reps (10 exercises X 50 reps=500) on Friday morning. Permit me a second to brag: I finished the same 500 reps on Thursday, then went on to buddy training. Bragging over before it gets obnoxious. Or maybe I should say before it gets MORE obnoxious.

There were also TRX rows which is where my thoughts for this post came from. I like TRX rows, not 50 of them in a row maybe, but I like rows. I can get in a rhythm with the TRX rows and as long as I don't lose count, which happens far more often than you'd think, I'm fine. Friday morning I probably wound up doing 60, given there was a period of time I was doing the rows and realized that I'd stopped counting. When that happens I've learned to just pick up with the last number I remember counting and continue on. Yes, it means I might do a lot more reps than I was supposed to, but if I can't count to 50 without my mind wandering off I deserve it.

Back to the point of this post, assuming I ever had one. We had a guest at our workout on Friday. My friend Hailey's sister, Kristin, was there with Eric. We were in the welcome area, I was sitting on a bench trying to remember my name, what my shoes looked like, if I had even worn the shoes I thought I had. You know, the normal post workout haze. Kristin said something that stopped me. She told me I was her hero. Yes, I actually looked around to see who was sitting beside me on the bench. No one was there so I smiled and said thank you. She told me I made the TRX rows look easy.

Then Eric spoke up mentioning that this compliment was coming from someone who didn't even know me and it was time I started believing people when they compliment me. Easy concept, right? Not for me. I don't think anyone is lying to me or stroking my ego, but I don't see it.

Despite this blog, I don't do what I do for pats on the head or attention. I appreciate the "Atta girls", the fist bumps and the kind words. I enjoy praise, I'm not going to say I don't. I am just not comfortable with recognition. When time for recognition comes around at Pride Fitness Performance I'm the one crossing my fingers and hoping. Not hoping my name will be mentioned, just the opposite: I'm hoping my name won't come up. I like celebrating my friends' accomplishments, let's leave it at that.

 I do what I do because the best part of my day is walking into that gym and seeing what I can do that I haven't done before. If I give myself time and I am patient I make progress. I'll be honest though, progress also comes when I get angry about something "defeating" me. I don't like to be defeated, in fact I hate it. When I can't do something I think I should be able to I get angry and eventually that anger will eat through any objections or fears my mind can manufacture and I'll try. I don't always succeed, but I will always try, eventually.

Vacation is over now, a new phase starts tomorrow and I'll be there pushing myself, looking for the next challenge and feeling surprised and bewildered when someone compliments me. Give me time, some day I might see and understand what you see. In the meantime feel free to keep complimenting me and I'll do my best to smile, say "thank you" and save my doubts for this blog.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Being Strong

Over a year ago I wrote a post on mental and emotional strength. This week I'm thinking about physical strength in general and my strength in particular.

I've had an idea in my head for the past three years that if I pursued my passion and developed my strength I would NEVER find a man. I am a bright woman, you would think I would have realized by now that if I subvert who I really am for anyone I'm lying and you can't base any real, lasting relationship on lies. Let's face facts, I'm 45: it seems pretty unlikely that I'm going to find anyone anyway. I'm not whining, even if there is someone out there for me I'm not ready yet. I'm not done growing yet.

Besides, I AM strong. I don't want to hide that. The men I know and spend the most time with don't seem to feel humiliated when I lift more than them. They cheer me on and encourage me. So, if you are intimidated by a woman who can deadlift 345 pounds on a barbell or hex bar and 550 pounds with a tractor tire you and I probably won't have much to discuss anyway.

I'd love to be a petite pretty woman. I'd like to weigh half of what I do now. While we're at it I'd like to have straight hair, small calves and arms without flab. Oh heck, while I'm dreaming let's wish for a jiggle free butt and thighs. Ooh, let's get rid of the jiggly belly too. All right, now that I'm done dreaming let's get real and I'll get to the point of this post.

I hit a new PR, personal record, during Muscle Hour. Prior to tonight I was thrilled with deadlifting 325 pounds. I'm still thrilled with that frankly. When I pulled that I hadn't done any heavy lifting in a quite a long time and I was beginning to wonder if my trainer had completely forgotten that I LOVE lifting heavy. Nope, not for a second. It turns out he had a plan and the things he had me doing instead made me stronger, improved my balance and made me just all around better.

Imagine that, the fitness professional knew more than me and he knew what he was asking of me would build a stronger, better me.

I wasn't sure I was going to deadlift over 295 tonight. My left shoulder, the same one I tried to crush attempting to tumble without a nice cushy mat, has been sore and achy lately. Lifting wasn't bothering it so after playing with single arm prowler rows and monster walks I went to the weight cave to try 345 pounds.

 I'm not necessarily a fan of an audience when I'm trying to do something I'm not 100% comfortable with. There was an audience in the weight cave. I expected Tyler to be there and I found I didn't mind everyone else gathering around either. I've learned what I need to focus on and tonight that was my form and picturing myself successfully lifting that bar. It worked and a little bit later I tried to lift 365 pounds. It didn't work as well for that, but the bar came up a half inch: that means I CAN do it. Not tonight, probably not next week, but if I keep applying myself and giving my all to everything I am asked to do 365 pounds will come.

As much as might have wanted to hide or play down my strength at one time, that just won't be happening. I want to embrace it and brag about it. It makes me happy to lift heavy or push or pull heavy so why shouldn't I be proud of that? Why shouldn't I want to talk about what makes me ME?

I am physically strong. I'd like to believe if there is someone up ahead on this journey then that person will be proud of my strength as well. If there isn't someone, then I am still surrounded by the most amazing support system anyone could ask for and I am not going to bemoan my single status. I am living a life I enjoy and doing what makes me happy for the most part. There are still a few things in my life I need to change, but I have a plan and I will take care of those last few details in good time.

For now I am going to bask in the knowledge that I am stronger than that 309 pound woman I once was. I will be proud that a co-worker told me yesterday that she couldn't believe that I was 45 years old. I will be proud that when I wake up most mornings I look forward to the day ahead and I am deeply thankful for the opportunities I have had to turn my life around.

I am strong, I won't hide that. I won't pretend not to be strong to protect any one's feelings or ego. I'm not going to walk around bragging about my strength and annoying everyone around me, but I will be quietly confident.

I keep looking at the rope and cowbell when I'm in the gym. I have a strong desire to climb it and one of these days when it's relatively quiet and I don't have an audience I am going to try. I might not climb it before July 31, but before the end of 2015 I will have climbed the rope and smacked that cowbell. I don't feel I have anything to prove to anyone, climbing the rope is something I want to do for myself and the little girl who watched her friends climb the rope in PE when she was in elementary school knowing she couldn't begin to get up it and she was too heavy for her PE teacher to help her.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 26, 2015


I am a HUGE fan of comfort zones. I do know I won't grow if I don't step outside what's comfortable for me, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. I am trying not to whine, but I wish I could find a way to grow and become who I want to be without stepping outside what is comfortable for me.

It's been a big week of stepping outside of what makes me comfortable. Going to conferences and learning new techniques and strategies is part of being a good teacher. I like to attend conferences so when the opportunity to attend the BEST Institute at the Killington Grand Resort came up in the Spring I asked to be included. I learned so much in the four days of the conference, things that will help me as a professional and things that I need to work on personally.

The team I was with worked hard. I tried to work hard too, but Tuesday was a rough day. I was over two hours from home, my cat, Eeyore, was sick and I felt like a fraud. I like to think I am an adequate special educator, but I am not a public speaker or a leader. My principal was there I wanted to show her I could be a leader, but it wasn't in me. I cried a lot on Tuesday: I was worried about my cat, homesick, missing my workouts and trying really hard to be a good team member. I swear every time we had a break or slowed down I was staring at the ceiling and blinking back tears, or not blinking them back. It got to a point where I dreaded needing a bathroom break because I knew the instant I was alone there would be tears and I'd have an overwhelming desire to run. Fight or flight I guess and I prefer flight.

Should you want to know the Killington Grand Resort has a nice fitness center. I visited it Monday and Tuesday and spent some time running (with some tripping) on the treadmill, using the elliptical, riding the stationary bike and using the rowing machine. Then did the "little" core circuit Tyler gave me to work on. I also did the core circuit Wednesday and even added a 2 minute plank at the end to see if I could do it when Tyler wasn't there encouraging me to hold on. I can do it, not sure my form was perfect, but given the trembling in my abs and quads I'd guess my form wasn't too bad.

I lived through it, so did the rest of the team. We have more work to do, but we accomplished more than I would have believed we could. I wasn't a leader, but I didn't need to be. I worked when I needed to work and that to me is what counts. To the people who think I have leadership potential thank you, but I'm not seeing it yet.

This morning I was back at Pride Fitness Performance. The workout was a team workout. Partners had a series of exercises to complete together. There was a Warrior Carry. Cool, I love the warrior carry. Oh wait, my partner was going to have to carry me? Seriously? CARRY ME?!? (Cue anxiety)

A million different questions ran through my head: Was Tyler trying to kill my partner? What was I going to do if my partner couldn't even pick me up? Would I be able to shake it off and make a joke of it or would I cry? My partner for this workout was Eric, the person I did the Warrior Carry with at Tough Mudder. I knew I could carry him, but I refused to let him try to carry me at Mudder. He assured me he could do it this morning and I bit my tongue, swallowed the doubts and fear and let him try.

I'm not going to say it was easy: there is a lot of me to lug around, but he did it. He told me that I worried too much when we switched and I carried him.

There's another thing I come up against that is far outside any comfort zone I might have: having my picture taken. Tyler takes a lot of pictures of our workouts. I think it is great to be able to relive the workouts by looking at pictures and I usually look at the photos and hope he hasn't taken any of me, or if he has I am waaaaay in the background, like he's by the Pride logo on the wall and I'm across the gym in the weight cave.

A little while ago, I noticed he'd posted pictures of the team workout. I loved them, seeing my friends flipping tires, carrying each other, sprinting, jumping hurdles and the pictures of the tug o'war. Then I saw it. It was black and white and I was carrying Eric. I won't deny it's a great picture, but that doesn't mean I like being in it. It takes me time to look at pictures with me in them and not cringe. There have been some pictures I've seen where it's been all I can do not to email Tyler and plead with him to remove them. I doubt he would: he knows what needs to be done better than I do. He certainly believes in me more than I believe in myself. If he posts a picture and I'm in it I have to trust it should be posted and move on with my day.

6/26/15 Warrior Carry with Eric H.
I have to stop being so hard on the woman in the mirror and cut her some slack. I would never talk to my friends the way I talk to myself. I know I've mentioned that endlessly, so I won't go on about it now. Maybe I can be a leader even if I get nervous and nauseated before any situation where I'm going to need to be with a group. Maybe, just maybe I am too hard on my body: it does some pretty amazing things. I should appreciate it. I'll work on that. I'll work on a lot of things. After all, nothing amazing happens if you stay in your comfort zone.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Maybe I'm just a whiner. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I'm just a normal human being who wants what she wants NOW, not later.

For two weeks now I've been struggling. Struggling to the point that I have missed two workouts. Yes, you read that right: I have skipped two workouts. I could claim I was tired, I could tell you I was giving my body a chance to recover from Tough Mudder. I could sugarcoat my absences any way I wanted, not to brag, but I am pretty good with words when I want to be. Maybe I could even make myself believe the excuses.

I'm not making excuses for myself, it won't help and I owe it to my trainer and to myself to be as honest as possible.He asked only one thing of me when he took over from my previous trainer: he asked me that I always be honest with him. If I wasn't happy with the changes he could deal with that, he just wanted me to be honest with him. Okay, I respect you Tyler, and I will be honest with you, with myself and with anyone reading this: I have missed those two workouts because I CHOSE to be lazy. I chose to roll over, look at the alarm and shut it off. Yesterday morning, I chose to let it start ringing, shut it off and snuggle Abbey. My body was ready to go, I was uncomfortable all day long because I changed my routine.

As is so often my problem, my mind got in the way. As hard as I try, there is still a mean girl whispering in my ear. She delights in pointing out all the ways I fail. It is her pleasure to sit on my shoulder when I look in the mirror and tell me I am still fat, I will always be fat and no amount of exercise is ever going to change how ugly I am. Since I've pretty much accepted that I won't ever see what other people see when they look at me, she's had to change her tactics. Attacking my looks isn't getting her anywhere, so now she's going after my fitness.

I gave that nasty little voice plenty of fodder at Tough Mudder. I noticed that I was the slowest one on the team. Big freaking deal: so I wasn't charging up the mountain: I got up the mountain and back down and up again. It wasn't a race for time, I knew that going in, but my speed or lack thereof bothers me so it makes a handy target for my perfectionist streak. Then there is my strength.

I am proud of my strength. I have reason to be proud. A 550 pound tractor tire deadlift, a 345 pound hex bar deadlift and a 325 pound barbell deadlift are things to be proud of, even I know that. The morning after Mudder I could not pull the sleeper sofa out to take off the sheets. If my friend Eric hadn't been there to make a joke of it and help me out I am pretty sure I would have had a tantrum, dissolved into a pile of tears and embarrassed the hell out of myself. We'll completely gloss over the meltdown after Skidmarked and the 10 minutes I spent alone on the balcony after we got back to the condo Saturday afternoon. Yeah, we'll forget about those. Even more for my mind to throw back in my face at every opportunity.

And let's talk about my headstands. On second thought, let's not. I can get my feet off the floor finally, but getting those legs up in the air is going to take a freaking crane, possibly an act of God. At the very least it's going to take one trainer a lot of time and talking to get me to attempt it.

So I've skipped two workouts, does that mean I throw in the towel, wave the white flag and walk away? In the past that is absolutely what it would mean. "I've missed two workouts, I've blown it, screw it". I would have justified walking away by saying I was only wasting Tyler's time, that without me around he'd have time to train someone else who deserved it more. I would have decided that my friends would still love me anyway. They definitely would still love me anyway, but deep down I know I wouldn't love myself.

It's not like I love myself a lot anyway. Sometimes I like me, but by and large I am not someone I would seek to spend time with. That's a horrible thing to say, isn't it? It feels horrible writing it, but there's that honesty thing again. I can't change it if I won't own it. I kind of like myself, but mostly I don't. There, I said it.

As much lip service as I've paid to knowing this is a process and a journey I'll be on for the rest of my life I didn't really believe that. I honestly thought this was a trip with an ending point, not a journey with more obstacles, twists and turns than I could have dreamed.

My next step is going to be silencing that nasty voice yet again. My inner "mean girl" needs to meet a hideous end. I know it won't keep her away forever, she'll creep back in the second I get lax about thinking about what I did well and trying to learn from what I didn't do well during a class or training session. When I forget I won't be the best at everything and that the goal is to make progress, not to be perfect that voice will be waiting to tell me what a waste of time this all is.

I have free will though and that means I can choose to listen or not. I get to decide if I am a waste of time that Pride Fitness Performance can do without, or if I really am inspiring to people for whatever reason. I don't pretend to understand how or why other people might see me as inspiring, but that's none of my business. My business is to do the best I can do to apply the coaching cues I get to become better, faster, stronger and hopefully more athletic.

There you have it...crazy little me in a nutshell. At the moment I'm going to end this post, go change and see if I can pull a double. Pride Fit class then buddy training. There's a chance I'll wind up a puddle on the floor, but I'll never know if I don't try and no one has told me not to try yet so I'll give it a whirl. I'll try anything once and maybe if I'm especially lucky there will be tire flips or something else I dearly love to do. A girl can always hope!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Don't Feed The Fears

Saturday, June 6, 2015 was the first day of Tough Mudder New England at Mount Snow. It was also the day I became a three time Mudder. Basically that tells you I have absolutely no clue that I have limits and that's a good thing. If I thought about my limits I'd just call it a day and go back to bed. Some days that sounds appealing too.

The course was challenging and long (10.2 miles). From my first Mudder I have felt the same way in the hours before go time: anxious, nauseous and excited. This time there was a tiny, tiny bit more confidence: after all I have been training a lot: 3 Pride fit classes, 1 Yoga Corr class, Muscle Hour, Buddy Training, and Saturday Morning Sweat every week I could. A couple of weeks I was able to add a second Yoga Corr class and head to Lyndonville for MRT with my badass friends. I'm pretty sure when Tyler asked me one morning if I wanted a part-time job he wasn't entirely joking, but he never told me to get out so it must have been fine, right?

Ah...there it is, the self-doubt. There was a heaping dose of self-doubt swirling through me every time I thought about Tough Mudder. Yes, I had completed the course two times before, but maybe that was just luck. Maybe I wasn't good enough. Not even a fist bump before we headed to the warm-up corral helped. I honestly didn't think I could do it.

I put on my best game face when we got over the start wall. I'm not sure if I looked confident, but I don't think I looked terrified. Thanks to sunglasses I don't think anyone even knew there were tears at that point. When we were released onto the course I started up the mountain with my team reminding myself it was one step at a time, all I had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other and I'd be fine.

The first obstacle was "Kiss of Mud 2.0". You get to army crawl under barbed wire that is right above you. I know this because it snagged my back a couple of times. This year Kiss of Mud included a chance to crawl through mud, then a really cold, muddy water and finally more mud. Then more hiking up and down the mountain.

Of all the obstacles we completed one of my favorites had to be Beached Whale. Not because it was easy, but because I got to try out some of my upper body strength. Tyler boosted me up, Eric grabbed one hand, Hailey the other and then I found the rope and pulled. It worked, I hefted myself up. Not that I did it on my own, not that I thought that was even possible, but I did some of the work on my own.

My favorite obstacle of the day was Warrior Carry. I made a promise to a friend that I would carry him the next time he did a Tough Mudder. I got my chance on Saturday. It was around Mile 7 and the right side of my lower back was complaining, but Eric was there waiting for me when I got to the obstacle. He asked if I was sure and I said I was. I gave him a piggy-back ride with a brief break to walk, then had him get back on and I carried him to the halfway point. Eric offered to carry me, but I said no. I might be smaller than I used to be, but 245 pounds is way too damn much for anyone to lug around, no matter how short the distance.

You noticed what I did, didn't you? I took a moment where I could have just been proud of how far I've come and what I've accomplished and I sabotaged myself by worrying about how heavy I still am. Well, if nothing else I'm consistent. Let's move on, shall we?

I conquered a fear on Saturday too. I completed Arctic Enema. The first year I did Tough Mudder I had every intention of completing Arctic Enema, but when it came to ducking under the water I lost my nerve and walked to the side to get out. A diver tried to help me, but I wouldn't allow it. Arctic Enema was "improved" this year. I used the quotation marks because I am not sure that sliding into icy water is an improvement. It certainly made it impossible to back out. Once I started down the slide I was committed. There were those moments I thought about clinging to the chicken wire and climbing back up and out. Glad I didn't do proof of chickening out isn't something I want. Instead I have a video showing that even though my brain was frozen on "HOLY CRAP THIS IS COLD!" something kept my body moving so I could get the heck out before I completely froze. On a happy note at least that dip in the ice water eased some of the complaining from my calves and back.

After we finished and gathered our headbands, finisher shirts and beer a few of us went to the merchandise tent. I found two t-shirts I wanted and as I was standing in line a decal I'd noticed when we went in before the race caught my eye again and I couldn't stop looking. It wasn't that it was so striking, it was what it said. "Don't feed the fear". I must have stared it for a good 3 minutes before I grabbed one. I had to have it, I really need the reminder that I am my own worst enemy.

I feed my fear all the time. I turn minor mistakes into glaring, irreversible character flaws that mean I should move to a cave in the woods and never see another human again. You know, that idea has a certain amount of appeal. Yeah, I should reel it back in and get to my point. You've wasted enough of your time on my rambling.

It's not that I want to feed my fears, but I'm not sure how to stop. Some of the fears (I am not good enough, smart enough or pretty enough) are messages I took from the way other people have chosen to treat me. I am smart enough to know intellectually that the way someone treats me is a reflection of them, but my heart clings stubbornly to the idea that if I were just a better person, people would like me.

I conquered some fears on Saturday, discovered a few other fears  (peg boards, heights and Walk the Plank) that I will be conquering. Some of my fears are works in progress and I need to figure out how not to feed them.

In the meantime I have completed three Tough Mudders  and I am planning how to complete my fourth. I don't want to weigh 245 for my next Tough Mudder, Not that the number on the scale is a measure of my worth, but I'd be a complete idiot to think this weight doesn't make it harder on my body to go up and down mountains. I am many things, but I am not a complete idiot.

So I will continue training and yes I will likely show up so often Tyler will wonder if I've moved in. I will follow a nutrition plan that will help me get leaner. As much as I think a Tough Mudder at a venue without a ski mountain might be fun, I think I might have one more go at Mount Snow in me.

Thanks for reading!