Proving Myself Wrong

This weekend was very emotional for me because I traveled to my hometown for my brother-in-law’s wedding.  It was a joyous occasion and a few days filled with memories and flashbacks.  Some were great and some were painful.  I’m of course going to focus on one of the more painful ones.  I feel like I had a bit of a break through in my emotional journey this week.

Over vacation it’s always hard to get a workout in but since the hubby was with me, I knew we could carve out some time.  Twice I went running and did some body weight exercises.  On Sunday morning, I was able to get away and spend sometime by myself on the track.  While I was running, it hit me.  This is where I gave up on myself.

All through my childhood I never felt good enough.  I felt the same way when I did sports.  In basketball, I was always second string no matter how ‘hard’ I worked (which let’s face it, was never really that hard).  In track, I was never fast enough or fit enough to have any success at running. I ran the 400 meter, the 4 X 200 meter and sometimes the 4 X400 meter. I remember a lot of 4th place ribbons but NEVER a 1st place.  I now believe that it was on that track that I gave up on myself.  I suffered an injury during my freshman year of basketball where I dislocated my kneecap.  I used this as my excuse for rest of high school and beyond. “I can’t run. I have a bad knee.” is what I would tell people all the time.

What I think I was really excusing was my feeling of failure.  If I never tried, I never failed right? I committed my time to music and the arts and decided that was good enough and it has brought me so much joy in my life. But I gave up on my dream of every being a runner or a strong athlete.


As soon as I arrived at the track, I felt it all over again. The track felt huge and yet so small at the same time.  I could hear my coaches yelling about how slow I was.  I could hear myself saying I would never be fast enough.  I would never be a runner.  I would always be ashamed of my athleticism.  I would never feel good about myself.  I would………give up.  It wasn’t just one day or one track practice; it was over time.  But that’s where it happened.  That’s where my life got paused.  That’s where I decided I wasn’t worth it.

As I began to run, I knew I was going to click over my 200th mile on my Nike+ running app. I thought back to all the miles I’ve run in the last year. One year ago I ran my first 5K. I remember being SUPER nervous like everyone was going to be watching me. I didn’t know if people would walk or run or judge me for walking. Now here I am, literally hundreds of miles from where I was. When you’ve trained and become a runner at a higher altitude, it’s much easier to run at a lower altitude. I’d already set how far I wanted to run before resting, but I found I never needed it. I could just keep running. And running. And running.

As I clicked over that 200th mile, which in all actuality is probably my 300th mile (since I never track at the gym and forget sometimes), I could feel my old self running with me. I could feel that 14 year old girl who never felt good enough falling behind. I could hear her shouting that I’d never be good enough or fast enough or pretty enough or just……enough. But this time I knew she was wrong.


She was wrong about so many things. So many things. Now I try to never think I can’t do something. Sometimes I think maybe I shouldn’t, and then I try anyway. Now I know that with the proper training, I can do anything I want to do. Now I know that only you can change you.

15 years ago I could have never pushed myself to run that track the way I did because I never knew I had it me in.  Now I know.  That’s the difference.  Sorry for the language mom, but I ran the shit out of that track.  All by myself.  With no coach.  No teammates.  No one to push me but my own self.  And if felt freaking awesome.

I’m a Tough Mudder

Last weekend I ran and finished the Colorado Tough Mudder! For those of you that don’t know, the Colorado Tough Mudder is a 11.6 mile race with 20 obstacles.  If that wasn’t hard enough, you start at 9,000 feet above sea level and rise another 2,600 feet along the course.  Needless to say, it was a hard hard race. I’ve heard of obstacle races but never done one.  So like usual if I’m going to bother, I might as well start with one of the hardest right? 12038341_10102940125571889_6562355846442917289_n


My friend Blanche approached me about running it a few months ago.  I’ve known Blanche for several months now and we work out together sometimes at TOS Boxing Gym.  She is simply the sweetest and nicest person I think I’ve ever met.  When she first asked me, other than it being a messy obstacle race, I didn’t know much about it.  Being the moron I am, I agreed to do it before knowing much about it.  No one would have EVER approached me about running a race like the TM 3 years ago.  Not even 2 years ago.  1 year ago I’m not sure I could have finished. Thank goodness I felt obligated to fill one of the spots on Blanche’s team after I’d agreed or I might have missed out on one crazy and incredible weekend.

When I finally looked up the race, I couldn’t believe what I’d just signed myself up to do.  The Tough Mudder is an expensive race, plus it was a three hour drive to the mountains and required a hotel night stay.  I was already worried about how much money it would cost.  So I spread the registration, parking pass and hotel night over a few pay periods.  Eventually I saw on the Tough Mudder site that you could volunteer the second day of the race and get a reimbursement for your registration. Um… the race for free if I volunteer? Sign me up! More on that later….

So we arrived in Snowmass Village, Colorado on Saturday Morning.  We got up pretty early to leave the city and make it in time for my start wave.  We made it with over an hour to spare, which I was thankful for.  At this point, I still didn’t really know what to expect.  I had looked up the race course and saw it was 11.6 miles and not the 10 miles I had been told.  I saw where the obstacles were and how far the running distance was between but I didn’t look up the obstacles or how to do them.  I have been going to obstacle course training once a week for about a month.  So I knew there wouldn’t be anything that I didn’t know how to approach or have the ability to do safely.  I set out to run the course with two objectives in mind: finish and don’t get hurt.

11990557_10102931922171569_8121776386348160277_nBlanche told me to start without them because she knew the group would slow me down.  What she didn’t know what I wasn’t running for time.  I was running for the experience.  The only reason I had trained was so I had confidence about my abilities and knew what I could do.  I of course waited for the team and we all started together.  At the start line is Sean Corvelle.  He is known as “The Voice of the Mudder”.  He gave an incredibly motivating speech filled with “Hoo-rahs” and shouting.  He informed us of the Mudder Motto: No Mudder Left Behind.  So when you finish and obstacle, you turn around to see who might need help behind you.

I was thankful that I had not looked up the obstacles.  There were a few that I might not have tried if I knew exactly what I was doing.  Some were freezing cold, some were wet, some were waist high mud and some were physical.  Of course I loved the physical obstacles the best.  When I got to the “Berlin Wall” I knew exactly how to get up and over by myself without getting hurt.  This is why I went to training.  Here’s a perfect ‘cat hang dismount’ over the wall!


One of my favorite moments of the race was at this obstacle: Balls to the Wall.


Once again I made it up and over with no problem.  My teammates were aghast at my ‘monkey’ capabilities. But once again….training!  When I got down, I waited for my teammates and looked for anyone that needed help.  Once all four of us were over the wall, I saw the crowd was cheering someone on.  At the top of the wall, a girl was stuck.  She was heavier than expected for the physical requirements of this race.  I saw myself in her immediately.  Everyone was encouraging her but no one was up there with her.  I looked around and said, “Is anyone going to get up there?” And then I realized I was probably the best person to do it. I was NOT going to let this girl fail.  So I climbed the obstacle once again and talked her over the top.  She was frozen and terrified of falling.  BUT with my help, she was able to muster enough courage to get over the wall herself and down safely.  I’ll never forget the smile on her face when she accomplished it.  I don’t know if that girl finished the race.  I know I’ll never see her again, but that moment was special to me.  I saw so much of myself in her and it felt awesome to help her!

The hardest part of the race wasn’t the distance or the grossness or the altitude or the obstacles.  The hardest part of the race was how long it took to do it.  My team crossed the finish line in just over 5 hours.  During the last hour I was really bored.  I was tired of the race, tired of being muddy, tired of running, just…….tired!  I knew I could keep going and I never thought of stopping.  5 hours is a long time for my brain to focus on any one task.  I do 50 million things all day everyday and to take that big of a chunk of time was hard for me!  I think I could have finished in 4 hours but it was worth the extra hour to have the company!


On Sunday, Dan and I volunteered at the check-in table. It was so fun to wish the runner’s good luck and answer questions they had about the course.  Later, after people couldn’t check in anymore, we got to go to the finish line and put people’s headbands on when they crossed the finish line!  That was even better!  We could watch them go through the last obstacle, Electroshock Therapy, and then cheer them into the finish.  Electroshock was no joke.  It dropped me to the ground!


Here’s what I knew about running the Tough Mudder:

  • It would be hard and gross.  It would be long.
  • Wear clothes that I don’t care about! (Which I did end up crossing the finish line with less than I started with but I kept and cleaned everything else)
  • I’m going to need a serious nap afterwards.
  • I could do it.

Here’s what I didn’t know about the Tough Mudder:

  • What I was really getting myself into.
  • When running the TM there’s a huge sense of camaraderie. Everyone is one big team; at least until mile 9 or so. There were 7,500 runners the day I ran.
  • HOW Hard, HOW Gross, and HOW Long it would actually be.
  • That I could get though it without breaking down mentally.
  • I wouldn’t be able to take a nap for sometime but Free Pumpkin Beer kinda helps 🙂
  • How proud I would be to finish.

Things to remember for next year:

  • Spray sunscreen is really convenient for your hairline which will be nearly purple by the time you finish if you do nothing.  See above shot of Electroshock Therapy.
  • Wear a bright color so you can find yourself in the photos as your # is likely to be destroyed.
  • Bringing a backpack or bag is not as much of an inconvenience as I expected, like one of the members of our team did.
  • Bring a better marker because a Sharpie will wash off in the first obstacle.

The Tough Mudder is another thing on the very long list of accomplishments this year.  It’s something I could have NEVER done before.  It’s something I couldn’t have even dreamed about doing.  And now I’m a Tough Mudder!  Hoo-RAH!

My Identity

These past few days and weeks I’ve had a lot of new people asking me about my health, diet and fitness.  While it feels super awesome to inspire others and lend and ear, it has gotten me thinking a lot about my identity.


My Obese Identity

When I was morbidly obese, I always knew I was ‘the fat one’.  I didn’t want this to be true but it was either way I look at it.  What I mean is, how would your friends fill in this sentence:

“Oh you’ve met her, she’s the ______ we had dinner with the other night…..”

When filling in that sentence for me, undoubtedly that blank would be filled with FAT ONE.  And who could blame anyone? My obesity was tied up in my identity.  I’ve said this many times on this site but I’ll say it again: Being obese is like carrying the thing to hate most about yourself on the outside where everyone can see it.  I do think there are other things that could have filled that blank when I was obese like: the music teacher.  But that’s my job, which I love, not who I am. I didn’t want to be known for being the fat one OR for just being a music teacher.  Being “THE FAT ONE” was never my true identity but I thought it was at the time.


My Identity Now

I know that this sentence is much much different for me now.  There’s so much emotional work that goes along with changing what you look like.  One thing I wasn’t prepared for on my journey, was how others would respond to me.  I’ve changed my identity in society.  Everyone puts everyone in boxes all day long.  I’m slotted into a much different box of stereotypes now than I was before.  This is both good and bad.  BUT I’m so proud of the things that I would fill that sentence with about myself now:

runner, fit girl, boxer, ninja, crazy person……

People still assume things about me all day long.  When I was obese people automatically think: lazy, slow, unambitious, early death. (Which were all true)  Now I think people think: Health freak, gym rat, nutrition nerd, runner (which are all kinda true too…..) The point is, I’m ok with my identity in society now.  If someone thinks I’m too muscley, I’ll take that EVERYDAY over being half way to a heart attack.  If someone assumes I spend 10 hours a days at the gym because of how I look, I’m ok with that stereotype too.  I didn’t just change the way I look on the outside and the way I feel on the inside.  I changed who I am to the entire world.  Pretty freakin cool.