The Middle of the Beginning

I believe my journey began on March 21, 2010.  I was in grad school and living overseas in Rome.  I had organized a group of my fellow graduate students to participate in the Roma Fun Run 4K, which coincided with the Rome Marathon.  We gathered early that Sunday morning on campus and happily made our way to the starting line in front of the Coliseum. Thousands of people were there to watch and participate on this chilly but sunny spring day.

Up until that point, fitness was not a big part of my life.  It was something that was purely a secondary thought. My activity level fluctuated over the years and I had really stopped competing in any formal manner back in high school when I was on the swimming team.

But there on the cobbled streets of Rome as we waited for the starting gun, my friend Robin said “Let’s run!” Caught up in the energy and excitement of the day, I said “Yes!” And we did. I wasn’t very fast but I ran through the course, past old churches and ancient relics and brass bands and countless onlookers. When we got to the finish line, I was elated.

Something had changed. My inner-athlete was awakened.

Since then, I took up running and moved back to the United States to find a job and be near family in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I participated in some 5Ks and then, in July 2011, I was introduced to CrossFit.

Over the last 2+ years, I have been an active member at my CrossFit gym. I have done things that I never imagined I was capable of or would have pursued as my younger self. Push-ups, pull-ups, squats and sit-ups became the norm. Weight-lifting now was something I regularly discussed and took part in. And those 5Ks evolved into completing 10Ks and two half-marathons and three Tough Mudders.

Fitness is now a passion and it has changed my outlook on life. I am focused on what I eat, what I drink, how I move and how I sleep. I am constantly seeking out help and advice. And my free-time has gotten me off the couch and into indoor rock-climbing and stand-up paddle boarding and yoga and more.

But now I am at a precipice.

This weekend I watched a group of my coaches and fellow athletes compete in The Granite Games, a three-day CrossFit competition in St. Cloud. It was truly inspiring and amazing to see them put everything on the line and succeed. Secretly, I wanted to be out there with them.

One of my friends at the gym, Alice, was there competing in the women’s team division. Catching-up with her between her events, she told me about Freeze Fest, a one-day co-ed team competition in St. Paul in February. She said that I should participate and be on a team with her in the scaled division.  I said, “Yes!”

And so here I am at 31 years old beginning my training to truly compete. Not just to participate and cross the finish line, but to compete and win.

Over the past few years I have witnessed a complete overhaul in my daily routine and habits, all for the better.  Without hubris, I am in the best shape of my life. But I could be even better. I have lots more to learn and more goals to reach.

In CrossFit, the term “goat” is something you hate doing or suck at, or both. I have never truly put myself in the “ring” in life. I am not overly aggressive and I tend to avoid confrontation. Competing is my “goat” and it’s time to meet it head on.

Let’s begin.