Down and Dirty in PA

Five miles of hilly terrain.  Seven newly acquainted teammates.  Twelve unknown, muddy obstacles.  Hundreds of face-painted women dressed in matching outfits.  This does not describe my usual Saturday afternoon.  This is not my comfort zone.

I am not generally one to do something wild.  New experiences make me uneasy.  The unknown makes me anxious.  Throw in the fact that I don’t like crowds, mud or running long distances, and it’s a wonder that I entered Mudderella PA 2014 at all.  But I did.  I put on my big girl underpants, a pair of old running sneakers and did something crazy … I got down and dirty and had a blast at Mudderella.

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I have to admit, I had butterflies in my belly before we started.  I go to a kick-ass boot camp three days a week with an awesome trainer and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, but I was still nervous.  I didn’t know my teammates well, I had no idea what the obstacles would be like and I stopped running distances almost two years ago.  Would I be able to handle this?  Was I tough enough?  Confident enough?

As the #mudderella #wave9 group of runners warmed up, I looked around and saw women of all shapes and sizes, ages and ethnicities.  Some of these women looked like they couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, but they were hootin’ and hollerin’ and rearing to go.  If they could do it, I thought, so could I.  This was a fun run, after all.  You start and finish with your team.  No winners, no losers.  Just hundreds of women “owning their strong” as the Mudderella theme dictates.

So at 11:30 when the whistle blew (actually, I think it was just a woman yelling “GO!,” but you get the idea), I threw caution to the wind and went for it.

I climbed up nets and over walls.  I ran through mud and over hills.  I crawled under wires and even underground (into a dark hole like a groundhog!).  I carried a teammate on my back and let her carry me .  I cheered on fellow racers and pulled strangers out of mud pits.  I ran the entire course, all five hilly miles of it (thank you, 20-something tri-athlete Jenny, for keeping me motivated) and held hands with my new friends as we crossed the finish line together.

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a full-body dunk washed away much of the mud just moments before crossing the finish line

I got muddy and wet and I may have even peed myself a little (blame it on childbirth … damn kids!), but I did it.  I even handled the group rinse station and communal changing tent like a champ.  With boobies and bums abound, there was no room for modesty, just quick action.  I credit my many dressing room experiences at Loehmann’s and Century 21 for my prowess — you New Yorkers know what I’m talking about.

All in all, I rocked it.  No, I crushed it.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and owned my strong … and then some.  We all did.

Would I do another mud race?  I don’t know … It did take two showers to feel clean again (and three washes to get the mud off my clothes).  But I do know that the next time I’m faced with a new situation, if I believe I can handle it, I will.  I just have to own my (inner) strong.

A quote from the gym, but apropos for all of life's challenges

A quote from the gym, but apropos for all of life’s challenges

– LJDT

Old Dog, New Tricks

Tom Dewey eats hummus … and roasted chickpeas, celery sticks (without a Bloody Mary), and even (gasp!) protein shakes.

Who is Tom Dewey and why is this shocking?  Or better yet, why should you care?  Because it proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

My mom and dad

My mom and dad

Tom Dewey is my 70-year-old father who, for decades, existed on chips, salsa and Rolling Rock beer.  Regardless of the man’s dietary choices, his weight and size never fluctuated.  A runner, he was tall and slender with “well-oiled pistons” (read: strong legs, which he liked to show off in shorts), wearing the same size 32-32 pants for as long as I can remember.  Until a couple of years ago.  As we all know, with age comes change — and a little extra weight around the middle.

Two months ago, on the day before he turned 70, my dad asked for my advice.  Pigs were flying and hell froze over (and you thought it was the Polar Vortex!).  He wanted to lose some weight.  He wanted some help on what changes he could make to his diet, and he wanted me to tell him.  [Disclaimer:  I am neither a nutritionist nor a personal trainer, but I have made some major changes to my diet and lifestyle over the past two years with fantastic results.]  Stop the presses!  After two years of preaching the benefits of eating whole foods and increasing protein intake, it seemed that my dad was now ready to hear me.

So I spoke and he listened.  He then went to Trader Joe’s and the rest is history.  My chip-eating, beer-drinking dad has started eating “clean.”  Ok, not really clean per se, but he is making some healthy swaps:  lentil chips instead of tortilla chips with salsa; carrot sticks instead of pretzel sticks (and with hummus now); a breakfast smoothie with protein powder and fruit instead of a buttered roll; and an actual lunch (e.g., low sodium turkey on low-carb, whole grain bread) or at least a (hopefully not-too-processed) protein bar instead of nothing at all.  Baby steps.  I don’t see him going full-on Paleo anytime soon, but I am proud of him for taking steps to improve his nutrition and, ultimately, his health because I’d like him to stick around a lot longer.

I know it wasn’t my nagging that finally got him to make these adjustments.  The man is stubborn and I say that in a loving way.  He’s old-school, set in his ways like most septuagenarians and octogenarians.  I’m sure the impetus came from his doctors.  But does it really matter?  No.  Does it give me a little satisfaction knowing that he’s doing it “my way?”  Yes, frankly, because it’s nice to be listened to, especially for a (recovering) control freak like me.  But that isn’t my point.

What is my point, you’re wondering?  That an old dog can learn new tricks.  That it’s never too late to make a change.

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It’s the end of February now and for many of us, those New Year’s Resolutions that we swore we’d keep this year have fallen by the wayside.  So what now?  Start over.  Today.  Every day is a fresh start.  A do-over.  A chance to be better than the day before.  For my dad, that chance involves making healthier eating choices.  For me, each day is a chance to speak kinder, be more patient and enjoy life more.  If I mess up, I’ll try again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

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Eventually, I’ll get it right.

– LJDT