Tag Archives: Running

Rugged Maniac

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“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”
-Thomas A. Edison

“I didn’t train enough.” “I won’t be able to complete the obstacles.” “What the hell was I thinking?”

It’s a week before my first obstacle course 5k, and I am silently talking myself down.

Just a few months earlier, I excitedly signed up for a race called the “Rugged Maniac” which is “a 3.1-mile course filled with 20+ obstacles designed to push you to your limits!” The obstacles range from crawling underneath wire to jumping barricades, and from dodging swinging tires to swimming through mud pools. When I signed up, I figured it would be much more doable for me than say a 10 mile tough mudder. But suddenly, as I sneak a peek through the full obstacle list, I can feel my optimism sink to pessimism. I turn to a co-worker and tell her, “CRAP. Look at this obstacle. How will I EVER be able to do that?!”

I think about texting my friend Neil and canceling on him. I think about telling him I’d love to still come watch our crew compete, but that I’ll have to sit this one out. At the time, I’m not sure what I’m more concerned about–thinking I haven’t trained enough to tackle a 5k with 20 obstacles–or the thought of possibly holding back my teammates by being unable to complete the course.

Somehow I talk myself out of texting Neil.

“You’ll be okay, Libs. You got this.”

What I’ve learned this past year is that we can often be really good at talking ourselves out of things, but that it takes discipline and strength to remind ourselves that the things we fear doing are often times the most rewarding to tackle.

When the Rugged Maniac rolled around last Saturday, I threw on my race day clothes: black shorts, black tank, yellow glasses and a black bandana. Safe to say, I looked like a bumble bee warrior.

I then laced up my sneakers–an old pair of nikes that I didn’t mind ruining in the mud obstacles–and headed out the door to meet my teammates who had driven up from Pennsylvania. Our team consisted of my good friends and brothers: Neil, Nick, & Ross; and Ross’s girlfriend Martina.

As I climbed in the car, my nerves continued to rumble. I’ve competed in a lot of races–but never have I done one that would test me in such a way as this. Normally, for me, races are a good test of stamina, endurance, and leg power. This race would require more–it would require upper body strength, something I’ve lacked for most of my life. But again, I didn’t want to disappoint my teammates. Each of the brothers and Martina had done a series of tough mudders and longer obstacle courses in the past, so I knew that they were much more prepared for this than me. “I hope I don’t die,” I exaggerated in the car.

Less than an hour later I was standing in line to check our bag for the race. While I patiently awaited my turn to check the bag, I turned to the couple behind me and struck up a conversation. I asked if they had ever done one of these races before. The man looked at me and smiled, “Yep. They are a good challenge. I broke my ankle on the last one I did.”

And that was the end of our conversation.

After I checked our bag, our team of five headed to the start line where we were greeted with our first obstacle–a five foot barricade that needed to be hopped before you could even cross the start line. With the help of Ross, I made it over. “Oh boy. For each of those, I hope you know I’ll need your help.” Ross smiled. “No problem.”

And then it was go-time.

Within moments, we were faced with rolling hills of dirt. Without thinking, I raced up and down the hills. As I reached the last one, I heard a scream and watched as a woman face planted into the concrete below. “Shit. Okay, forget about it and move on,” I sighed to myself.

The five of us continued on through the next series of obstacles which included a military style sprint through tires that were set on the ground. “I can do this,” my confidence grew as I successfully completed the tire challenge without clumsily stumbling. Next up was the flying tires, crawling underneath wire, and more barricades. Ross got down on a knee and helped me climb each of the barricades.

I could feel myself starting to breathe heavier, and I told the team that if they needed to get ahead–they could, and not to feel bad, that I would catch up.

Neil looked at me and laughed. “Libs. Our team name is Libsters > Hipsters. If we leave you behind, the hipsters win. That’s not going to happen.”

I laughed. I was grateful to be with a team for a race like this. I knew that their support would get me through the series of obstacles that we still had yet to complete including a rope climb over a slanted barricade, 100 yards of hurdles, endless ladder like barricades, a balance beam and several mud pools.

In an hour’s time we closed in on one of our final obstacles: crawling tunnels–which required us to slide through a downhill tunnel, crawl through a pool of mud, and then pull ourselves up via rope through an uphill tunnel.

Screen Shot 2013-07-06 at 11.19.57 AM-Photo Credit: Rugged Maniac

As I went to climb through the uphill part, I could feel my feet losing their grip in the tunnel. A woman had already started her ascent through the tunnel, and put her hand up out in front of her. “Here, push off of my hand, you got this,” she shouted.

With a little push, I got myself through the tunnel and out into the open. My teammates were patiently awaiting. “You good Libs?” I looked at the woman who had just helped me complete the last obstacle, “Better than good. Let’s do this.”

Within fifteen more minutes, we made it to our final obstacle: “A sui-slide” which was a giant inflated slide into a pool of mud. But before getting to take the plunge, we’d have to climb to the top which included an inclined barricade that would need be to climbed with the help of a rope; an inclined net, and another laddered barricade. My teammates asked me if I would be good. Confidentially, I said yes. As I looked up, I remembered something that my good friend David told me during our road trip. “Do one thing every day that scares you. And then do one thing every day that terrifies you.” I was definitely living out this mantra.

I grabbed a hold of the rope and started my climb. However, unlike the last roped incline I tackled, my feet were now covered in slick  mud. Several steps from the top of the incline, I could feel my feet begin to slip out from underneath me. Holding the rope tight, my body banged against the wall. I managed to pull myself back up to my feet and give it another attempt–again slipping. Nick was waiting at the top. He reached out his hands grabbed me. Ross met him, and grabbed my other hand. “Don’t worry Libs, we aren’t gonna let you fall.” As they started to pull I kicked my legs. And with one more tug, I was over the first part of the uphill obstacle.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I regained my composure.

I really did have the best teammates a girl could ask for.

But before the guys could let me get too sentimental for them helping me, we all climbed the final two parts of the uphill battle before having the chance to  hit the sui-slide.

As we crossed the finish line, I felt a giant burst of pride.  “That was awesome,” I cheered. Neil laughed at me.

It was just another reminder that sometimes the biggest obstacle we will face is “just doing it” in the first place.

Special Thanks, Neil, Nick, Ross & Martina

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POST RACE
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How to Relax Without Being a Lazy Bum

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After someone told me, recently, that I needed to rest–and to give myself a chance to relax, I laughed. And then I realized she was right–I’ve been on the go a lot. The problem is that when I think of relaxing, I think of the terrifying idea of wasting a day lying on a couch, legs dangling over the end, and a bag of chips within reach.

So I got to thinking what are good hobbies to do when you want to relax–but you don’t want to be a lazy bum? I came up with running, drawing, pottery, and dance. While running and dance may seem TOO active to be relaxing, I’ve learned that you can find ways to really “zen out” while doing even the most exhilarating of hobbies. (Lindsey Lewis over at MindBodyGreen even argues this feeling in the article “Why Meditation is Overrated” as she lists 9 activities you can definitely meditate on.)

I then began to wonder–what are other people doing to relax, but to also stay active both mentally and physically? So I took to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and posed a question:

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The results varied from activities like surfing, which is physical and can remove mental stress (unless of course you are terrified of that ocean like I am), to things I know I need to try– like painting and gardening which give the body a break but still exercises the mind a bit.

Here are some of the responses:

K.M.: “Gardening , it is relaxing and you can see results. Some are immediate but many are gradual little rewards of beauty for steady maintenance and patience. It helps the soul to work with your hands in the earth and with plants. Fresh air , sky and greenery. Also hiking. It’s the nature again, keeps things in life in perspective.”

Robert DeSanti: “I paint/draw pictures of dinosaurs, do tasks in bright colors. I do it cause it’s fun and makes me smile.”

His painting/drawing made me smile too .
Robert_Dino

Julia Ember Ricciardi: “Cooking/baking! Because there is always a delicious pay-off in the end!”

Rachel Miller: “Gardening. I love digging in the dirt and being part of the growing process of plants. Plus the added benefits of adding beauty to the outside space and growing your own food.”

Ashley Castle: “Walking through my neighborhood, wine tasting, journaling.”

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 Adam Marland: For me, relaxing can mean a couple things. If I’m drained from a crappy work day or something, the goal is to check out mentally AND physically, and that means comfort food, beer, sweatpants, and movie marathon. If I want to relax physically but be engaged mentally, I just drive somewhere pretty and enjoy; a beach, a scenic overlook, whatever. The drive and getting out is as much the reward as the destination. In contrast, if I need to be engaged physically but not mentally, I find activity therapeutic; basketball if im in the city, but a hike or swimming hole are my favorites.”

Sarah Steeland: “Would have to be surfing for sure” (She even shared one of her awesome doodles to show)!

surfing sarah steenland

R.G.M.: “I love to hike around Turkey Mountain, a local spot with oodles of walking, biking and horse trails … just 3 miles from my house. And my favorite indoor hobby is photo editing. I can play with one pic for hours!”

Grant Ryan: “I have three said hobbies when I want to relax but not be lazy, the first is obvious, running – it might not sound like relaxing but its very zen to me, it clears my mind and eases my stress. No music, no phone, just a pair of sneakers and a road! The second is cooking, I love to create, and i find it artful and soulfully stimulating – it relaxes me in a different way, not so much zen as it is just adult play. Lastly I like to take a glass of red wine, and a new book and let my mind drift to worlds impossible – it might sound lazy, but I find it to be mental excersise and an escape from reality. I can literally go anywhere with the turn of the page. Wine isnt always necessary, but it definaltey relaxes me and it stimulates my creativity for hobby #2.”

Grant Ryan

Bekah Eaton: “Mudding!”

Emelie Samuelson:  “Slacklining, crocheting, or hiking.”

Joe Cicala: “I go to book stores and hang out in the cookbook section. Cooking at home is also relaxing. And at work when I make pasta and when I butcher and cure meat. That’s my zen time. I completely zone out and let my mind wonder.”

Jason Schneider: “I like to play Bass. I learn new songs and feel like I’m being productive/getting better at something, even though I’m just messing around playing music.”

A.M.: “WII Just Dance”

Hannah Brencher: “Is it possible to make gratitude into a hobby? If that be the case then gratitude has been my hobby for a while now. When I want to relax, but not be a lazy bum, I create care packages, and make cards, and just make things for people in my life that matter most to me. I roam the aisles of Target for little gifts or spend the afternoon writing letters “just because.” There is an indescribable feeling that comes from pouring myself onto people I love that never makes me feel lazy but leaves me feeling completely refreshed and relaxed. My hobby is also a remedy.”

PhotoCredTiffanyFarley (15)

Photo Credit: Tiffany Farley

Celeste Headlee: “I have a strong sense of guilt whenever I sit down to watch “Mad Men” or “Downton Abbey” because I can hear my mother’s voice in my head saying incredulously, “Are you just going to sit there?” So, I have a whole host of hobbies that I can do while I’m seated. One of my favorites is needlepoint and cross stitch and I especially love the complicated variety that take months to complete.”

Tammy Tibbetts: “Reading in Central Park, Yoga for Runners class at Jack Rabbit NYC, and watching Mindy Project with my friend Erin to name a few!”

Maitland Ward Baxter: For sure yoga. Pretzeling myself helps me de-stress. #theflexibleshallnotbebentoutofshape

How about you–What are YOUR favorite hobbies to do when you want to RELAX but don’t want to be a lazy bum?

Here’s one of my drawings from when I want to relax–but I don’t want to be a bum…

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My Reaction on the Boston Marathon

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I don’t often write about breaking news on this blog. But after a tragedy like this, it seems hard not to want to reflect. As someone whose hobby before, during, and after the initial hobby year was running–this really got to me.

There are supposed to be fireworks at the end of races like The Boston Marathon–not deadly explosions.

As my coworker read the breaking news to a group of us in the office, I put my head down and continued to write the treatment that I was working on. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be informed–I wasn’t ready to be sad.

Sadness, after tragedy, is often addictive. After Colorado; Newtown; Sandy;  and other large events that have resulted in death, I often find myself refreshing the Twitter stream relentlessly, clicking from news organization to news organization, and texting friends about their thoughts. All I want to do is turn away–but I can’t. So when I finally tuned into what was going on in Boston, an hour after it occurred, my obsession with the story quickly manifested. I wanted answers. I wanted to know who, what, when, where, why, HOW. I wanted to know everything.

And rather than feel sadness, I suddenly found myself feeling angry. This wasn’t an attack on our country, no it couldn’t be. There are over 90 other countries represented in a race like The Boston Marathon. This was senseless–terrifying–and reckless.

As someone who has run a lot of races, my anger too stemmed from the fact that this could have been any race in any city.

On Sunday morning, I ran my first race in nearly 9 months on the JFK runway–a 5k. I even got a few friends to come run it with me–one who hadn’t ran a race before. As we approached the 5k, I told her how excited I was that it was her first–that the community feeling of running a 5k, or any race, is what keeps me coming back.  People are supportive–People feel a sense of community.

And what I love most about running in races is that it’s not a judgmental sport. People of all ages run–people of all run levels run–and people from all over the world run–without being judged. The spectators stand by–cheering, relentless–holding signs that make you laugh as you pass by, giving you high fives, motivating you until you cross the finish line. And unless it’s the Olympics or unless you’re a top runner battling it out for the top time, then no one is cheering against you either. It may not be a team sport but it brings on a team of people who want to see success. It brings people together–if even for a short bit of time. That’s the fun of any sporting event–the community that is drawn in. To see that disrupted, to see our spectators hurt–our runners–our fellow Americans–and even those who travel from near and far to take part in a race that has such magnitude as the Boston Marathon gives me chills and is beyond disheartening.

As more and more information is released, my heart begins to sink more. As I see the photos of the carnage, I am reminded of photos I’ve seen of battle scenes.  People are without legs–three lives have been lost–and hundreds are battling what could be life threatening injuries in multiple hospitals across the city of Boston.

An 8 year old boy lost his life by simply watching a race–a race that perhaps he one day wanted to participate in, or that his family may have been participating in yesterday.

As I try to suppress my anger, I think of what I can do–what we can do in order to support Boston at a time like this.

The answer is to continue loving. To continue loving with all our hearts–showing our neighbor who may not always seem to love us back–so much love that they can’t avoid showing love too.

There is too much good in this world to let the bad rot it out.

To all those with family and friends who ran in the race or who had family and friends watching–my heart goes out to you as you dealt with worry and fear.

And to all those who took the start line yesterday–and who stood by, relentlessly cheering them on to the finish, my heart–my thoughts–and my prayers are with you.

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