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Hello, Challenge, My Old Friend

2016-06-15 Posted By Jenna



Has anyone else been hearing the Jaws theme song lately? It’s not just me, is it?

Anyway, I don’t know why I brought that up - on to business! Tough Mudder (half) is coming up on the 25th and it is unlike anything I’ve ever done before (and if you know me, you know that that’s saying something)! Sure, getting to be a 2nd degree black belt in Karate is also challenging, but in a completely different way. In Karate, when you’re testing for your next belt you know what you’re going to be tested on - everything from the first day of training is fair game (like school). So, you practice, practice, practice everything you’ve learned.

Tough Mudder, on the other hand, I’ve never even seen one before! I’m going in blind. This doesn’t mean, however, that I haven’t been training for the last 10 months to give myself the best shot at survival. But all this training, it’s all been done in a gym (and on the seawall). Whether I like it or not, it’s nothing like what it’s going to be when it’s time to get down and dirty in the mud, ice and electricity. So what am I doing right now? Am I quitting? Wait, how did you know I was writing this after fleeing to Mexico?! I’m kidding…kind of…

What I’m doing is (still) trusting my trainer, who has been with me every step of the way. I’m giving it everything I have in the gym (and then giving it 3 more). I’m also still holding out hope that I’ll get that “runner’s high” that everyone raves about, as I rip down the seawall in my chair, so I can actually enjoy it! (OK, you know what, level with me, the “runner’s high,” it’s just a myth, right?)

When I first started training, I felt like I had all the time in the world. And without the pressure of time, I got to focus on being proud of the different milestones that I seemed to be achieving faster and faster. Like, at the beginning I was only benching the weight of the bar (about 45lbs), but a month later (on my 25th birthday) I was benching 95lbs (after having asked if we could start using the “big girl weights”)! As crazy as it sounds, I actually relish my limits being stretched to the brink - it’s how I understand people see the potential in me.

Some of you may not consider this the healthiest way to think - fair enough. I will argue, however, that when you deal with a pretty severe medical condition so many people err on the side of caution, not wanting you to feel bad about the things you can’t do. I’m lucky that I haven’t met too many people like this (or, at least, haven’t kept them around). In fact, from the get-go, I’ve mostly been surrounded by people who have had me on the edge of my seat. Some of these people do it to torture me, others (I secretly realize) do it to help me be better and better. This is the type of attitude I needed from the person who was going to get me to this point. And even though I could barely move after the first week or two with this person (I call him, “Yes, Sir!”), I couldn’t help but smile because I knew the pain meant that my body was getting so much stronger (at least, that’s what I hoped the pain meant).

To be honest, though, what keeps me up at night isn’t me wondering whether or not this adventure is too big for me to handle or if I’ll be able to tackle every obstacle - not technically. Right now what seems to be standing in my way is my feeling guilty that, as the only person in a chair, I’ll need more help than the other guys. They are literally only doing this because of me. I know this, the guys know this, and yet here we still are! I will say, however, it’s not like if the roles were reversed I’d think twice about helping a friend achieve a challenge like this - I’d just be pissed about all the training I’d need to be doing to make sure I can get through it, too :P Does this make sense to anyone else?

So, I’m guessing what I have to do is get over my damn ego and keep pushing until the bitter end, grateful that I have the best damn team beside me! Not just because they’re all really strong men with rippling muscles from being personal trainers (I mean, that doesn’t hurt for something like this), but they’re also focused on the trifecta one needs to achieve one’s personal best - the mind, the body and the spirit. They don’t expect me to crush every obstacle, they just want to see me give every obstacle that I attempt everything I have.

Going forward, I’m going to stop overthinking this process. I’m going to keep training, keep getting stronger, and trust my team’s ability to problem-solve when we get to an obstacle that we haven’t completely figured out how to overcome, yet. Tough Mudder is all about teamwork and believing that we all have strengths that will be the reason the other person makes it to the finish line. Now, if only we could construct a society based on people seeing the strengths in each other first and not our weaknesses, that would be great! But that’s a topic for another time…

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“Overcome the notion that we must be regular... it robs you of the chance to be EXTRAORDINARY ”
Uta Hagen
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