What’s Your Burden?

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This past Saturday I took part in Burden Operation Company’s Limit Pusher Event.   This event is intended to be a 12 hour endurance event where you carry weight (men and women different weights) and ruck around the trails doing PT and other activities while being part of a team (yep good run on sentence there).

A bit about the Burden Operation Company from the Leaders and Owners themselves :

Burden Operation Company
The reason we named it that is all of us have a burden be it from family to work, from kids to your past, from a death or guilt.. but not all burdens are bad and not all bad burdens need to weigh you down… instead of letting the weight of the burden we decided to use it as fuel and instead “Honor Burdens by crushing limits “

     My Burden is also my guilt and my fuel alot of people have heard me talk about my buddy ryan. I did not know ryan for very long we meet via spartan street team. He knew me and my ex wife very well. When my divorce struck I was devastated. He kept me training and gives me the “guys / spartan way of thinking ” a few times I thought about taking my life and a few times I tried… dude would show up and pound my door till i opened it..  I looked up to him a lot and his love for life and people around him. The year 2013 my first spartan world championship I had lots of doubt in my heart he called me up to check on my the day before the check on me knowing I was doubting myself. I didn’t feel worthy to be alive never mind even at the championship… He said some spartan aroo aroo aroo told me this is what I work for as I just blamed my failed marriage and life and etc he said loudly and sternly
“Dave shut the fuck up! Look your a good guy your a spartan at heart” then he said the most profound thing to me “You define yourself nothing more nothing less” a few more encouragements then off to the mountians with his girlfriend.
Well after the weekend and being home I get a call from a buddy “Dave. …… ryan is dead… ” you read that right he died.. how? He committed suicide the one thing he kept me from so many times .. how can I not see it in his eyes? Was I that self centered? How, what,  and why was my thoughts… at his funeral services you saw 1st hand the sheer numbers of people he effected.
Do I feel survivors guilt? Why yes I do? Why him and not me? Do I feel guilt I wasn’t able to save him? Again yes I do..
This is my burden this is my weight on my shoulders .. I have chose to keep living in the memory of ryan the things he taught me in the short time I knew him.

Who was Ryan? Ryan was probably 1st person I met that loved spartan race as much as I did he was also the one that taught and showed me what a limit pusher was, introduced me to goruck and got me to sign up with him and I learned I loved rucking!! He loved to have fun and live life, truly loved it and lived it to his fullest, always smiling and always laughing. A true spartan by heart and code not company or brand

At the beginning of the operation, we were given a brick that said “Ruckin for Ryan”.   Ryan was a dear friend of David, who David worked out with and looked up to in many ways.   We got asked to write the burden that we live with everyday.    A burden that sits heavy on our shoulders with every day we live.   Mine was “Living with a disease that doesn’t have a cure and tries to kill me everyday”.  Lupus lives with me everyday, I currently have it in control but it still is there I don’t know when its going to rear is ugly head.   I don’t know when I am going to have to deal with it.   It does sit heavy on my shoulders.  However, people in the group also dealt with many other things that were much worse than what I deal with daily.   They had real life problems that burdened them EVERY day of their lives.

A little background is needed on this operation.   I did this operation last year, I am sure I can go back and find the post, but it was terrible.  I lost the weight out of my ruck within a mile of starting. ONE MILE , I physically was unable to walk up the very first hill, my body was screaming at me for even attempting something like this.   I live in pain on  most days and I try to play it off and ignore it.   Why? Because I don’t need the sympathy.  I don’t need to hear it from people, but good friends know when its true.   David saw that and pulled my weight.   That weighed heavy on me that everyone else was able to keep their weight and I had to give mine up.   Needless to say and here this post is not about last year but to just highlight what happened last year.  Also the mental state I was in going into this year’s event considering what happened last year. Link to last year’s post (http://lupuscombat.com/?p=186)

This year I wanted it to be different, I didn’t want to fail.   I didn’t want a repeat of last year.  I didn’t want to not be able to complete the task at hand.  As we started all of this weighed on me.   I am always thinking about how I am going to do, if I am not going to be able to complete the tasks that we are challenged with everyday.  I am my worst critic.  I am my own worst enemy when it comes to tasks like this.

As we met up with everyone in the parking lot, some of us knew each other some of us however didn’t.   They were race buddies, but we may not have actually known each other that well.  This event proved to change that.   It would pull us closer than any of us every probably thought at the beginning.    There were 9 of us total: Josh, Wade, Paul, Ralph, Bryan, Jack, Jessica, and Alicia.  These people over the next 12 hours would become some of the closest friends I can count on.    These events are unlike other races, you must work together to achieve a goal.  You must work together and come together as a team.  And come together as a team we did. 🙂

We started with PT in the parking lot.   Exercises that was each of our favorites.   We were supposed to have 15 people come to the event.    So the number of the moves was 15.  We did sit ups, flutter kicks, squats, jumping jacks, push ups, etc.   This was while we were waiting for one more team member to show up since he was late.  Upon his arrival we had to do a burpee for every ten minutes that he was late.   So we did burpees as a team.  The reason not only one person was punished was because we are a team, not individuals.   There is no I in team……..

A few laps in the parking lot and then we were off on the trail.  I was nervous to say the least.   I didn’t know what my body would do.   I didn’t know what the day would hold.  We started off on the trail, trudging along, me taking puffs of my inhaler because breathing seemed to be slightly difficult at the beginning.   Once I get going I am ok, so I was a little slower at the beginning then the rest but I would find my grove.   Along the trail we had to stay within arms reach of each other, if not we would have to carry that person.     I was pulled back by Laura, and Josh kept asking back if I was ok, and she would make a noise as if it was me.  They figured out it wasn’t me and the whole team had to come back and pick me up.   So someone on the team had to carry my ruck and had to carry me.   This is harder than it appeared because you are using your arms to hold on for dear life, since I have the worlds shortest legs, I could lock my ankles while being piggy back carried.

Finally we were able to put people down, and we continued on.   We reached the bridge that I intimately remember, because the hill that about killed me was around the corner.  The hill that I cried on last year because my legs hurt so much, the hill on which David took my weight from me.  This year however I had my ruck which was close to 40 lbs and then had strapped two gallons of water on each side.  And I made it up the hill without a problem, without pain.  I wanted to jump and down with joy.   That hill was a huge accomplishment.   Many may not understand the impact of making it up a hill, but for me it was huge.    We continued on, and at points had to carry another individual, so I carried another ruck.   I was able to do this several times, hell I even volunteered.   I would have never been able to physically do that last year.  I could barely carry an empty back pack let alone two weighted rucks.

We started working together as a team after the first few failed time hacks.  Everyone had their place on the team and we all worked together as a team to make our goals.

Water oh how I love the water, cold or not I love water.  We encountered our first water experience.  We were required to do burpees in the water (another favorite) while some did squats.   It was awesome.

The first real group challenge we had was a group push-up.   the person in front put their shoulders on the person behind them’s shoulders and so on and so forth.  As a group we had to do a push up.  This was a hell of a lot harder than it first seemed.   And after multiple attempts and rearranging we were unable to get a push up in.

We had to continue on the trail and had fifteen minutes to make it to the picnic area.  My other favorite water spot.   This is where I first fell in love with water burpees last year.   The first task at hand was making it up the river to a stick and turning back around and making it back to where we started.

After this we were required to go into the water again to do some river Yoga.  The best kind of Yoga! Nothing like stretching out in the river and getting our muscles and icy chill.  After the nice little splash in the water we need to do full submersion water burpees (WOOT WOOT).   The burpees didn’t count if the head didn’t go under.  So we did have a few no reps but we all got the hang of it and were able to knock out the burpees, despite making a few people uncomfortable.   But that is the point of the operation, you have to push into that uncomfortable zone to see what you are really capable of.  As weird as it may seem I requested to do 5 burpees in a row on my own (full submersion).   And I loved every minute of it.

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At that point we were able to get out of the water and required to memorize a poem.  At that point each of us were required to memorize this poem and recite it.    All of us were able to successfully complete this task.

Back in the water!!!! Flutter kicks my favorite.   I feel sorry for anyone that sits next to me, because my intention when I flutter kick is to splash as much as humanly possible, including myself.   This was an awesome one, there are some great pictures, and apparently had both operators David and Laura, laughing till they cried.  Hey I do what I can 🙂

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all you see is my pink sock and blue shoe 🙂11920385_10206352635085964_2089254218_n

splashing myself 😉11949516_10206352635445973_951011951_n

After that back to warming up.

Ralph was the man that carried everyone, if we had an “injury”, he was the first to step up, it was one of these occasions that I had the honor of wearing his ruck.  Let me tell you it wasn’t light.  I had to guide Jessica through some rocky trail, because she lost the privilege of her vision for this specific section.   So while carrying Ralph’s ruck and guiding Jessica we made our way back to the bridge we had crossed and had a toll in order to  cross.  We had to do a group crab walk.  This is harder than it seems.   But for the girls who could barely get there arms on the ground, the boys basically just picked us up and lifted us out.   On the last push when I was on the back of the train i kind of went flying because Wade who was behind me had stood up and I wasn’t quite ready for it.   🙂 It’s all good all part of the operation.

Back to the location where we first entered the water.  We had to play a game “Mother may I” using three movements, of our choosing and Laura’s approval to get to a specific movement on the trail.  The first one there would get to pick the movement they do.  We were all going through movements and getting close.  I intentionally was holding off on burpee broad jumps until we got closer I knew within a distance I could get three and make a fair amount of distance.   Sure enough the last time that I got to go I used my burpee broad jumps and made it across.  I however didn’t chose the weight that David would have to carry, as a team we did.  Josh’s ruck would be carried by David and we got his, which was significantly lighter.  Next, three of the men had to go out and find a log that David and Laura found suitable for us to carry.    The first log was found in appropriate.   So while they were out on the search the rest of us did PT.    One of the PT movements was dead lifting that original log with all the rucks attached to it, totaling close to 250 lbs.    As a group we lifted the weight.  Then it was the girls turn to deadlift it, us three girls were able to lift it without a single problem.  The boys did the same.   Then david wanted us to bench press it.   The boys went first, the girls were allowed to help and guide on the first rep, then they were on their own for I believe two reps.   Then the girls turn.   Bench pressing that much weight is not easy by any means.   The three of us did it though, even without the men helping.

BENCH PRESS!!11950768_10206352633165916_728623608_n 11911624_10206352632765906_2112047414_n

The boys finally came back with an appropriate log.   However the PT group was just getting ready to do the crossfit work “Diane” with our rucks.   30 thrusters for time.   This happens to be one of my favorite movements in crossfit.   I was able to complete mine and then help out fellow team mates make it through the rest of theirs.   This was probably physically demanding simply because of the movement.  That movement is not easy by any means, and I have to call out Alicia who thrusted the men’s weight and did in under 4 minutes.    She is a little ball of dynamite and never gives up!! Great job !!

Back on the trail with the heavy log.   I volunteered to carry two rucks as we made it back to the location where we had just left.    Which was the picnic area.   We were required to keep our log and take it with us.   I helped out as much as could with the log but one of the things that I need to work on is grip strength.  I have been struggling with the muscles in my forearms and hands spasming uncontrollably.  I don’t know why they are doing this, and probably need to have that looked at.   So as soon as I helped and held on for awhile I couldn’t anymore.  We finally got to a steeper section of the trail.  You could tell in everyone’s looks on their faces that we were worn down, that physically we were all exhausted.  We had done a lot throughout the day.   David and Laura gave us the option to do a workout or to keep carrying the log.   We chose to do the workout instead of caring that beast of a log.   The ladder workout with lunges, pushups, and situps is what we started with.  However as we hit the second rung of the ladder, David gave us the option to do 30 8-count body builders.    As individuals we did the body builders, and then were able to help out our teammates complete theirs.  This was one of the best times that we worked as a group to finish a task.

We were on the final stretch and almost to the start point.  After a few minutes as we were nearing the finish, we were asked to pull the brick with our burden on it.  We were reminded that we had been carrying that burden all day.   I couldn’t help but start sobbing.  I had done something that one year ago I was not able to do.   I was not able to carry weight at all last year.  To think about the accomplishments I have made are astounding to me.   I was happy to see what Crossfit has done for me and that I am able to do these things now without hurting.

We walked in silence for a good section of trail.  Laura asked that each of us carry the team weight one last time.  This had to be done for me, I had to carry that, I had to prove to myself, not another living soul that I was able to do this.  During that carry, tears flowed again, because 4 years ago as well I couldn’t walk most days.   I couldn’t get out of bed.   I was in a really really bad place.  Fast forward to this weekend and I was able to carry heavy things.  We all carried the weight one final time.

As we reached the parking lot, we were all proud of the fact we had finally made it.  We were done, but we had one last task.   We needed to do burpees for each of our teammates.  At this point we could share our burden and what we had been carrying around with us all day long.   This was something I struggle with sharing at times still, I am criticized by some, none of our group that day, but others that believe I am just craving intention.  No my disease is real, I live with it every day.   We went around and shared our burdens with the group.  This was an emotional time for all of us.  There are many in the group that carry a lot of weight on their shoulders and are smiling every day, putting on a show that everything is ok.  I am not going to call out any of the group those are their burdens, I just happen to share mine every day.   But to each of my fellow burden teammates, I am so damned proud of each and every single one of you.  You accomplished a lot on Saturday. You over came fears, you conquered goals, we all laughed, we cried, and we succeeded in completing this goal.   You have the right to be proud and raise your head high because of what was accomplished.  I am thankful for each and every one of you that day.

Comparing this to last year, this year did have its harder aspects, I am not sure if it had anything to do with the mental state I was in last year, or if it was everything in general.  We carried a log that was a lot easier to carry than last year.   The PT seemed harder this year but I was able to do it, we didn’t have as much PT last year, or I completely blocked that from my mind.

I have done several of Burden Operation Company’s endurance outings.  This is truly the hardest one they have.  This one was not only physically demanding but mentally as well.  This one holds a special place in my heart and always will, I will be back for more trust me.

Well the story doesn’t end here, sorry this is a long one.   The next things up was we had to go to Boulder High School in order to do the Grind PT test.   I was pushing myself beyond anything I have ever done before.   The next thing harder than this was running a trifecta in a weekend, the previous weekend from this.   So apparently I am trying to run myself to the ground.

Several of us showed up to attempt the Grind PT Test, this would allow you to do the grind and be able to continue for the evening.  The ones that showed up for the testing were Alicia, Ralph, Jack, Paul, and myself.  We were all crazy enough to keep going.   This would be the first time that I have done this and to say I am nervous is putting it lightly.

The test for the Grind is as follows:

2:00 minute push-up test  m-40 F- 30

2:00 minute sit up test f-40 m-50

5 min burpee test – 60

15 min 1.5 mile unweighted run

40 min rucking 5k males
45 min rucking 5k females

Bear-ly Breathing 35 min time cap
3 rounds
10x front rack squat w/ruck
50m Bear crawl
15x curls w/ruck
50m Bear crawl
20x Burpees
50m Bear crawl

50m = 164 feet or 82 feet down and back

On a football field it’s 20 yards

I could tell that my body was feeling the effects of the day’s activities.  I didn’t want to tell anyone that my right leg hurt a lot or that I couldn’t get my right arm to stop shaking.  I was holding my arm close to me so no one would see it.   I didn’t want anyone to know what my body was doing.

So we started the PT Test.  Burpees up first.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love burpees however, doing burpees after a 12 hour day isn’t as easy.  But I was able to finish the burpees with a few seconds to spare. PHew one down a few more to go.

Pushups were next and my arm shaking was a problem.   The pain in my lower arm was bad, it hurt.   I knew I was going slower than the rest of the group and was petrified of failing.  I hate being a failure and not completing what I put my eyes on.   I finished the pushups barely I knocked out the last 5 as fast as I could.

Next up situps.  I can do situps, thank you crossfit.  We do a lot of them butterfly style so I am able to knock them out without a problem.

Running was up and I knew the leg was hurting.   I knew this was going to be a struggle.   I knew this was going to hurt.  6 laps around the track is what we had to do, this is where I struggled to stay out of my own head.   After two laps I was going to quit.  My leg was fighting me, I was struggling to tell if it was from the lupus or an injury.   I am usually decent at figuring out the difference.   I pushed on after lap two and kept going.  I found my rhythm and didn’t stop to walk after that.    I pushed, I got lapped by everyone, which was for me discouraging.  Its hard for me to explain how much it hurts for me to be lapped, I know I am not an elite athelete by any means, but I give it my all.  I am slow I know this but discouraging that I wasn’t keeping up.   I finished that 1.5 miles in 14:55, sprinting the last section faster than I ever have before.

Next up the ruck.   My leg was hurting and both David and Laura know that it was.   I kept pushing though I was moving slow and the leg was hurting more and more.   I made it four laps before them pulled me off the track and said I needed to stop so I didn’t get hurt.   I cried, I failed.  I didn’t finish something that I wanted to finish. This was hard for me, I immediately broke down, I couldn’t handle this.  I couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to finish.  I felt like a failure, I know everyone is going to tell me I wasn’t but in my eyes I was.   It was hard and almost shameful to not be able to continue on.   I was willing to take the two brick penalty and continue on.  But after doing a few laps with the ruck I wasn’t even able to bear crawl, without excruciating pain in my leg.   I had to be smart I had to stop.  I didn’t complete the first Grind Ops that I have ever tried.  This was hard for me.  I needed to do this, but couldn’t.  I wished the guys good luck, both Paul and Ralph had finished the ruck and knew they were on track to making it to the grind.

On the way home I got to think a lot.   A lot about the day and what I had done.   As hard as it is for me, I was able to achieve things I didn’t achieve last year.  I was able to help others achieve things as well.  I went from being the weakest operation member to being one of the team again and no one having to carry my weight.  So as hard as it was despite not completing the PT test I am ok with it now.

Congratulations to the Grind Operations Completers.   You guys killed it last night and probably did a lot of things you never thought you would.   Ralph, Josh, Jack, and Paul congratulations on finishing and completing one hell of a task.  Watch out I am going to make sure I finish the PT test next event.  I will come back and will eventually get this.

So to end, what is your burden?  Does it hold you back?  Does it push you to keep going?  Does it weigh so heavily you cave to its weight?  Whatever your burden is, remember you aren’t not alone in this battle, you have a team behind you.  You may not have known this person to begin with but in the end you will have people who have your back and are willing to help you through the struggle.   This is why I love Burden Operation’s Events, you make friends that you never once thought that would be your friend.


One word that means the World to me………

Fighting a disease that has no cure, no matter what it may be, means that you don’t know what the future holds.  You can only live life to the fullest and fight for everything you have.

That’s what I have been doing for 9 years now.  The first few were rough.  I didn’t want to fight, I didn’t want to care.   I went to a very dark place when I was in college, working three jobs and a full time engineering student.  So sick that I could barely stay awake some days.   It was a bad time for me.  I felt like I did something to make this happen, that it was my fault.   I would end up in the hospital and the doctors and nurses knew me by my first name, that’s how I lived the first 5 years of my life after being diagnosed with lupus and RA.   First name basis with the medical staff at a hospital because I was there almost weekly for one thing or another.  I lost all my hair, what many don’t know is I wore a wig in college.   I had to, because of the disease and the toxic medicine I had no hair.  Talk about another blow to the ego.   College students drink to have fun, I drank to make the pain go away.   I wouldn’t hurt and that was a relief for me.

Fast forward to where I am today.   I don’t have to drink to hide the pain because there is little to no pain everyday, some worse than others.   I am healthy,  word that I never thought I would say to describe myself.  I am active, maybe sometimes too active but I am active.  I get out and go all the time.   I love to race and push myself to see what I am capable of.

The ONE word that I never thought my doctor would tell me, even though I keep my head up and try to keep going everyday is REMISSION.

A simple word that is defined as:

  1. a temporary or permanent decrease or subsidence of manifestations of a disease.

A word that to many doesn’t mean very much to many people.  A word that unless you have a chronic illness means nothing.  But to someone with a chronic illness, that word is like a million pounds lifted off your shoulders.

I finally heard that word from my doctor yesterday, I do realize that my disease can become active at any point in time, but I am sure as hell going to fight with everything I have to make that not happen.   I know it’s still there.  But that one word is better than any of the accomplishments I have made, that one word proves that eating right and exercise can help you lead a better life.

Short and simple post…..the operation post from last weekend should be available early Saturday, I got permission to post 4 am ish.    And then will  be another post because I will go back at it again this weekend!!

 


Are you A Lion or a Sheep??

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I find it interesting that so many people now when faced with a challenge back down and give in.  Believing that they can’t do it.   That they aren’t good enough.   That they are capable of controlling their own lives and let the challenges that they are faced with will control them.

One of the most attractive qualities of all of us as human beings is when your true character shines through because you stood up to the challenge and conquered it.  Many people do this but are afraid to be proud because they were faced with the challenge in the first place.  However, confidence is one of the most important aspects you can have as a human.

We all are handed challenges in life, I am not talking about races or endurance activities.  I am talking about your normal daily life challenges.   It could be that one co worker that you struggle to get a long with.  It could be getting out of bed and even going to work in the morning.  However, you face that challenge because you need to triumph over it.  You could have a bad relationship with anyone, however you need to put a smile on your face and continue on.  You need to triumph.

head-on-challenge-point

Challenges make us stronger human beings, even though you may not see it at the time.   I believe in God, and that he has handed me EVERY SINGLE one of the challenges in my life for a reason.  There is a reason behind everything that has happened to me no matter if it was for the good or the bad.

I know we all get down on life every once in awhile, but you need to rise up above the challenge handed to you.    You need to keep going, because life isn’t easy.  Face it head up and shoulders back showing that yes you can.

As this weekend approaches, face your challenge, no matter what it may be, face it.  Don’t give in, don’t give up.   Push beyond what you thought was a limit, because in my mind there are no limits, just new accomplishments to be had.

Lions go out and fight for their day.   Sheep hide and are easily chased away.  This weekend be that lion, go out and fight for what you deserve.

No matter what your challenge may be this weekend, no matter what it is.  Face it and stand up for it.

 

 

 


A Weekend Trifecta….oh wait….in Hawaii

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Let’s begin with the fact that I was getting to do something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do or be physically able to do.   It’s hard to believe the distance I have come on my athletic journey to be where I was standing this weekend.

 

Nerves and nerves and nerves are what reigned Saturday morning. I couldn’t believe that I had made the decision to run in an Elite heat.   Why would I do such a thing? Was I in my right mind when I decided to sign up for elite rather than running the opens like I always do. Stick in my comfort zone where I am truly not pushed to my limits.   Where its comfy and not testing in any way.

 

I think for once in my life, I made a decision on a whim and decided to run elite. Ironic considering where I was a year ago when I completed my first trifecta.   Any way back to Saturday morning. I was so nervous, I was sick to my stomach and was almost like I was living a dream, or a nightmare, hadn’t quite decided which one just yet.   Carrie traveled to Hawaii with me for the races, we decided for the Sprint we would run our own race. Do what we do.   Starting out I ran, I run a lot, and wait I was at sea level so it was even better!   I struggled on some of the up hills, let me make a mental note that I need to work on those more. Damn hills. I felt amazing though. Nothing hurt, nothing physically caused me to struggle. That meant it was going to be a good weekend. I didn’t have to feel pain in my leg or any other part of my body.   I pushed myself. I have two advantages going into this race. 1) I love burpees 2) I am running at sea level Played on these advantages and went with it. I pushed and kept going, I actually passed a few girls and was actually thinking to myself that I could be decently placed.   I did the Z Wall by myself!!! Holy crap, I have never once done that wall by myself.   I always had someone to help me.   Always! But this time I didn’t have that someone, I was all alone and needed to see what I could do.   I tried the rope climb and failed but knocked out my burpees like a pro.   Missed the spear throw and did some more burpees.   Almost made it to the rig but slipped on the last bar and barely missed the bell. Did 30 more burpees. Crossed the finish line not even considering that I just had ran the best race of my life.   That I hadn’t just completed something I didn’t even think could.   I was waiting for Carrie to finish so we could take off and run the Super. In the meantime I decided to see how I did placement wise.   Well Holy moly guacamole, I was top 15.   I had to ask the volunteer working the timing station if she was sure that was right.   Who would have thought a girl with lupus, that could barely walk 4 years ago was doing that well on an elite wave!  I am still in astonishment, I didn’t break down in tears until I saw Carrie and told her how I did. That’s when I realized and it hit me hard.   That’s when I accepted what I had done.

 

I didn’t have time to be mushy, we had to get out on the Super course and finish another piece of the trifecta.   We had to get there.   The super course was gorgeous, we saw people zip lining and touring the area since the area is a very big tourist attraction.   The ironic part was that the tourist were taking pictures of us racing.   They had to be thinking what are all these crazy people doing ??? They are definitely not normal, no we aren’t, we are badasses.   Anyway, the super course marched on.   An interesting thing about this race was how rude some of the people were being to their fellow racers.   Yes, we weren’t moving fast, and were encouraging all those racing, saying good job, etc.   So many people just pushed past us and weren’t being nice about it all. Following simple trail etiquite and saying on your left or right when passing. I think that was one of the harder parts of the race.   How can a fellow racer be so rude and not care about the fact that not everyone moves fast or as I kept telling racers who were doing this that “I broke my rearview mirror” can you let me know that you are going to pass me? I know Utah last year was bad in terms of rude racers however this one was much worse. The volunteers didn’t know what they were doing and Carrie and I ended up having to explain to racers how to the obstacle. For example, on the tire DRAG, they were standing in the middle of the tire and carrying it. For the bucket carry they were carrying it on their shoulders.   All incorrect and the bucket carry dangerous and risking injury.

I even ended up emailing them stating that racers were going to get hurt if they didn’t change what they were doing, it didn’t get better on Sunday.

 

We finished the Super and felt like we had ran two races. Go figure we just had.   Carrie had her ankle looked at because she rolled her ankle on one of the walls.   They taped up her ankle and we were off to the hotel to shower….seriously that jungle mud and water smells so bad.   I can still smell it was I am sitting on this airplane on the way home. Kind of nasty. Not sure I want to open my suit case and the Ziploc bags that are in there with my race clothes….its going to be bad…..pass out from the smell bad.

 

Sunday was another race day, the beast. We had talked to some fellow racers about what the beast course was like. We heard mud lots of mud and lots of jungle.   Little did we know what we would be in store for. Norm had cut this part of the trail up the side of the mountain through the jungle.   Jungle mud is slick and sticky and did I mention that it smells? Terribly smells.   So we started on the split up the beast course.   It was going to be brutal you were going straight up in slick mud, it was up to my knees at points. Yes I am well aware that I am short but that’s a lot of mud!   The humidity was taking it toll and my sweat was sweating, I drank 6 liters of water on that course that day.   That’s a lot of water intake on a course but we were sweating so much it was necessary to stay hydrated and not risk injury.   The never ending hill just kept going and going. There was a lot of cussing by everyone and lots of unhappy racers. Why would you cut a course of a jungle mountain, oh it will be fun they said.   I am short and was clocking my head on branches so I can only imagine the taller people. It seriously took about forever to climb the hill, covered in mud and sweating we reached the top of mud hell(not a typo 😉 ) but looking at my watch I knew we still had about 7 miles of racing left.   Through the jungle and the side of the mountain.

 

There were many people struggling and hurting. It was a brutal course in its own sense.

 

Trudging along we did get to see some spectacular views. The view of the ocean and surrounding area from the top of the mountain was stunning and literally took your breath away. I know I was having my ass handed to me on the course however, it was beautiful.   And I am thankful for the experience I was able to have on the course.

 

It was a gorgeous day and I stayed up beat to help Carrie make it through the course. Her ankle was hurting quite a bit and her quad as well. I wouldn’t let her quit because I knew she would be able to do it. She is an amazing indidivual and I had a blast racing with her this weekend.   I don’t care that we went slow, I cherish the fact that we had a great time, even if she wanted to quit and kill that course.   We trudged through river for over a mile, but then came upon the area where they filmed part of Jurassic Park. That was awesome and we took pictures there too.   Ironically that area is a high tour area so there were people on buses and ATVs touring the grounds. Well I don’t know if they thought we were crazy or part of the attraction of the area, but they were taking pictures of us.

 

When we finally reached the exchange point that started the beast course we knew we were close to the finish. About two miles to go and then a medal. And non muddy clothes ( more on that in a minute).   The last two miles were great we started making good progress, chatting with the Aussies that were there racing and had a great time. Lots of pictures were taken and if other racers wanted to judge me then so be it. I was out there to enjoy the course for the second to races.

 

One of the best parts of the race was the fact that people recognized COR on the course.   They knew who we were and knew us to be the group that always helped racers no matter what. People thanked us for helping us at previous races and being a team that was there for everyone.   That alone being part of COR is amazing.

 

We got to the spear throw and Bryce was there cheering us on. A good guy who on a whim decided to run the Ultra Beast course.   And finished fourth might I add. Congrats Bryce you did great out there!! You also gave me a bite of your burrito when I was kind of kidding but not really.

 

Rig then slip wall. Jumping the fire on this course was rewarding it was a brutal course but we didn’t let the course win. We finished.   However disappointment would be at the finish line when they didn’t even have a medal for us of the right one. The staff members at the tent were not very nice about it and said we may not get it, until we made them ask that we would get the correct medal for finishing the beast, not a sprint medal.   I know frustrations were there but staff members need to put themselves in the racers shoes, we raced our hearts out and to not get the medal we earned was going to be very upsetting. The situation however is corrected and we will be getting the medals mailed to us.

 

Overall this weekend was fantastic. Got to go to a luau, got fresh sushi, and amazing Hawaiian cooking.   Dinner after the beast included a 15 oz steak and a 1lb baked potato, yes I ate it all.   I was starving after running as much as we had. Also can’t forget the one or two glasses of wine 😉

 

Overall I can honestly say I am proud of myself. I completed three trifectas this year so far.   I will see what else the season has in store for me, but I am proud of what I have achieved.

 

To some this may not seem like a big accomplishment, that its nothing to be proud of. But for me it is. This is huge no matter what everyone else believes.   I have come down a long journey, I have been knocked down and got back up. God has handed me challenges that I never thought I would over come but I did.   I want to help prove to the rest of the world that just because you are diagnosed as chronically ill doesn’t mean that you can’t do what you want.   Or even what you didn’t know that you wanted.   It’s amazing when you finally realize that you as a human being don’t have limitations. They don’t exist.   They are not there and you don’t have to prove that the limit can be broken when it’s not there. After the airing of the Breckenridge show, it was amazing the out pouring of people who say the fact that I was able to achieve these races inspires them.
Having a co worker tell me his daughters are excited about racing and even started doing burpees during the show, makes me cry. Out of pure joy and excitement. I had him tell his daughters that I would race with them, and their eyes lit up.   Having a great friend that I do cross fit with say she is willing to give racing a try next year, makes every race worth it!

 

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Wisdom From the Airplane…….

As I sit in this airplane realizing what I am about to go do this weekend I am in awe in the opportunities that God has presented to me. Last weekend I ran an ultra Ragnar, completing close to 40 miles in a 36 hour time frame.   For me that is a lot of miles, and was definitely hard on my body and the lupus.   But yet, here I am, flying to go and run three races.

I have determined my goal in life is to push myself and determine what I am truly capable of. This year has been a pleathora of trials and failures with some successes.   I believe that my DNI on a 50k truly was the most valuable lesson I could learn.   I have never given up or failed at something racing related that I have put my mind to and yet that day, I just couldn’t.   I knew I had to stop and for me making that singular decision to stop and prevent injury was the hardest decision of my life.

The months following that DNI, I learned more about myself than I have learned in my previous three years of racing. I was able to learn that I do have limits, I don’t always pay attention to them but I do have them.

I was able to continue on and go race in Breckenridge.   Breckenridge was a special event for me, because I had been chosen by Spartan to share my story. Imagine that, being chosen from thousands of people in order to share a story. I know its small in comparison to many other stories out there.   However I felt it needed to be done.   I was able to race with some amazing women: Rachel, Chris, Sam, Carrie, Lacey, and Jodie.   This experience racing with other women who had over come so many different obstacles in their life was one of the best races I have ever ran.   We were able to make it through a tough course at elevation and cross that finish line as a team.   For me the most profound moment of the race was helping Rachel, who wasn’t sure she was going to be able to finish the race. We encouraged and pushed her to finish. Seeing her face as we crossed the finish line was worth everything that day.   She had accomplished something she didn’t even think she could have done.   And that my friends is one of the things racing is truly about. No I didn’t get to run the beast course and get the medal I wanted however, that didn’t matter as we crossed the finish line. It didn’t matter one bit. I am so proud of Rachel and what she accomplished on that day.   And honored to be able to be racing with her in September in Snowmass again for Tough Mudder, we may have converted another person to love racing as much as I do.

Following Breckenridge I headed to Utah to finish up my double trifecta. It was a perfect setting to get my double trifecta since last year that is where I got my very first trifecta. Completing a double at that venue was what truly would put a cherry on the top of the racing season.   Last year Utah about killed me.   I hurt, and to explain that is hard for me to put into words. Yes, I am active and able to do a lot of things. However, somedays I just can’t I physically can’t go somedays and for someone like me that is beyond hard to accept. I cried and I struggle through the course last year. It took me close to 8 hours to finish a beast course, 12 miles.   I hurt, I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. I pushed myself through the pain I was experiencing to cross the finish line. And I crossed that finish line and broke into tears. I will never forget the volunteer that gave me a hug, I was covered in mud and crying and she said you need a hug. I will never forget that hug. Fast forward to this year and Utah.

I knew it was going to be a toasty race as the temperatures were slowly climbing from when we started racing.   I raced Utah with a good friend of mine, Heather.   We maintained a steady pace.   And surprisingly after the first hill climb that probably took me eternity last year, I powered through it like it was nothing without stopping. I was stopping every few feet last year.   That hill at the very beginning of the race was an accomplishment.   We continued the race and I didn’t hurt. I had a good day.   We finished that course in a little over two hours, granted this year was a super, however, that was still a significant difference in what the time was the previous year.   I was proud to cross the finish line this year. I was happy to be getting my medal and my second trifecta, with a smile on face and not in pain.

After Utah, I did what I usually don’t do I took a break. Something I never do to be honest. But it was time and I needed that break in order to be able to finish out the race season. The month off I stayed busy working out but didn’t race or do much more than that. My body appreciated the fact that I gave myself a break, I learned that it is good to take a break every once in awhile.

First weekend in August, I thought it would be a great idea to sign up for a Ragnar Ultra.   You know going out and running close to 40 miles in a weekend. That is something I have never done. I think the max amount of miles I was able to complete was 20 or so. So double what I have ever done. This was going to be a challenge.   As I mentioned previously, I love racing but sometimes my body does not. As I started my very first leg, I realized the body was not happy with what I was doing, mental or whatever it may be, I was hurting.   And I knew it was going to be a really long 40 miles at this pace. I didn’t want my team to know I was hurting and was trying to hide the limp I knew I had because my right hip hurt so damn much.   I think I did a decent job of pretending like I was ok, but that’s up for my teammates to decide. I continued on. I cried because I knew in the middle of the night, it be exhaustion or the realization, that I was going slow and hurting the team on time.   I felt terrible for not bringing my A game and being sub par in the running world. I am my hardest critic I am aware of this, and I think this race was one of those that made me realize how hard I really am on myself. It happens. I got down to my last 10 mile leg, I let my team know that I was going to be slower than a turtle trudging through peanut butter with a horse on its back.   A fellow teammate, Jeff, stepped up to run the leg with me. You se he had already ran 38 miles, but was willing to make sure I finished and ran the last miles with me. Ran is a very lose term. I started being able to run, but every time I ran my leg went numb. My hip hurt so bad. It was excruciating. So decided power hiking was probably the way to go.   So power hiked we did the rest of the miles. I ran the last little bit, I honestly don’t know how far I was able to run, but knew the pain was sitting there screaming at me for pushing myself for the last little bit. With the help and encouragement of Jeff I finished that last ten miles. There is one photo that captures truly how I felt I am basically falling over giving the slap bracelet to my best friend.   The hug she gave me was another thing that I will never forget. As a team we may not have been the fastest.   We didn’t win. However, as a team we had a blast and finished. And to me that matters more than any first place finish.

And here I sit today, on a plane, going to race another weekend.   I have so many thoughts running through my head as to how crazy I really am to be traveling to go run three races in a weekend. Who am I kidding, I have been doing this all summer.   This was my summer. However I think this one is a little bit different.   I never thought after completing my first trifecta last summer, that I would ever do it again. I would never go out and push myself like that again. I had figured I was done. However, this weekend will be trifecta number three.   Three!! I realize that I am not going to win, hell I am never going to win a race or be on a podium. And that I am ok with! I am out there to run for my little buddies Noah, Jman, and Letty. And race for lupus awareness.   We need to find a cure, or medicines that aren’t so harsh on the human body.   A solution to diseases like lupus that are killing people every day.   That making people not able to get out of bed in the morning.

I was once there, and will never ever go back. I will not go back to the woman I once was.   I want to prove, and I know I have, that lupus doesn’t have me. But I am not going to stop proving this.   I need to continue proving this until I can no longer do that.

So this weekend, I race.   I will race elite heat for the Sprint…..not sure why in the hell I decided to this.   But I will race, I will take lots of pictures, because let’s be honest its Hawaii. I am not going to be setting any PR’s or striving to beat anything or anyone.

Its real I am almost landed in Hawaii and will be racing, well holy crap.

 


Hardest Thing Ever

This past weekend I made the decision to run an Ultra Ragnar with some fellow friends.   Six of us, Jeff, Laura, Carrie, Josh, and Randy, stuffed ourselves into a vehicle to run 200 miles as a team.  Seems like a wonderful idea at the time.   Little did I know that I would be pushing myself to the limit.

I have never in my life ran 40 miles in a weekend. EVER.  This was going to be a true testament of me and my physical capabilites.  I was questioning whether I should have even done this.  I am not designed to run fast, and as time progresses I get slower and slower.

My first leg was a killer a loop around Dillion resivior with a lovely hill climb in the first two miles.  As the running started I was fine, but as I started doing the hills, I knew it was one of those days in which my body was angry.  I wanted to cry.   I can’t control the days my body won’t work or things hurt for no reason.  I didn’t want to let me team down because I failed at what I signed up to do.

I cried while running up the hill, because I knew I was going to be slower than I planned and for me that was a big disappointment to myself.   I wanted to go faster and knew on a good day I could.   But my body says not today sister not today.

I was slower than planned on that leg and reality set in that its going to be a long race.

I had fantastic team mates, that we all agreed that our pace wasn’t the reason we were here.  We were here because we wanted to try and push ourselves to the limit and not try over doing it.   I am thankful for them and cannot tell them enough.

As the race progressed and we all finished legs, the mileage started racking up.  My body started becoming more and more angry.  My hip hurt so much and I didn’t want anyone to notice or know that I was hurting.  I couldn’t let them down.   I chose to run the most miles, and wanted to stick to that no matter how much it hurt.

It’s an internal struggle for me, I hold myself to such high standards, that not acheiving what I wanted to isn’t easy.  I wanted to have a faster pace, but just couldn’t do it, no matter how hard I was pushing myself.

So the legs I ran were slower than planned.

My last leg was 10.5 miles progressively uphill towards the entrance to Snowmass.   I knew I was going to be worried about this one and it was going to be painful to say the least.  I didn’t want to show my weakness in pain but I am fairly certain my teammates noticed me limping.  I didn’t want to call attention to the fact I was scared I couldn’t do the last ten miles.   One of my teammates Jeff volunteered to run/walk the last leg with me to make sure I finished and I think distract me from that pain.   And I honestly have to say it helped.   I kept going despite the pain, and the desire to just sit down.   He helped get me to that exchange point and for that I am forever thankful.

My team was amazing, we laughed until we cried.  We watched a pizza, banana, superman, a unicorn, and a t-rex run.  And hell we were on an ultra team and still having fun.

This was a memorable experience to say the least.

I reached the exchange where my banana, Laura, was waiting for me.   Seeing them I was able to run the last little bit and finish the hardest race I have ever attempted in my life.   I finished.  I almost collapsed upon finishing my legs were so done.

After I finished I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this again, but now I do.  i want to do better I don’t want to let my team mates down because I ran slower than planned.

I want to push myself harder again so that I can achieve things my doctors told me I couldn’t.

This next weekend I will be traveling to Hawaii to run a trifecta in a weekend.  This will be another challenge to my body to prove that I can do it.  To achieve my third trifecta of the year.

This next weekend will be another challenge and will have more to write about and lots of pictures!!! Until next time!

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What’s your Why?

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Recently I have noticed on my facebook feed that many are always trying to one up another in the racing community.   For me that was never a thought.   I didn’t want to one up a fellow racer, because I am fighting a battle of my own that I am the least bit concerned about beating another human being at something they are trying to do.

So I ask, What’s your Why?

Why do you race?  Why do you motivate?  Why do you help others?  Why?

Loaded questions you may say but its the heart of who we are and why we do what we do, no matter what that may be.  No matter if you just started racing or are a seasoned veteran.   The why behind should be more important than impressing others.   I don’t race to impress others, I race to prove to myself that I can.   I race to help others who struggle with the “can I do it”.   I race because I have found that God gave me lupus so I can help others.

Yes I realize that may sound wrong, but to me it is not.  I am ok with the mission I have on this earth.  I love that racing and working out has almost put my lupus into remission.   To understand that I finally have control of the disease that was killing me is something that makes me want to race more and become healthier.   That healthier word was a word that I never thought I would have in my vocabulary after I was diagnosed 9 years ago.

Yes I love my race medals, they prove to my doctors and non-believers that you can fight lupus with racing, working out, and eating healthy.

So when I post about my success is because for me its a success.    I could barely walk at one time in my life.   I remember my friend Kristy coming to pick me up to take me to the hospital because I was so sick and I couldn’t walk down ONE flight of stairs….I had to crawl to the stairs and sit down and scoot down every single one of them as Kristy watched from the front door which was locked.   I was 22 when that happened.  Young and unable to move because my body was trying to kill me.

I NEVER want to go back to that.   I NEVER want to have to live in a hospital again, although all the hospital staff I have ever dealed with are amazing.   I want to be stronger, healthier, and better.

I am finally taking full responsibility for my life and where I want it to go.   The lupus isn’t in control, and I will live my life with no regrets.   I have a passion, some may call it an addiction, well so be it.  I am addicted to being healthy because I never want to be sick again.

Yes I know I am not the fastest or look anywhere near the athletic type, but I have the heart behind be that will drive me to try, even if I have to crawl.  But I will not give up.   I will not give in.

This weekend I am taking on something that I have never done before.   I am attempting a Road Ragnar Ultra, where I will be running over 40 miles.   This will push my limits for sure.   I have never done that many miles in a weekend, let alone in one single race.   But no matter what, I am not going to let anyone do the miles for me.  I am on a team but this will be an internal battle, the one I need to prove to myself that “screw you lupus, I win”.

Yes I am sure and know for a fact that my lupus is going to be angry but you know what?  I am still going to finish.   I will cross the finish line with my team and ensure that we all get through it!

 


June Fun Times…..I raced A lot…..

 

So my delay in posting was end of May and June…..I went to Jamaica for my brother’s wedding, raced every weekend in June, and then moved in between all of that as well.

Jamaica was awesome, everyone definitely needs to go down there once in their life.  And try the rum and the coffee!

First race up on the block for the month of June was Ragnar Trail Ultra.   I chose to run on an ultra team because I felt the need to be able to push myself a little bit more than I have ever before. It was a very rainy race to say the least.   Running that many miles your feet are bound to swell.  I made the poor decision to wear my road altras……and wiped out coming down some switch backs…..it was fun and I was covered in mud!  In total that race was great and I proved to myself that I was able to maintain that many miles.  (Hence the reason I am training for my next 50k, which I will finish)

Next up on my races for the month was Breckenridge Beast and Sprint.  This race meant a lot to me since I was chosen by Spartan to share my story of overcoming lupus and race with an awesome group of ladies, the Spartan Queens.  We wanted to help and empower women all around the country that just because we are women doesn’t mean we can’t go out and get dirty and race too.  This was an awesome experience and met some amazing women that i not only raced with but will be my friends for a long time!   At the finish line, Lacey, Carrie, and I found out that by the time we finished we would be unable to race the beast.  That was hard to swallow because we all wanted to go out there and race.    However, as we were getting ready to go back for final interviews, Eddie, Lacey’s boyfriend, proposed to her at the finish line!  It was a memorable experience that I will never forget and am so happy for Lacey and Eddie.

The rest of the month was filled with a Ragnar in Wastach and another race in Utah the Super.    In Utah I finished my double trifecta.  I was pretty proud of this and what I have been able to accomplish.

 

I know this isn’t as in depth as my posts usually are.  But I am working on another here in a few that will explain things a little better.


Posting Time

Ok I have been slacking and have some races to catch up on…..so forgive the bombardment of posts coming 🙂 some may be grouped together


Big Sky Country

It seems as though every weekend I am traveling somewhere to go and race.  The whirlwind of a trip to another state to go and run.  Hey its what I do and plus I get to see the country while doing what I love, how much better can that get?

This past weekend we traveled to Kalispell, Montana.  Ok for those of you who have never made it to Montana, I suggest you go!  That place is simply amazing and gorgeous, yes I love Colorado but there is something about Montana that is just so breath taking!

This past weekend was a Spartan Beast.    Last year at the same location, they had a sprint there so I vaguely knew what to expect.  Well boy did I ever have some surprises in  store for me!

We started at 8 am, it was cold, my fingers were turning blue.  That’s always awesome when that starts happening.  Borrowed some gloves and was able to start.  I wasn’t going to wear layers since I knew it was going to warm up and they would only get in my way.

The COR peoples started off slow.  I was still dealing with the fact that the doctor had dug out part of my toe nail out the side of my toe and it was hurting the ankle was swollen.  Yes i know I probably shouldn’t have been racing but hey it was Montana how could I not go and race there and i needed the beast for my triple possibly quadruple trifectas.

Norm designed this course and we knew that going in.   I just didn’t know what to expect.   Well we had hills and lots of them up the hill down the hill and repeat that about a million times, but you know what it was still awesome.  Laura and I stuck together for this race.  She is my best friend and support and this was actually the first time that I was able to race with her!  We had a blast chatted and kept each other going.  See we were both hurt and trying to make it through a Norm Spartan Race, always fun! Right……

We knew we weren’t going to be the fastest out there, hell we were hurt how were we going to.  But we knew we were going to finish no matter what.   Lots of logs and lots of hills.   Our bodies angry at us for pushing ourselves beyond the comfort zone, but we did it.   We didn’t quit, complained minimally.

And the best part was that we were able to help each other through one of the hardest Spartan races I have yet to do.  After listening to people after the race, people were comparing it to the Vermont Beast.  That’s truly one of the hardest courses out there.  So to be able to cross the finish line with my best friend was worth every minute!

Yes I know I could have gone faster had I not been hurt but it is what it is.   I finished and for that I am proud of what i was able to achieve.  I know I will go back next year to annihilate my time and go faster.

I have a few weeks off to recover now, Ragnar Ultra Trail up next.  This should be a lot of running too………I never slow down, its how I want to live my life.  I don’t ever want to be back to the old me, she is long gone and never coming back.

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