Sarah Finding Fit

An unconventional look at fitness... my journey in reaching goals, laughing and having a bunch of outstanding adventures.

Posts tagged Fearless Fridays

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Fearless Friday: Adventures of a Lifetime

Do one thing every day that scares you.

The other night at Crossfit we started talking about rafting… excited at the promise of returning to the river, it drew me back to our battle with the Gauley. 

 “People have died out here!”

My brother turned and gave me a look of terror. I’d known full well what we were getting into, but he, on the other hand was just along for the ride. Now, fully suited up in slimy wetsuits, stinky PFD’s and brightly colored helmets we bumped along in an old yellow school bus on the way to the river… the sun hadn’t even crested the trees, but the chaco-clad bus driver navigated hairpin turns as we twisted our way deeper and deeper into the wild and wonderful mountains. Our overly hyper and uber-inappropriate and rugged 35 year old rafting guide threw out the phrases: “Swim for your life,” “Ball Up Til’ Ya’ Pop Up” and “Rocks are Bad!” His barked instructions were serious but also played into our fears.

 It was October 2009… I’d been determined to escape the city and tackle bucket list item 22: Rafting class V+ rapids. Gauley season promised adventure so I’d enlisted my brother and my friend Vice to join the fun. After a long drive, were in the middle of nowhere West Virginia (cue banjos), knee deep in the trip of a lifetime.

We’d arrived the night before and awoke at 4AM to a dark and dull fog in the mountains. We meandered out of our A-frame cabin to a set of picnic tables under a tent. It was too early to focus, but as novice rafters, we hung on every word of instructions as we huddled under gas heaters for warmth. Shit, it was cold. A small pit of nervous excitement started to grow in my stomach. What had we gotten ourselves into?

When we finally hit the river’s edge, we split into boats and took to the icy water. I landed in the front… my brother directly behind me, Vice across from me. We perfected paddling on a few small rapids and then… we approached our first Class V.  Our guide calmly explained that if we fell out we need to swim for our life to the left and to keep padding, no matter what. WHAT? The water roared… pure power. In a matter of seconds, we were sucked into the current. A tidal wave crashed over the boat, we bumped up against a rock that jutted out, nearly 20ft high, sucking water down under it and spinning us like a toy top. Every muscle tensed, I could feel myself gripping the boat and my paddle with every inch of my body! Paddle, breath, paddle… then silence and flat water and a surge of adrenaline. There is nothing that compares to realizing how powerless and small you are when compared to the forces of nature. 

From Pillow Rock to Pure Screaming Hell we snaked our way over 40 rapids down the Gauley. The upper Gauley is rated #2 in America and #7 in the world when it comes to steep-churning-white-water. To some, it’s considered the best rafting on the east coast, to us, who didn’t know better, it was just one hell of a ride. The 11 miles of river had us on a white knuckle trip over 6 class V rapids and a 14-foot waterfall. Seriously.

At one point, our raft guide asked if we wanted to go cliff jumping. We came all this way and we were already wearing wet suits in icy water…why wouldn’t we also want to jump off a cliff? “Leave your helmets in the boat…” were parting words as we exited the raft and climbed a small section of rocks along the canyon walls. I couldn’t imagine we’d jump more than a few feet, but as my brother hit the top he looked back at me and chuckled, “hahaha, holy shit! betcha won’t jump!” We’d climbed nearly 3 stories… I could hear him scream then splash, then nothing. I put my toes on the jagged edge, my brother looked like a dot treading water below. My turn, no turning back, there was nothing to do but take a deep breath and jump! I hit the water with a slap, my ears popped… it felt like it took minutes to swim back to the surface. Then an awkward frogger-style doggy paddle back to the safety of the raft and the rush of the rapids.

During the trip we were the only boat to stay upright. At one point our instructor even tried to flip us but I think half out of fear and half out of determination, we were dead set on staying in…

As we loaded our exhausted butts back onto the bus at the end of the day, I realized that it’d been a day of firsts: I’d peed in a wet suit, I’d jumped off a cliff, I’d floated over a waterfall and most important, I’d officially rafted the Gauley during Gauley Season! Gauley white water rafting is a badge of accomplishment you earn, and then crave… an experience that you remember forever. In fact, my family still shouts “rocks are bad” when life throws us a curve ball… and when I glace at the bright gold driftwood (aka “shining pop” looking) frame on my shelf with the above picture of us in the water, I giggle to myself as I think about pulling on wet suits and our late night arrival to the middle of nowhere. An escapade like none other.

This Friday, my brother and I embark on another adventure – 8 laps around the track in a NASCAR.  We may not be Carl Edwards or Jeff Gordon and this may not be as much about finding fit (although contrary to popular belief race car drivers are phenomenal athletes) as it is about doing something outside of our comfort zone… trying something that we wouldn’t normally do, testing the edge, crossing something off the bucket list. Flying around an oval at high speeds? Yes, I think tomorrow promises to be another Fearless Friday…

Filed under white water rafting Fearless Fridays fear family race cars Gauley Season gauley river

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Fearless Friday: Operation Shock and Awe

Do one thing every day that scares you.

It’s been a week of early mornings and two-a-day workouts: power yoga, 4 crazy CrossFit sessions, hockey games, a mud run, a run/mt. bike through the woods… operation “Shock and Awe” has been fully waged on my body. 

The objective: push past the plateau and recharge my motivation. The results: within the week, I feel leaner, meaner and more energized than normal.

I think I’ve done enough fearless behavior for 7 days… the true test, keep the battle waging. Time to bring in the reinforcements!

Filed under crossfit Fearless Fridays AM workouts yoga hockey running biking mudrun

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From Born To Run:

The race isn’t so much to beat each other… but to be with each other.

This weekend, between swimming across a deep pond, slithering through mud under barbed wire and jumping over fire… I remembered that races didn’t always have to be about racing; instead, they can be about spending a Saturday morning with a friend. (Thank you Amanda!)

Lessons learned while rebelling:

  1. Bring baby wipes, the lines for the hose are way too long. 
  2. I am allergic to hay.
  3. Mud makes you heavy.
  4. Scaling 8’ walls is hard when you are only 5’2” - it’s a long way to drop on the back side. (So all you tall people, don’t yell at us when we get scared!)
  5. Mud washes out of places that you don’t want to find mud afterwards.
  6. Latex body paint is awesome!
  7. Beer is tasty… wait, we already knew that!
  8. Mud runs are fun! So much fun that I’m submitting myself to another one in October: Tough Mudder

Filed under mud mudrun running Fearless Fridays toughmudder rebel run

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Fearless Friday: Run, Mud, Obstacles then Beer, Bourbon, BBQ

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sometimes I have and intense urge to tackle insane obstacles… so this weekend I plan to venture to the backwoods of Frederick, Maryland to unleash my inner Rebel. Up to 5 miles filled with 22 barricade-climbing, mud-crawling, rope-swinging and fire-jumping obstacles that give me the opportunity to, you gussed it, flirt with danger as well as challange my test physical toughness and mental endurance. 

Then, post shower… I’ll taste It, sip it, and pork it at the Beer, Burbon and BBQ FestivalWho writes about Beer, Bourbon and BBQ on a fitness blog? I DO!

Between earning Rebel bragging rights and going hog wild… it proves to be a fearless weekend for sure!

Filed under bbq beer mud mudrun obstacle course races fear Fearless Fridays

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Fearless Friday: Finding Fit

Do one thing every day that scares you.

North Face Endurance Challenge here I come.  When someone suggested the race a while back, my first thought was, wait, a long race the day before my birthday? More importantly, a long race the day after the night I will probably celebrate my birthday?

With every ending, comes a new beginning: the last race in my 20s, my first 10k.

When I started this blog last year, I’d mentioned that I was finding my own balance between fitness and freedom. This year I’ve managed to push the boundaries of my comfort zone, find new limits, exceed personal expectations and learn more about myself than I ever imagined. I’ve found inspiration in the strangest of places and renewed an inner strength that I wasn’t sure I still had. I gutted through 13.1 miles in honor of my mom, signed up to run not one, but two series of trail races, found peace in a hot room on a mat, made my way through a dark battlefield at 2AM, found speed on an oval, figured out something most interesting about sunscreen and topped it off by finishing a race at the top of my age bracket. In many ways, I’ve come to understand and trust that life is all about the road that you take… rather than where you land at the finish.

It’s about the friendships you make in a van, a cold and hoppy IPA after a long hike, knowing that your family loves you when everyone else is busy, the moment in a race when your body asks you to quit but you dig deep and find the will to push through, afternoons on a deck or in a hammock, gelato, campfires, climbing a volcano in a foreign country, backyard grilling, relying on a raft to carry you through a raging river… It seems fitting that this weekend, I’ll celebrate 30 on a trail, pushing myself to find fit. In-between log hopping and heavy breathing, I plan to let my mind wander to the path I’ve taken… it’s aweing to look back and think about how far I’ve come. It’s been a great adventure thus far, but I’m confident that the best is yet to be!

Now, enough reminiscing… time to get out there and get fearless.

Filed under races 10k trailrunning liver transplant Fearless Fridays family relay races yog yoga beer beer

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Fearless Friday: Finding A Bike

This weekend I am off to the bike shop…

In an effort to integrate fitness into my daily routine, I’d like to cut my commute time by peddling the five miles into the office, rather than riding. Maybe if I’m brave enough, one day I’ll even try a tri… but I need the right equiptment first. Sadly, my old Trek mountain bike isn’t cutting it… it turns five miles on the road into 20 miles of quicksand - a la water into wine.

In the past, I’ve felt a bit out of place in bike shops… all the fancy parts and sizes and brands… I feel completely out of my league.  But this weekend, I’m biting the bullet! Time to test ride!

Filed under biking Fearless Fridays

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Fearless Wednesday: Yes, we are The Most Interesting Team in the World

Do one thing each day that scares you.

Here we go again!

200 miles (well, actually 196.35), 12 people (okay 11 – since our team is down a runner), 24 hours (probably more like 32), 2 vans, 1 awesome adventure.  American Odyssey Relay, here we come!

How did I get myself roped into doing this all over again? Perhaps the high from the Ragnar Relay last September allured me. Perhaps my running friends are just really good at persuasion. Perhaps I’m just one of those people who are a glutton for punishment… or at least always game for a really good adventure.

When explaining the weekend ahead to colleagues or friends, I seem to get the same response, “Fun? Really? I don’t think so! You’re crazy!” Yes, I am a little crazy… but if you haven’t expierenced a 24-hour relay race, I suggest you add it to the bucket list. It proves to be a solo running, team bonding, logisitcs mess, all nighter-pulling, 24 hour food eating, adventure that gives you a high like non-other when you cross the finish line. Plus, why would anyone turn down the opportunity to be part of the most interesting team in the world? You get glow-sticks and butt blinkies and cool t-shirts!

I’ll personally be responsible for about 17.2 miles of the course: this time I’ll don number 10 and head up Van 2. 

So…2 sleeps, then it truly will be a Fearless Friday! Follow our vans via Twitter: @sarahfindingfit (van 2), @onthebusrunning (van 1)

Filed under American Odyssey Relay relay races Fearless Fridays running

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Fearless Friday: Balancing Work and Working Out

Do one thing each day that scares you.

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged… these past weeks, I’ve found myself stranded in a temperature controlled jungle, under a florescent sun.  In the midst of interfacing with speakers, booking interviews, and hammering out last minute logistics for an event, I’ve found myself pounding the keys of my keyboard until nearly 9PM most nights…melting into bed as soon as I hit the sheets, my mind racing through the night.

A week without workouts is my Kryptonite: I become powerless… my mood shifts, I start to doubt myself – life becomes heavy and hectic. My mind and body suffer. I jonse for time outside, fresh air, clear mind, sweat, intensity…

After a cleansing run with my friends through the battlefield of Manassas the weekend before last, Brad (@Onthebusrunnning) reminded me of how far I’d come since September of last year… With p90x and INSANITY, a 24-hour relay race, multiple trail runs, a half marathon and host of other adventures under my belt – I’ve become a junkie.

It’s funny how my fitness adventure has taken on a life of its own in my office. Sometimes a colleague will pop their head into the office gym to watch me get murdered by Shaun T, other times they offer a smirk as I walk past the front desk drenched in sweat from an after work run. I talk about protein shakes over the water cooler and some of the other office runners will stop by on Mondays to share their weekend race results because, “I’d be interested to hear how it went.” I even found myself presenting on the topic of work/life balance and office fitness at a team meeting last week.

So this past week as Brad ran Boston and my event wrapped, I renewed my vows to myself to practice what I preach - finding balance in life and fitness.

Perhaps the answer lies in new ways to incorporate finding fit into my daily life… biking my commute? Scheduling workout time on my outlook calendar? Waking up early… wait, I’ve tried that before… Cashing in that Crossfit coupon?

The weekend awaits… time to get to it!

Filed under Fearless Fridays

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Fearless Friday: Getting Back on the Wagon

Do one thing each day that scares you.

Is it possible to loose everything in a week? I think my greatest fear is loosing the fit that I’ve found so far… that all of my efforts will melt away over the course of a week. After the National Half Marathon last Saturday, I took a week off to heal my shins, let the swelling go down in my black eye, relax and recoup from the months of running. Fingers crossed, it was good for both my body and soul. This weekend, I need to dig deep into my pocket of motivation, hop back on the wagon and get back to it! Always forward, never back!

your journey has molded you for the greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. don’t think that you’ve lost time. it took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. and now is right on time.

-Asha Tyson

 The journey has truly molded me into a stronger person and today is a new Friday… now is the time to get Fearless!

Filed under Fearless Fridays