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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Because I Can (Do This Triathlon)

On Saturday morning, I will wake up early and head to Presque Isle State Park and compete in the 2016 Presque Isle Triathlon. It's not going to be easy, and I'm going to have to handle anxiety and concern during the open water swim and my bike ride and a sore left hamstring during my run, but I'm going to do this. I'm going to finish this race.

One of the ways I plan to handle these challenges is with a positive inner monologue. I am also planning to think of people I love and people that inspire me.

Positive Inner Monologue

  • Look, you're at the first buoy!
  • (Count your strokes. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5….)
  • Now you're past the first buoy!
  • You are so lucky to be able to do this.
  • You are past the second buoy. You can do this.
  • You're done the swim!!! First victory!!

  • Nice and easy, get rolling and clip in.
  • First pedal. You're doing this.
  • Remember how great you felt on that duathlon? This feels good, too!
  • No hills. 
  • You are so lucky to be able to do this.
  • Another mile down. You can do this.
  • You finished the bike ride. You did it. Second victory.

  • Running. You know this. 
  • Nice and flat. 
  • Your legs are strong. 
  • Your heart is strong. 
  • You will finish, because you can. 

People I Love

1. I'll think about my youngest learning to ride his bike this summer and how happy he is flying down the road. He's even trying to ride with one hand. I could use that kind of bravery!

2. I'll think about my middle son learning to put his face in the water this summer and how he loves swimming underwater now. He's even talking about going off the diving board and considering swim team. Absolutely brave.

3. I'll think about my oldest handling everything from trying out for a new soccer team to having teeth pulled. Totally tough.

4. I'll think about my husband doing his first duathlon and pushing himself out of his comfort zone.

People Who Inspire Me

I know I am not an Olympian, don't worry. No delusions. But Olympians inspire me!! I'm going to think about these women while I compete in my own little race.

I want to be like Kristen Armstrong who is about my age, and won that gold medal because she knew she could do it. I will tell myself "I am biking in this race because I can!"

I want to be like Katey Ledecky. She said she had goals in the water, but one of them was to have fun. "It's fun to swim fast," she said. I love having fun.

I want to be like Sarah Robles. She won bronze in weightlifting. Yes, weightlifting is not a part of a triathlon. But she screamed before her lift and in an interview she said she did it to get the bad guys out of her head. She wanted her voice to be the loudest voice in her head. I want that, too!!

I want to be like Desiree Linden. She started the marathon at the London Olympics at 2012, but didn't finish. I know what that's like. (Sort of.) But she finished at Rio, and she finished in the top 10. TOP TEN. That's amazing. She said, "I can be proud of it now...Before, it was something that I didn’t want to talk about. I’ll wear the T-shirt now. When people ask I’ll have a story."

I love stories. I can't wait to tell mine.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Apple Camp for Kids

This summer, my older two boys were able to participate in Apple Camp at Ross Park Mall. This camp is free and lasts for 90 minutes on three separate days. It is only offered for a short time and is extremely popular and hard to get in. There are three topic areas: iBooks, iMovie, and Video Game Design and Programming Robots. We picked the last topic and chose the afternoon sessions on a Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.

On the very first day, we learned that kids can also have birthday parties at the Apple store and schools can bring field trips! So that's a cool idea to keep in mind for winter boredom days. 

Apple Camp is great, but it isn't a drop off camp. Parents are asked to stay in the mall and if they want to stay in the store, they can participate in a creativity session. I thought I'd be learning about neat ways to use my own iWork apps, but on the first day we actually got an overview of what our kids would be learning and some insight into the purpose behind the camp. It was interesting!

Back to Apple Camp. The campers used apps like Tynker and Hopscotch that encouraged them to think about coding in steps. This reminded me of the board game Robot Turtles which also encourages this kind of thinking without any technology. 

Of course they wore Beats. 

The instructor for parents was thinking along my lines and recommend the website that helps kids make the leap from instructional design to actually coding AND offers paper-based products so kids can develop these skills without access to computers. 


Turns out Apple needs engineer and this camp is designed to encourage instructional design and logical thinking. But it's not a long camp, so it's really an intro into apps that kids can use year round to develop instructional design and logical thinking. 

I daydreamed a little and imagined what it would be like if my kids applied logical thinking to their entire lives…probably too good to be true.

The second day of camp focused on some hardware options and introduced the campers to Sphero. Our instructor suggested we also look into the Little Bits products that encourages kids to use everyday at home objects with electronic components to build projects. Sounds like a fun Christmas present idea to me! 

I didn't actually hear everything that was mentioned about this next part because I was multi-tasking and getting my oldest son's cracked phone screen repaired. 

The last main thing we learned that the Swift Playground apps will be available for free when iOS 10 launches this fall. Swift the language has been around for a few years, but the Playgrounds app will allow kids to code mini-programs.

Also, we learned that the wifi at the mall stinks and it's hard to catch Pokemon there. But I did snag a Meowth. That's right.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Triathlon Training Whack-A-Mole

My one triathlon of 2016, the Presque Isle Triathlon, is in 11 days. YIKES.

I think I've put in some really good swimming preparation, both in the pool and in open water. That was a real problem in my training two years ago:

I wasn’t allowed to swim with goggles for the first two weeks of August, so my swims were basically some half-effort head-above-water kicking and pulling drills.
I'm way ahead of that this year. I've done 3 open water swims and excellent pool work every week. I've even improved my one-sided breathing and managed to inject some left-side breathing into my workouts. In today's open water swim, I even took one breath on my left side to prove it was possible!! YAY!

But training for this race is like whack-a-mole. I've got my running and swimming in a good spot, so of course a problem pops up with cycling. It's a weird one, and not one I was expecting at all, especially after such a fun, relaxed race in the Maryland Duathlon!

It's weird and it's frustrating. And it's out the blue. I had a funny inkling of it the last ride before the MD Duathlon, though, when I was riding around my neighborhood doing a mini-brick and practicing transition. I put my foot on the pedals, and instead of smoothly flowing down the road, I kind of froze. I almost couldn't make my muscles do their thing. But the moment passed and I did, not fearlessly, but kind of tucking the fear somewhere else.

I did the duathlon and really felt great. The next week, I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone and met my coach at Hartwood Acres. We started fairly smoothly, but at the top of a small hill, I gazed down the slope and noticed the curve to the right, and panicked. I froze. I stopped pedaling and hopped off my bike and told my coach I couldn't go that way. We went a different direction, completed a much shorter ride than planned, and instead I went running.

The next ride I did was on my slower hybrid and I went to Montour trail. It's straight and flat. I biked for an enjoyable 50 minutes, and wasn't that fazed by my embarrassing fall at the Park Manor Blvd intersection. I transitioned to a very quick run for what I felt was a successful brick.

Last Friday rolled around and it was time for my next brick. It had been a tough week and I had to rearrange workouts because of crazy summer schedules. I parked along Lakeshore at North Park, a place I have ridden many, many (many) times, and freaked out.

Here's what I mean. I couldn't make my legs start pedaling. I would clip in, push off, and feel like I was going to fall. My arms would jerk and the bike wobble. I stopped. Coasted. Tried to lift my foot into the clips. Failed. Coasted. Tip-toed down the road. Tried to balance. Failed. Got off bike. Walked back to start place. Wondered what the hell was going on. Panicked.

It might have been a mini-panic attack, but it was a definite freak out. My leg muscles trembled. I was sweating and nauseous. My hands were cramped then weak. My heart was beating way too fast. I was well aware of all of these physiological reactions and knew there were some crazy fear response going on here, so I tried to implement the strategies from the open water clinic. I talked to myself a lot and visualized what I would tell my husband later. I didn't want to say, "I couldn't ride my bike today." I imagined saying, "I had a terrible problem trying to ride my bike today, but I made myself calm down and was finally able to ride." And that's the scenario I made happen.

I didn't really cry, but I wanted to. I gave up twice. I actually walked back to my van saying, "I just don't have it today." But I tried again, because I needed to ride my bike for 13 miles in two weeks.  I failed again, and a few more times, and then somehow, got my foot on the pedal and started moving. I hadn't turned off my Garmin, so I noticed it had taken me a full 15 minutes to get moving on my bike.

I rode for a total of 50 minutes that day, but it was slow and tense. Every little thing bothered me. A bug hitting me in the face. A car swerved near me. A kid on a bike wobbling at me. My legs were weak going up hills from the fear-adrenaline from earlier. But I rode my bike.

The brick didn't happen because I forgot my running shoes, but in a way my workout that day was a greater mental challenge than I have faced in awhile. And even though I survived the ride, my fear isn't gone. Sunday, I took my bike to the school parking lot and practiced starting on the pedals. And I did it today, too. I'll try it again tomorrow. I'm experimenting with what works and I've had some success with coasting up to speed, gaining my balance, and then clipping in. Today I also clipped in with my left foot first, which is a weird departure from my normal routine.

Prior to the duathlon I did a 30 minute clip-in/clip-out workout that I named "Mr. Miyagi." I think I need to do that again. But like my husband says, this feels like a real regression of skills and comfort, and I don't know why. I don't have time to figure out why, right now, I have to just figure out how to get myself moving so I can do the triathlon. After the race, then I'll think about why.

In addition to practicing pedaling, I have some other plans:

I'm gonna do triathlon whack-a-mole and whack this cycling thing down.

I've also started reading Triathlon EQ. A big part of that book includes guidance on managing the body's fear response, but also on managing our thoughts. Triathlon EQ encourages athletes to think about people they love, about what we're grateful for, and positive moments of success. I have a lot of those. I need to tuck them in my mind's pocket and pull them out with a flourish. 

I will think about my middle son mastering his fears of putting his face in the water. I'll think about my youngest learning to ride a bike this summer and keeping his positive attitude in the face of incredible frustration. I'll think about my oldest handling being cut from a team for the first time, and trying out and making a new team. I'll think about my husband tackling his first duathlon. I'm so grateful for the time in my life to train for my events and the health of my body. And I will think about my wonderful feeling when finished the duathlon, my pride in winning the Pen Parentis Fellowship award, and the feeling I will have when I finish this race.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Face The Open Water! (Presque Isle Triathlon Here I Come)

Remember that scene in Harry Potter when the grindylows try to drag him down into the Black Lake?

photo credit Harry Potter wiki

Yeah, I know it's imaginary. But I've got a good imagination.

It's one of the things I picture when I swim in open water. And it freaks me out and makes me nervous.

You know what else makes me freak and feel nervous? Touching the gross gooey bottom of the lake. Or feeling lake weed brush against my arms or face. And not being able to see more than a foot in front of me or below me. But I also don't think I'd want to see what was below me.

So, pretty much the whole open water swim experience freaks me out. But it's good to be freaked out, right?

There's something magical about surviving something you're scared to do. Like, let's say, ropes courses. Or here's an example: paddle boarding.

For her birthday, my good friend wanted to try paddle boarding. Now paddle boarding is probably lots of fun when you're not worried about falling into clear, warm, tropical waters. But we had to do this North Park. And I did not want to fall in. Yes, I'm training for an open water swim, but not in North Park lake. Some woman caught a piranha in there. (OK, so I didn't know that until after we went paddle boarding, but it's still true. Sort of. My one friend thinks it's a pacu.)

(What is a pacu?)

Anyway, it was her birthday and she likes doing adventures. So we rented the boards from Kayak Pittsburgh North Park, donned our personal flotation devices, and pushed off the dock. I was not happy. I stayed on my knees for the entire way out to the little stone tower. It wasn't easy, but I went to Catholic school for eight years and my knees are tough. Of course my adventurous birthday friend stood up right away.  I was struggling just to keep my balance.

My friend asked why I was paddling so much faster than her, and I knew why.


I eventually did stand up, after several tries, on the way back. I regretted standing because I felt much less stable but I kept paddling and got back to shore. And when the experience was done, I felt great.

Post-Paddle Boarding Happiness!

But the Presque Ise triathlon is getting closer. And that means I will have to manage my anxiety about open water. When I attempted this triathlon two years ago, it was spur of the moment and I hadn't put any time in the open water. I was counting on my experience from the summer before, and that was a mistake. To handle something like the open water swim experience, I need help. But Professor Moody and Neville are nowhere to be found.

Luckily I have people like Joella Baker and Suzanne Atkinson. This summer they've each hosted open water swim clinics at Moraine State Park. And each time I've gotten my face in the water.

Yes it is still creepy. But I'm doing it.

The first one was a Monday night swim after coaching session with Suzanne. We talked about fears and managing our anxieties. She encouraged us to think about our feelings and focus on our senses to move from yellow to green on the anxiety stoplight. I chose some positive focus thoughts, like gratitude and people who loved me, and struggled into my wetsuit and oh good lord was the bottom of the lake disgusting. My feet sunk ankle deep in muck. The water was warm, thankfully, but ewwie green and there were sharp floating bits of lake weed drifting around and lightly scratching my bare arms. But I swam about 800m or so back and forth between the buoys. Suzanne cheered us on and took fun photos after the swim. I felt great.

The second time was on a Sunday morning and the clinic was run by Joella. She talked about safety stokes - something I've already been planning to use if needed!- and balance in the water. I got into the water quicker this time. The lake bottom was still GROSS and those creepy irritating lily pads were still EVERYWHERE but it was less unexpected. I swam a straight 800m and then Joella asked me to swim a little more so she could evaluate my stroke. She gave such positive feedback it felt great.

I'm always so nervous before each open water swim, and I'm not totally relaxed while I'm swimming, but I do admit I feel terrific when I've done it.

And I'm a 261Fearless Ambassador. Facing things that make us nervous is what we do.

Just like my middle son who's also scared of putting his face in the water. He recently decided he was going to try it, and he liked it. I'm keeping this image in my brain when I swim in the Presque Isle triathlon this August 20.

Open Water Swim Panic Managed.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Go BEYOND: A Shopping Trip Through Bed, Bath and Beyond

My friend's getting married in October and buying a new house so that means wedding registry and a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond. I love that name. I love what "Beyond" implies. This store isn't just selling you stuff for your bed and bath. It's going to take you BEYOND.

Beyond what? Your WILDEST DREAMS.

Let's start with how it solves every day problems like fruits and vegetables going bad. Now, you could just eat your fruits and vegetables and let them be digested in your intestines, but in case you leave them sitting around and let them go bad, Bed, Bath and BEYOND can solve that problem.  Get this Veggie Sock.

Oh wait, that says Veggie Sack. I thought it was a sock. Well, anyway, it will keep your fresh food fresh longer so you can toss in it the compost much later than you planned. You might even say BEYOND what you planned.

Now on to coffee. You can get this Bialetti and brew amazing espresso. BEYOND belief!

But if you're really slow at drinking it, you can keep it warm in your mug warmer. What I want to know is if this mug warmer can also warm up booze like hot toddies and s'mores. Because that would really be helpful and take me BEYOND.

Now this is BEYOND. An Angry Mama microwave cleaner. Because, yeah, when I have to clean the microwave I, too, am an Angry Mama.

Oh look, here's something else to stave off the inevitable decay of produce. It's called a BluApple. Because nothing says fresh like an apple that's blue. Yuck. Look, just eat your fruits and vegetables every day and they won't go bad. It's simple. Why does BB&B keep trying to take them past their lifespan? Oh right. BEYOND.

It's not that hard to eat fresh food. For instance, you could pack a lunch of fruits and vegetables in this handy travel salad bowl. 

Or fill ALL the portion cups with fruits and vegetables.

Or spiral them up with the Veggetti Pro!! Now this is BEYOND! But wait, what does it say down there in the right hand corner? Compact storage? 

It takes up an entire drawer. That's not compact, people. In fact, that's BEYOND compact. 

Ok wait a minute. I get why the Angry Mama is angry, but why is the Scrub Daddy so happy? I can tell you no Daddy I know is very happy to scrub anything.

Wait! I know why Scrub Daddy is happy! Because he found ANOTHER way to extend the life of his produce!! And it's not cryogenics, it's this EXTRALIFE produce saver! What is it? Some kind of alien pod? You know, you could just EAT THE PRODUCE BEFORE IT GOES BAD.

You could use these scissors to chop up herbs and season your produce so you want to EAT IT BEFORE IT GOES BAD!!! (ok, I actually really like these and I'm going to get some for myself and my mother-in-law. I can share that with you because she doesn't read this blog.) (I think.)

Aww, Butter Boy is what I nicknamed one of my kids.

Detour over to cosmetics. This would never make my life easier. Not putting on make-up makes my life easier. Having 25 lipsticks makes my life harder. BEYOND harder. 

This could make my life easier, especially if I could store candy and coffee in there. Does it have a cup holder? One that fits my new mug warmer? No?? Asking too much???

I bet I could line one the the lap desk drawers with FreshPaper and keep my produce fresh longer. 


Alright, I needed to calm down. And this helped. The Magic Mesh has nothing to do with produce and everything to do with saving the life of small children and intoxicated adults who run into screen doors. This product actually works. Loved it. 

Is that…
french fries?


This is so BEYOND.

There's a thing to catch all the crap that falls in the car while you're eating and driving.

They read my mind. Except mine would be covered in zucchini fries.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

2016 Maryland Duathlon Sprint

What an incredible race.


The Maryland Duathlon hosted by Rip It Events was my first duathlon ever and my first multisport event in over a year. I made the decision a little late in the summer after my husband decided he wanted to try it. I figured it would be a good race for me to prepare for the Presque Isle Triathlon in August.

Also, the race was in my hometown of Glenwood! Lots of good vibes.

The Sprint race is a 2 mile run, a 13 mile bike ride and a 2 mile run. I was not worried about the run portions, but I was worried about the bike. I'm not a confident biker to begin with, and while I had ridden the course a year or two ago, it was with my husband and it was not that great. He wanted me to ride in front so he could keep an eye on me, but that made me nervous to have him behind me. And he didn't like how far I was from the white line, but I didn't like the camber on the side of the road. There was a lot of anxiety on that ride.

Not this time.

I was ready.

First, I rode my bike every day the week leading up to the race, even if only for a short time. I even practiced mounting, clipping in, starting, riding, clipping out, stopping and dismounting for a full half hour one day. I call it my Mr. Miyagi workout.


I needed to do this because I've felt some real anxiety starting recent rides. Not a paralysis of fear, but a sort of frozen hesitation on those first pedals.

The Mr. Miyagi workout helped me get past that frozen feeling and make the movements more automatic.

So race morning arrived and I was able to wake up nice and early after a decent night's rest. I ate a solid breakfast and headed out to the race site. Parking is super easy and I had all my gear. Everything was smooth. I even got to see my kids right before the race started thanks to the perfect timing of my mother-in-law. Here's me at the start of the first 2 mile run. 

The run is a little hilly, but nothing bigger than the hills we walk up to get to the bus stop! The race starts downhill then sweeps up and down again onto a trail then out onto Carrs Mill past a water stop and downhill to the turnaround, then you follow Carrs Mill up and down the hills to the park entrance and up into transition. Here I am coming into transition.

In transition, I had everything laid out the way I wanted. I did take time to put on gloves because I was worried sweaty hands would make it harder for me to shift and break. It was very humid in MD and I was very sweaty. I might not do that again, not sure. I ran my bike out through transition and got to the mount line. I implemented my Mr. Miyagi plan and went into my automatic moves of mounting the bike, clipping in, doing a few pedal half-circles, got moving, then clipped in on the left. 

This mount area has a slight uphill and that made it hard to get started for some people. My family noted that more than one person fell as they tried to mount. I know one lady next to me got frustrated as she had trouble mounting. While I was in no way mounting with grace or fancy skill, I was calm and steady and started the bike leg with confidence. 

That confidence carried me through all 13 miles. I felt great. I got bolder going downhills and stayed as steady as I could uphill. I used my front gears a lot more than usual. I did still experience the weird delayed click when I shifted my back gears up hills (yes I still have to try to fix that) but it didn't unnerve me like it has in the past. I felt so great during this ride. While it wasn't fast, I definitely enjoyed myself and I think that's the main value of this ride.

There were a few decent hills. The first one shows up on Union Chapel heading to the Ed Warfield intersection, then there is a S hill on Daisy that was a challenge, and some false flats on Carrs Mill as you head to the finish. Near the finish are two decent climbs on Carrs Mill. Not steep but long and steady.

Here's a video of me finishing that shows how I happy I felt.

Back on the run!

The second run course was a reversal of the first run course. I passed people who were struggling up the hills. My strategy for the hills was to think about knee lift, about cadence, and about quick steps. I wanted to look ahead and keep moving to the finish. Carrs Mill Road does have a decent hill down to the turnaround and then back up to the park, and the finish is uphill. I wasn't worried about time, really, just focused on finishing strong after feeling so good on the bike. At this point, any finish time was a win because it was such a positive race experience.

To the finish!! Powering through!

Here's a screenshot of my finish line dance. You may have seen the video version on Facebook. I'm told it was "mesmerizing." I don't mind. I was so happy. Also, finishers get an ice cold towel at the finish and that was pretty wonderful. 

OK, let's look at splits.

I was 6th in my age group.

Here's my first run. Since my name isn't there, just count to the sixth result and you'll see I was 3rd in my age group for this run. Good place. Decent pace at 8:52. I think I could speed that up a little next year. I was holding back, worried about the hills and bike.

I dropped to 5th in my age group for T1. I blame the bike gloves. I could wear them on the run.

Ok this is the bike. I was 11 out of 12. Yes, I was slow. Only 13mph average pace. I was about :30 away from the 10th place finisher. Room to improve.

Back up to 4th place for T2. Good job, me.
 And I was 5th in my age group for my second run, only a few seconds behind the 4th place woman.

My final time was 1:40. I was 8 minutes behind the woman ahead of me. That's a lot! It's definitely from the bike. There's no way I can get 8 minutes from running. To drop 8 minutes from the bike, I'd have to maintain an average speed of 15 mph. I really think that's actually doable. I think I could get a minute faster on each run, too. That could put me closer to finishing top 3 in my age group.
Obviously, there's no saying who will race next year, what the weather will be like, etc. But I loved this race and would happily do it again. I also feel like I can train for it better and put a little higher expectation on myself for my performance. I learned a lot, and gained confidence and felt really proud.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Me and My Oldest Go Ape! at North Park in Pittsburgh

This summer, my oldest has faced some tough growing pains. He had his first teeth extracted, he got cut from one soccer team - but made another! - and went to his first sleep away camp. So if that wasn't enough to stress him out, I also decided he and I were going to try the Go Ape! ropes course at North Park.

You might remember I'm not a fan of heights. And that we've attempted one ropes course before.

I didn't know if I would be able to Go Ape! and wondered if he'd go on his own with an instructor while I chickened out on the ground. But when we arrived at the course, we learned we were responsible for clipping ourselves in and out of all the safety lines way high up in the trees. By ourselves. On our own. That freaked me out. But I told myself to press on.

We got the harnesses on and went through the training course. First you read it and do it on your own, then the instructor walks you through it. They were referencing things that made me nervous, like rope ladders. And what did the instructor mean by a Tarzan swing? Like, swinging? On a rope? In the air?

Yes, that's what he meant.

We went to the first stage and watched a demonstration of hooking into the lines before climbing the ladder, unhooking and rebooking at the platform, then hooking in and going down the zip line. I do like a good zip line. It looked ok. And the training platform wasn't that high.

We did the mini-zipline and it was great.

So my oldest and I volunteered to go next and we began the wobbly ascent at the next stage. Which was much higher.

Halfway up, he turned around and said in a quiet, nervous voice, "Mom?"

Right behind him, I said in a quiet but confident voice, "We can do this. It's going to be great."

(Yes, I lie to my kids.)

The next stage included the tarzan swing. YIKES. But we did it.

Go Ape! encourages people to not bring their phones or be very, very careful with them. We brought ours because we wanted treetop selfies. My husband texted me during the early part of the course and asked how I was holding up. I sent this terrified photo.

But we kept going. And I got to go down a zipline which I loved!! I learned to only focus on the tree in front of me as I climbed the rope ladder. And we learned to sit into our harnesses a little for stability and how to go a little faster over each obstacle. And we were laughing and having fun.

We were doing this.

I sent my husband another photo later on. Things were going great.

I snapped this shot of my son pausing halfway over an obstacle that had him a little nervous, but he conquered it. I was proud of him, but I also know he was proud of himself. I know just how he felt. I was proud of both of us.

Actually, I was elated. It's hard to describe how incredible I felt not only conquering this course that really terrified me, but truly enjoying myself while I was up there. But like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go:

Yes, that's me.  I asked my son to take a photo of me completing an obstacle and he captured me looking insane.

But I was really happy.

No obstacle was so stressful that I felt any real fear. I felt nervous and challenged, which are good things, but I didn't feel fear. And every time I completed an obstacle I felt empowered and ready to tackle the next one. I was learning things about how the obstacles worked and how my body could handle the challenges. So yeah, that photo pretty much preserves how I felt that day.

My husband and kids all got a lot of laughs out that photo, too. I'm such a giving person.

We were not able to finish the whole course because we needed to pick up the younger two from camp. But we loved it so much we cannot wait to go back and do the entire course again. The staff was friendly and supportive and calm. And I'm really eager to take the other two when they are old enough (minimum age is 10). My oldest and I are also eager to take my husband so we can snap some funny photos of him.