Masochist: pleasure in being abused or dominated : a taste for suffering.
After completing my first Tough Mudder, I was brought tears. Tears of joy. Tears of accomplishment. Tears of knowing all my hard work helped me complete something many people can not and will not do. I also felt like I never wanted to do that again. I took a week off from the gym (I usually go between 3 and 5 times a week) and about a month later, I got over it. I was ready to test myself again and decided to make Tough Mudder an annual event.
Tough Mudder 2012, came rolling around and both my wife and I signed up. To me, it’s a great event for my wife and I to grow closer. Sure a movie and nice dinner is intimate, but it will never compare to running through live electrical wire together.
Unfortunately for us, my wife suffered a back injury that required about three months of rest and physical therapy. As a restul, I had to run Tough Mudder 2012, on my own. I also had to transfer her registration to another race. After looking at the schedule, we chose to go out of our area and make a weekend of it, we chose Miami. It was just three months after the last 2012 race of the year, plenty of time to get ready.
We made all the arrangements and headed down to Miami…well, Homestead if you want to be technical. In central Florida, where I’ve ran all my previous races, races are typically in cow pastures filled with grass, dirt, mud and water (and cow shit). All fairly soft and forgiving terrain. Up until this point, my 5 finger Vibram shoes had worked beautifully. They’re a good snug fit on my foot, obviously very light, and don’t get weighed down with mud and water. They are my so called weapon of choice. We’ve all heard the saying live by the sword and die by the sword, well this time, I died by the Vibram.
The race took place at the Miami Speedway. Outside of the race track, the entire terrain is filled with small and large coral rock, like gravel. When I say the entire terrain, I mean it. If you’ve never ran in Vibrams, let me tell you that you can feel everything that you run on. If it’s nice smooth grass or dirt, no problem. If it’s coral rock, problem. One of my wife’s relatives said it best, “boy your feet are going to feel like they got hit with a meat tenderizer”. He was pretty spot on. My feet still hurt about a week later.
Other than the terrain, the entire race was awesome. It beat the hell out of my body. The Devil’s Beard obstacle (crawling under a large cargo net) was uphill, Kiss of Mud (crawling through mud under barbed wire) was crawling through mud…filled with freaking coral rock. The weather was another obstacle I had not experienced before. It was cold and windy, not what you would expect from Miami. I’m not sure if Tough Mudder included extra water obstacles because they anticipated it would be warm or if it would be cold. None the less, it kinda sucked. I literally think I was starting to suffer some onset of hypothermia. I was shivering and my teeth kept involuntarily chattering.
My cardio felt pretty good. My wife and I kept up a 4 minute run to 1 mile walk ratio. That kept us in pretty good shape and I feel kept my muscles from getting too sore. At about the 7 mile mark, I had to walk more often. Not because I couldn’t run, just because every time I ran I would get cold and my feet would hurt.
Once we got near the end, we had two obstacles left. Like every Tough Mudder we needed to run up the half pipe known as “Everest” and then finally, run through the “Electroshock Therapy”. As we approached the live electrical wire, we could see the volunteers holding our medal; the Orange headband of greatness. As I stood there, I started to reflect on my desire to complete such races. I was tired, my body was bloody and wet, and to top it off, I was about to voluntarily subject myself to electric shock. The word, Masochist, started to come to mind. Granted it’s not in the same realm of 50 Shades of Grey, but I’m starting to think there’s something wrong with me. Why would I do this to myself? Why would I subject myself to such abuse all in the name of health? How does that make any sense?
I start to run and the nerves instantly go away. It’s all about self preservation, while getting shocked of course. As the last wire is removed from my face, my thoughts are no longer completion. My thoughts instantly turn to one of the lines in Tough Mudder’s motto: “no mudder left behind”. The mudder in question is of course my wife. I look back and she’s face down in the middle of the wires. She raises her head and realizes she’s lost her shoe. The 6″ high mud is flooded with deserted footwear, almost to the point of adding to the degree of difficulty. She grabs what she thinks is hers, takes a few extra shocks for her actions, and makes it to her feet with success. We embraced, kissed, and walked hand in hand to retrieve what we both came here for, the Tough Mudder headband.
It’s funny how much pride came be placed on such a silly object, an orange headband. I now have three!. I take tremendous pride in every scrap, scar, bump, bruise and shock I incurred along the way. I often become sick with the overall laziness of our society; however, in my case, cystic fibrosis doesn’t allow me to be lazy. While CF is my sickness, it is also the source of my motivation. If I’m lazy, I get sick. If I get sick, I can die. It could take a long time or a short time to get there, so I prefer put it off as long as I can. It’s pretty easy to understand why I train, why I run, and why I annually subject myself to electroshock therapy. It not only aids my physical health, it keeps my alive, in every sense of the word. Oorah
My first mud race took place in June 2011. It wasn’t the greatest race, but at the time, I didn’t know any better. The only thing I knew about mud races was from a tv show segment. Fast forward to February 2nd, 2013, and I have now completed 8. My family started to catch on. After my first race, my beautiful wife wanted to join in. Then, my brother joined me in our first Tough Mudder. Now, my (soon to be 60 years young) mother decided to take on the challenge.
Not only do I frequently participate in local mud races, I also talk to directors of races and follow many races on facebook, twitter, and on their personal websites. There’s a pretty good chance I have some connection to mud races on a daily basis. Some races have been fantastic, some races have been a let down, and some races have been nothing more than an apparent cash grab in an exploding market. I didn’t want my mom’s first mud race experience to be a dud, so I choose one of the biggest and most popular races around; Warrior Dash.
Surprisingly, Warrior Dash is the only race that put on in my local area. Every other race, but one 5k, I’ve had to leave the county to mud it up. I’ve also never ran it, so it was a bonus for me as well.
Soon after signing up, we all decided to take the opportunity to dress up and go as characters. The theme? Star Wars. Initially, I thought I’d dress up like Yoda, but made the cray decision to go full make up and rock the Darth Maul makeup. I already shave my head, so I figured the make up wouldn’t be all that difficult. To my surprise, I thought I did a decent job; especially for never doing make…ever.
As the day was upon us, everyone was pretty stoked. My mom seemed excited, my wife just recovered from a back injury and was ready to test herself, and I’m was ready to see what Warrior Dash had to offer.
Every body looked great! (While my wife was not in costume, she always looks great). My mom was sporting the Princess Leia hairdo, My brother was Darth Vador, and very appropriately his son was young Luke Skywalker (with Yoda). While we didn’t hang around for the costume contest, there’s no doubt in my mind we would have one.
As our race time neared, all the runners in our wave were corralled in to the starting area. My mom was expectantly nervous as were many other first timers that surrounded us. The gun went off, the Warrior Dash fire was ignited, we ran (we’ll we started to, but many times there’s so many runners all huddled up, it’s almost like herding cattle to get onto the race way).
While I always like to have as much fun as possible at mud races, I’ve always had one rule that I run by: “If I’m gonna fail, I’d rather look nice than dressed up like an idiot”. (When I mean fail, I mean at specific obstacles or hobbling off due to injury). Fortunately, I was able to keep a steady pace and successfully completed most of the obstacles. I did find it much more difficult to run with a cape, especially one that’s soaking wet. One positive however was that the wet cape kept my nice and cool on a very hot day in February in Florida.
We all completed the race without a hitch. Everyone did great. We grabbed our free tees, medals, and beers. We laughed, discussed the coarse, described the challenges and any difficulties. It was a great time to spend with the family. A new experience to drop in my mental family album.
Going to Disney World can be great, but helping your mom get over a 6 foot wall and watching her complete some obstacles that cause difficulties for those 30 years her junior, can be compared to It’s a Small World. That’s what mud racing can do for anybody. It’s human nature to find pleasure in completing tasks, mud racing provides that. The sense of accomplishment is just as tasty as the free beer at the end of every race.
It’s now been almost a full year since my first Tough Mudder, a 12 mile 20+ obstacle mud run. I’ve been going to the gym now, pretty steadily, since August 2010. Obviously, working out, lifting weights and overall exercise pays huge benefits for those with cystic fibrosis. Still, many people ask me why I enjoy and decided to subject myself to crawling through the mud and sometimes running through live electrical wire. My answer is always the same. I look at exercise like studying for a test or spending time hitting a baseball in a batting cage. What’s the fun in studying or practicing if you don’t put your skills to the test? For me, my annual test is Tough Mudder. For the most part, every other race I participate in is practice or “mid-terms” for my end of year finale.
Every body in the mudder community has their favorite race and is critical against “other races”. For me, it’s no different. Tough Mudder is “my” race. Yes, in pretty much every race there’s running, climbing, and crawling through mud. There can also be long lines, problems with parking, disappointments and headaches. For me, there’s just something that sets Tough Mudder apart. I feel a connection to the race. For me, Tough Mudder is my Mt. Everest. Sure, I could find a different or more challenging obstacle to over come, but Tough Mudder still “gets to me”. Whether it’s saying the Tough Mudder oath or cowering through live electrical wire or even writing this blog, it’s hard to fight back the tears of accomplishment.
Every Tough Mudder event starts with the oath. I enjoy and embrace the comradery. Sure, it’s gotten to a point in every mud race that you help out other runners when needed. Still, Tough Mudders just seem different. The race has a certain “glow” to me. For me, growing up with cystic fibrosis, I feel like “if I can finish Tough Mudder, I can accomplish anything”.
That being said, I was truly felt prepared for this race. My cardio wasn’t at its peak, but I was ready none the less and I still felt strong. Unlike last year, I was healthy. I employed my newly found run/walk (4:1) strategy (Run 4 minutes, rest 1 minute. The point is to rest before you need it and have plenty of energy to finish strong. After many miles, the time evens out as if you ran it all, but I feel much better at the end). I used a camelback for the first time (a small Gatorade filled bladder that’s carried inside a small backpack, kinda looks like an IV bag in a backpack). I also brought 3 protein/energy bars with me to eat during the race. Last year during the 11+ mile race, we were on the course for well over 4 hours, granted a lot of that time was due to long lines at obstacles, it was still a long time on the course. This year I wanted to make sure there were no hold ups, no cramps, no hunger pains, etc. I also decided to run on Sunday as opposed to Saturday. There’s far less runners on Sunday. All the strategies paid off. I walked before I started to feel tired to help conserve energy for the finish, I drank before I started to feel any sign of a cramp, and I ate at designated times to help with my overall energy level. Most importantly, there wasn’t any wait at any obstacle.
The race went well. While an injury prevented my wife from running, I ran solo. Granted, I would have loved to ran with my wife, my brother, or friends, I can’t deny that I enjoyed running alone (with the exception of the other thousands of Tough Mudders that ran around me).
When I go out and exercise alone, I almost feel a sense of enlightenment. You’re out there alone. No one to bother you. No worries. No real fears. No work. No stress. No egos No screaming, or driving, or yelling, or nagging, or bullying. Just peace. It’s just me and my mind. I feel free. I feel in control.
In this event, the runners almost form their own society. A society in which your common man or woman actually cares about the person next to them.
The race consisted of running and crawling through mud, monkey bars, underground tunnels, crawling under live electrical wire, running up a half pipe, climbing over 9 ft walls, carrying a large piece of wood, and the grand finale of running through the electrical wires. I cracked my shin open after jumping in the ice bath, but overall I felt great throughout the 3+ hour race. I still felt pretty good the next day, no real soreness.Each person not only accepts the responsibility of helping each other, but also looks for opportunities to do so. A few times during the race, probably about 2/3’s of the way through, I needed to clean the mud out of my shoes. More than a few mudders ran by and asked me if I was ok. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I would have needed it, two mudders would have picked me up and helped me to the finish. Not only was the help in abundance, but there was also a pure sense of joy that filled the air. Some mudders lost a lot of weight and wanted to take on the race. Some mudders completed using crutches. Some were even missing limbs. And some…well they were telling cystic fibrosis, “Not today my friend, today is my day”.
Looking back, I’m glad that Tough Mudder comes to Florida at the end of the year. It helps signify the end of the year. It’s right before my birthday. It’s right around my annual doctor appointment. It’s the culmination of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Not just hard work in the gym or the perseverance of running another mile. It’s keeping a positive mind, fighting off infection, taking my medication, listening to my doctors…its doing what’s necessary to stay healthy. If cystic fibrosis has taught me anything, it’s that you should not take anything for granted. A year of life is a powerful thing. It’s a privilege; it’s not to be wasted. Tough Mudder helps me remember that.
On November 17th, 2012, a date I’ve been waiting for, for a long time. Just minutes prior to my first Tough Mudder race (2011), I heard about a race called: Run for Your Lives. A mud obstacle race, in which the runners are chased by zombies. I felt like it was created with me specifically in mind. I love mud races and I love anything with a zombie in it.
A few days later, I checked out the website: . The promo video was awesome, I was totally hooked. Unfortunately, my excitement was quickly turned to disappointment as there was no scheduled race for Florida. Then, March rolled around and the race had been scheduled.
In Run for you Lives you can register to be a runner or a zombie. Registering to be a zombie comes with some sweet perks (perks you will definitely earn). First the zombie registration is considerably cheaper, you get free parking, and you can run the race before or after you zombie shift. I obviously chose to be a zombie so I could experience the race in its entirety.
Now that I registered, I patiently waited for the November race to come up. During that time, I took down both Hog Wild and Sqwish Squash Challenges. Finally the day I had been waiting for arrived, Saturday, November 17th. Since the race was right after Halloween, I decided to run in my Shaun of the Dead costume. I pieced the costume together with clothes from Wal-Mart, so I didn’t mind getting them ruined.
I arrived at the course site with ease. Parking was a breeze, registration was a breeze, then came the make up. A the race, they have a full staff to give you clothes if needed, tear up the ones you have, as well as apply the make up. My clothes were super cool, so I quickly made it to the makeup area. The first girl applied some zombie foundation makeup, stage two applied some liquid blood and some head wounds, stage three…well they just threw liquid blood all over you. Zombie transformation complete!
Now, I was ready. Just before entering the course, I was given very specific instructions. Each runner wears a flag football style belt with three red flags. The flags represent their “life”. Each zombie’s task is to take their “life” by pulling the runner’s flag. Once all the flags are gone, the runner is “dead”. The runner can still finish the race, but doesn’t qualify for any awards…or so they say. Each runner go the same shirt and same medal, regardless if they finished dead or alive. If a zombie felt so inclined, they could give a runner a life pack/flag. There are two types of zombies: stumblers and chasers. You can probably guess the difference. You can also probably guess which one I was…chaser!
When I signed up, I was told I would be given food and drink for the zombie apocalypse. That amounted to two bottles of water and a rice crispy treat. (Not to self, bring plenty of snacks next time). On my own, I brought a protein bar and some crackers, it wasn’t enough. I entered the course after a few waves of runners had already started. I placed my bottles of water on the ground and began to design my strategy. All of the zombies were placed in to groups. Each group had to stay in a specific zone, we couldn’t just continually chase a runner and we couldn’t chase any runner into an obstacle. My zone was probably about 50-60 yards (I really have no idea). It also doglegged left up a slight incline. My shift was around 11:20 – 2:30.
Chasing runners as a zombie was probably the coolest athletic experience of my life. It didn’t come with the self of accomplishment like Tough Mudder, but it was definitely the coolest.
I frequently allowed runners to run by me, thinking was a slow “stumbler”, after they got a false sense of security and slowed down (some of them even walking), I came chasing! I could then easily pull the life of an unsuspecting runner. This pretty much happened all day. After the first two hours, I was starting to get pretty drained. The lack of food and the countless sprints up an incline to chase runners started to take it’s toll. Needless to say, there was no quit in the CF Ninja and I proceeded to reign terror. Once my shift was over, I tore through my peanut butter crackers, sucked down another bottled water, waiting about 45 minutes and got in line to take my chance at running the zombie gauntlet.
While I was extremely tired, I wanted to push myself as much as a could to see how ready was for my 2nd Tough Mudder, which was coming up in a few weeks. I also didn’t want to waste the chance to see the entire course. As a zombie I could only see my zone and a little bit of the zone after. If you decide to run this race, understand the obstacles are not really meant to push you to your limits like Tough Mudder, Savage Race or Spartan Race. Run for your Lives is a race for fun, and that’s exactly what it was, FUN.
The course was about three miles and contained a few obstacles. There was a sweet water slide, a walk through a small maze/haunted house, and a crawl under an electrified fence. One of the more unique obstacles forced the runner to crawl into a small opening in a wooden makeshift shed. Inside it was dark, really dark. I could only see about 6-8″ in front of my face. The room was filled with white smoke which loosely camouflaged hanging live electrical wires. Fortunately, my cystic fibrosis has allowed me to stay pretty skinny. Therefore, I was able to maneuver around the wires shock free.
If I had just ran the race, I probably would have been pretty disappointed. While some of the obstacles were unique and fun, there just wasn’t many of them. Obviously the theme of the race is zombies, so the hoards of zombies were the main reoccurring ”obstacle”. I had a lot more fun chasing runners as a zombie, and with the discounted price and ability to run the race as well, it was a zombie eating “no-brainer”.
During the next three months, I’ll run three different races for a combined 23+ miles:
8 miles in Sqwish Sqwash Okoberfest, a Zombie filled 5k called Run for your lives, and of course 12 miles of Tough Mudder.
I’ve already run Sqwish Sqwash and was greatly disappointed as you may have seen in my previous post. I don’t think I’ll be disappointed again before the calendar year turns to 2013. See for yourself. Below are videos for both of my next two races. I’ll be a dressed and made up as a zombie in Run for your lives, I then get to run the race. This will be my second Tough Mudder. Let’s just say I’m super pumped. Here’s to staying healthy!!
On October 13th, 2012, I participated in my 6th adventure race.
The race was described to be a challenging mud race like I’ve never seen before. Let’s just say it wasn’t. The race was 8 miles. That was one of the few bright spots of the race for me. I’m signed up for my 2nd Tough Mudder (December 2nd) and figured an 8 mile race would be a great test to see where my endurance was at, as Tough Mudder is 12 miles. Needless to say, I was able to power through the obstacles, and with help from an energy bar my friend brought along, I was able to tackle the 8 miles pretty well. The use of my newly discovered run/walk ratio technique, I was able to maintain my energy level through the entire race. My only difficulty came from muscle failure, that’s great news for a CF’er. Like an idiot, I worked on squats at the gym a few days before the race. I wasn’t fully recovered by race day.
Aside from the distance, Sqwish Sqwash was a huge let down. While they had some interesting and unique obstacles, may of them were poorly constructed and appeared to be a safety hazard. Fortunately for the Ninja, I was in pretty good shape and completed all the obstacles…with one exception, the balance beam. I suck at balance beam. It also proved to be more difficult in regular tennis shoes as opposed to my typical 5 toe’d Vibrams.
The t-shirt was dull and boring; however, the finishing medal is probably the coolest I’ve earned. They took lots of pics and they were all free to download. As with any race, I still had a good time. I love race day, I love the people, I love to compete, and I love to finish. I just wish the course itself was a little more pleasing.
As a result of my total disappointment with the race and organization, I’ve decided to stick with race organizations I’ve either already run and enjoyed or have a national following.
That about covers it. I have two more official races before the end of the year and one fun practice race in a few weeks. If I include the practice race, that will give me 10 races this year (my goal was 12). ”Not bad for a kid growing up with CF”
On July 21st, 2012, I participated in my 5th adventure run when I completed in the Hog Wild Mud run.
By the time the race day hit, I was on day 12 of my antibiotic. Coming off a cruise and a sickness, I wasn’t exactly in the greatest condition. I don’t like to make excuses, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade.
We arrived for our 10am wave around 9:20. Typically it’s good to be there around an hour early, but I’ve never waited more than 10 or 15 minutes to get my registration packet and goodies. When we arrived we were hit in the gut with a quick dose of “you should have been here two hours ago”. The line for registration was completely and totally inexcusable. I’m typically not one to criticize, but it was utterly ridiculous (that’s what my wife would say).
After nearly an hour and half, we finally got our packet. We stood in the hot sun far too long and were totally drained. Those who make a habit out of running and exercising form a routine around proper nutrition and hydration. Example: about an hour before a I work out, I down a bottle water and a granola/protein/energy bar of some sort. That way, when I’m ready to put my feet to pavement (or mud), I’m ready to go. After a 90 minute wait in the sun, I was tired, dehydrated, and starting to get hungry; it was about 11:40 by this time.
We had a quick bathroom break, got our gear ready and headed to the start line. The last thing that I’ll complain about the race was the start line. It was un-manned, un-marked, and pretty much just a line. In comparison, at Tough Mudder, you now have to scale a wall just to get into the starting area, then recite or yell the entire Tough Mudder oath, while listening to Eye of the Tiger. Quite the contrast!
That all being said the race itself was great. The race was around 3 miles and included quite a few new and interesting obstacles, my favorites being the inverted monkey bars and a walk through waist high water up stream. Other obstacles included scaling walls by a rope, climbing dumpsters, swimming, carrying a sandbag, and of course, crawling through mud. After about the first 1 ½ miles, my body was pretty spent. I was drained from the sun (the antibiotic’s increased sensitivity to sun exposure probably didn’t help either). I wasn’t able to get in and complete a good training regiment before the race, and just couldn’t keep up with the running. It was kind of weird. My cardio felt ok, my muscles didn’t feel fatigued, I was just simply drained. Outside of the registration snafu, I really had a fun time. They even had a small kids mud race for my son (now recovered from his cold) to run. It was free, and he ran it at least 5 times
It’s funny how much an antibiotic can slow you down (at least that’s what I’m blaming). While the antibiotic was clearly necessary for me to get over my sickness, my ability exercise was directly sacrificed. I ended my antibiotic about three days later and was back in the gym. My energy was back up and I’m starting to regain my overall strength, I’m down to 185 lbs on the bench from 205. I’m also working hard to put back on the weight I lost. Most people would probably be thrilled to drop 5-10 pounds. For me, it’s loosing something that can not only benefit my lung function, but also something I worked incredibly hard to put on.
This was the first time in nearly 6 months that I needed to be placed on an antibiotic. Here’s to another 6…then again, lets make it at least seven. I have Tough Mudder round 2 in December. HOORAH!
It’s hard not to get caught up in the sadness that often comes with being sick. When sickness sets in, feelings of inadequacy and drops in self-worth often follow. Those with cystic fibrosis, deal with this far too often.
Last week I started an antibiotic for the first time in six months. To me, that’s outstanding. To those with far more severe cases of CF, it would be a blessing. To those who have never dealt with a sickness that can last for weeks or months, it’s meaningless.
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Cliché, I know. It’s easy to say and difficult to truly understand. When its a few dollars; sadness and anger can last for a few minutes. When it’s your voice, your health, or your identity, it can be unmanageable. While I “only” get sick enough to require antibiotics a few times a year, I deal with this “cliché” every time it happens. With the potential that cystic fibrosis may one day kill me, always hanging over my head, I think about this “cliché” almost daily, regardless of health. While being sick is terrible, it helps me understand what and who is truly valuable and meaningful to me. It’s like a friendly reminder, a reminder I get a few times a year. That way, it’s not like a frying pan to the face when something tragic happens.
At one time or another, being sick has killed my desire to run, work, wake up, fight, or even sometimes live. I remember sitting in my bed late at night, alone and coughing. Coughing so hard it would cause an unbearable headache. I’ve looked up at the ceiling and asked for CF to just take me, to end it, I’m tired of fighting. I’ve felt helpless, I’ve been helpless.
Then I just get tired… and angry. A transformation begins. I’m tired of being tired…of coughing…crying…whining…complaining…bitching…moaning. I’m tired that I let something I dislike so much, control me. I’m tired of losing. I’m tired of sitting on my ass. I’m tired of not being able to do anything. I start to fight back. I don’t care if I’ll fail miserably. I just start doing things. I go to work, I get sent home to rest. I go to the gym, I last about 5 minutes. I go to sleep, and do the same thing again the next day. I go and go and go. I keep trying. Sure, the rest would be great for my coughing, but I have to continue to try for me. I don’t do anything reckless, I just do things, anything to remind myself that I’m not useless. I refuse to give in. My stubbornness takes over, and I like it. I accept the help around me, I take my meds, I get off my lazy ass.
Sadness and anger are two natural feelings. Allow them to show their faces, find healthy ways to release them. But don’t let them linger. Give them their time, but when their time is up, it’s up.
While I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a great support system of friends and family, it takes both support and inner strength to get back on your feet.
Two of my favorite boxers of all-time are Mike Tyson and Arturo Gatti. Tyson was an absolute wrecking machine until February 11th, 1990, when he fought, and lost to, Buster Douglas. It wasn’t only Buster that beat Mike. He lost because of two things. Mike lost his desire to fight and he tried to do it all on his own. He lost his mentor, and then he pushed away his best trainer. His new training staff was unprepared and kept telling him everything would be ok. He then proceeded to get his ass handed to him.
I refuse to ever let that happen to me. I hate the look on Tyson’s face as he tries to put his mouth piece back in his mouth while he staggers to his feet. I never want to look like that. (I once took a pic of myself while at my “sickest”. It was to remind me what I didn’t want to look like again. I also drove myself to the doctor that day and found joy in watching a meaningless baseball game while I waiting over 4 hours for a picc line to be shoved into my vein).
I like to personify everything around me. To me CF can take on a physical form. My fight is probably best represented by how the Great Arturo “Thunder” Gatti fought. He’d go out and get his ass beat, he’d fight back, and knock his opponent out. He once knocked a guy out while both of his eyes were nearly swollen shut. Thunder fought his heart out. Gatti is my immune system and my will. His opponent is my sickness or CF. His training staff, my antibiotics and support system. You have to take on the heart of champion, a lion. At the same time, every boxer needs a training staff. Every CF’er needs help. Needs support. When a boxer’s training staff doesn’t work, he makes changes. When antibiotics don’t work, there are changes. If further preparation or treatment is needed, you adapt, you move forward. Ultimately, you have two choices. You can either sit on there, feel sorry for yourself and let your opponent who is trying to kill you succeed, or you can get up off that stool and bring the Thunder. Refuse to give up, embrace what can make you better, and fight like a warrior.
I refuse to show up unprepared when the sickness comes knocking. I use the awareness I’ve learned over the years to my advantage. I update my doctor when a possible turn for the worse approaches and, in the meantime, I continue my normal regiment of medications. I stay prepared. While the sickness may knock me to the canvass like a right hook to Arturo’s face, I’m always there to counter back with a dose of fuck you to CF’s groin! I refuse to give in, I refuse to feel weak, I refuse to let CF overtake me.
When you start an exercise routine, you want to set goals. Whether it’s to loose weight, run faster, or increase your bench press. Goals are good. They keep you motivated and can help keep things fresh. If you’re like me, you also constantly compare yourself to others. It’s not a jealousy thing, it’s just human nature. You want to see what others look like and see what works for them. Just like comparing my lung function tests to others, I compare my bench press or curl numbers to others as well. When I sit down at one the cable machines and see what the weight was set out before. If it’s at a lower weight I feel good; if it’s at a higher weight, I see a challenge. When I think of who I’d ultimately “like to look like”, the first person that immediately comes to mind is Bruce Lee. He’s a smaller dude, I’m a smaller dude. He’s a badass martial artist, I’m…well a CF Ninja and at least own boxing gloves, soem striking bads, and watched a lot of Lee’s movies. Most importantly, he’s also representative of a goal that will take a ton of hard work and dedication to achieve. I’m not even sure if I have that dedication (or time…or genetics) to reach such a goal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t continue to try. As Bruce once said: “A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at.”
Some time this week I challenge everyone who reads this (whenever your read this), to set some fitness goals, set a schedule, and get out there.
P.S. Not only do I fight cystic fibrosis on a daily basis, I also had back surgery when I was about 19 years old (I also went to the gym the day before surgery, because I didn’t know when I would be able to go again. I took about ten years to get back into my routine, but that’s life). I got motivated to right this quick post because just yesterday, I hurt my back a little (nothing searious, really just muscle soreness) while performing an exercise very similar to the one Bruce performed when he seriously injured his back. (There’s a difference bewtween “hurt” and “injured”.) I’m not sure if that makes me incredibly stupid or incredibly awesome. I’ll choose the latter. Good luck achieving your goals because: “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough: we must do.” – Bruce Lee