Sunday, April 6, 2014

On Public Challenges...Again, Battling Mental Demons, and Searching for Excuses.

Part one of the Warrior Dash Series.

April 6, 2014

Like all good stories, this one begins with a public challenge. Wait, didn’t this whole journey begin with a public challenge?

There was an indication on my cell phone that I had been tagged in a status on Facebook. This is not something out of the ordinary, so I immediately checked my page to see what it said. My friend, Maria Mercado, thought it would be the right venue to call me out and challenge me to enter the Warrior Dash with her. I looked through the web site and immediately decided that it was not for me.

I turned off my phone and went back to work. Two minutes later I logged back into the web site. I spent a considerable amount of time watching the videos and checking out all of the obstacles. Those minutes spent watching the videos solidified my original thought that a race such as this was not for me, but my fingers did the talking for me when I logged back into Facebook and typed ‘I’M IN!’ for all the world to see…and that’s how this all began.

The mental preparation was the first to begin. I immediately began thinking about my wardrobe (a girl has to look cute!) and decided that I would wear something tight and cute. After all, being aerodynamic was going to get me over the fire hurdles faster and safer! The next thing I began to think about was that I needed to buy elbow braces, knee braces, and ankle braces—this girl is 42 years old and I can’t be messing with my joints at this stage in life, right? This is about the time that the loud voice in my head reminded me that BECAUSE I was 42 years old, I HAD NO BUSINESS DOING AN OBSTACLE COURSE RACE!

Paranoia naturally set in. What am I getting myself into? What if I fall and break my neck? What if I burn my ass while jumping over fire? What if I make it halfway through and stop? What if? What if? What IF? I knew that the only way to get over these feelings of apprehension was to call in the big dog; Joe Rose!

If you have been keeping up with my blog or with my Facebook, you will be very clear on who he is to me. He is my friend, my confidant, one of my trainers, and one of my biggest supporters. I knew that this race would be something that he would consider doing with me. Lucky for me, he immediately agreed to do it. Soon after, he announced to me that my other two trainers from The Training Zone, Sean and Trevor, would also be doing the race with me. Suddenly there was no way out from this public challenge; the point of no return was reached and there was only the future to look forward to.

I began doing strength training and started boot camp classes with my friend Jackie to work out every muscle in my body. If you have ever done boot camp, you will agree with me that those classes are pretty intense. I would begin sweating in my car from the nerves of going through the classes! I walked into my first class not knowing what my body was capable of doing in this type of a class. I am pretty certain that the head trainer at FitBody Boot Camp, Mike Cahl, took one look at me and thought he had his work cut out for him! He and the other trainers, Stacy and Daniel, had me jumping, contorting my body, kicking, punching, planking, and squatting to music I couldn’t stand!!! I did everything that my body was capable of doing, and I knew by week two that I was going to go into this race physically prepared to conquer anything.

Something was still missing.

As the days passed and race day neared, I began to seriously doubt myself and looked for reasons why I couldn’t do the race:

A)    I couldn’t afford it—the entry fee was already paid for.
B)    I had nothing to wear—my husband took me shopping for new gear.
C)    I didn’t want to slow anyone down—everyone was doing this FOR me and WITH me.
D)    Maria couldn’t get out of work to do it with me—the team kept getting bigger and suddenly there were 6 of us from OC and 4 from LA.
E)     The web site said the course was moderately hilly—there is a ‘random hill’ feature on the treadmill.
F)     I’m too old—the videos showed others my age completing the course.
G)    I’m too fat—this only works if you’re fat and not fit.
H)    I’m scared—yes! This one was the one that had to work for me.

That last one would have worked for me. Honestly, the voices in my head of self-doubt were so strong that I had myself convinced that there was no way in the world that I would make it to the race. The thought of letting everyone down was not devastating enough for me to muster up the mental fortitude that I needed in order to get over the hurdle—figuratively AND metaphorically.

On Friday, the day before the race, I walked into The Training Zone to get in a final workout before the race. The whole way down there I was thinking of the right words to use with my trainers to let them down (gently) by telling them I couldn’t do the race. Terror won. I lost.

Driving into the parking lot felt very familiar and set me in a mental place that I don’t find anywhere else but there. As I began to walk the steps towards the gym, I noticed that my posture improved and my mind began to clear itself of the self-doubting voices that kept me from embracing the challenge I was about to embark upon. And then I walked into the gym…

Trevor was sitting at the front desk. He lifted his head and when he saw that it was me, the broadest smile came across his face and through his eyes. It was at that precise moment that I felt all of the fear leave my body. I am going to explain a little here in the best way I know how. Trevor is like that pair of cleats that you wore as a child that always fit just right, never pinching your toes or giving you blisters in your heal. He is like the softball glove my brother bought me when I was a child—well loved and never let me down. He is like that book on your shelf that no matter what you are going through, you can walk up to it, open it to any page, and a passage from that page will make everything in your life make sense. That’s who Trevor is and I had him all to myself as I spilled my guts about everything I feared about the race.

It only took him a few minutes to convince me that not only was I invincible and well-prepared, but more importantly, that this race had nothing to do with time and everything to do with completion; he said, “You are not competing against anyone, Lori. We are all doing this for you so we will be by your side the entire time.”

Poof. It was like he sprayed from a magic can and my fear was gone. Minutes later, as if Trevor had pushed the imaginary panic button underneath the front desk, Sean walks in and immediately hugs me and asked me if I was ready for the race. For the record, I have no idea if there’s a panic button underneath the front desk. For the record, crazy, insecure women like me are the reason why all gyms should have panic buttons underneath the front desk!

I went home from The Training Zone without getting in a workout. The thing about this place is that sometimes all I need to do is walk in to center my soul. When my life is in disarray and nothing or no one can fix it, I know to go there. I was ready to take on the world when I walked out the door.

Then I realized that I didn’t have anything to wear…