In celebration of my upcoming 67th birthday, I’m jumping out of my comfort zone and into the mud! On June 3rd, I’m joining the Dryer Vent Wizard Tough Mudder team to run a 10+ mile military-style obstacle course and raise funds for the Children’s Burn Foundation. Many people have said that, at my age, I am completely mad to do this. However, there is a story behind the madness and some important lessons learned during preparation for this event.
My journey began in December of 2015. At 65, weighing 198 pounds and standing at 5’1”, to say I was chubby would be charitable. My family has a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diverticulitis, and diabetes. Fortunately, I had not yet developed these conditions, but could feel them lurking in the future. So, on December 29, 2015 I woke up, sat up in bed and said, “Enough!”
I decided in that moment to stop eating sugar, white flour, white rice, and to reduce my sodium intake. Why first thing in the morning on December 29, 2015? I don’t know. But I do know that as a wife, mother, friend, business partner, and CEO of Dryer Vent Wizard International, I feel responsible to many people. Being healthy to fulfill my responsibilities is important, and looming health issues drove a sense of urgency.
The first two weeks of my new eating plan were hard. Cravings were intense and extremely distracting. Each morning I had to give myself a pep talk about staying on track for one more day. But, sticking through those first two weeks was worth it. Between December 2015 and August 2016, I lost about 50 pounds and felt great.
At the beginning of August 2016, I joined the Fitness 19 gym in Farmington and met with a personal trainer named Mason for an assessment. It’s funny thinking back to that day. If the assessment had been a test, I might have scored a perfect zero. But, that meant I had nowhere to go but up.
Time to get Tough
In early September, Jason Kapica, the Executive Vice President of Dryer Vent Wizard International, asked if I would be interested in joining him in a Tough Mudder event. Picturing myself trying to climb over a wall or crawl through the mud made me laugh. But, Jason said he was serious and that we could do the event as a fundraising effort for the Children’s Burn Foundation. I still laughed at the idea and told him no, but Dryer Vent Wizard would support his effort to put a team together.
It would be silly for someone approaching their 67th birthday, and having never done a serious physical challenge, to join a Tough Mudder team. I was still laughing.
The next day, I went to the gym for my weekly training session and did more than I had the week before. The glimmer of an idea began. I started thinking about the kids helped by the Children’s Burn Foundation, and the fear they overcome to recover and live their lives. No child deserves the pain, suffering, and ongoing challenges that they face because of serious burns. How sad that I was using my age as a shield for my fear of doing something outside my comfort zone. These children and families need our help. That’s when I quit laughing.
At the end of the session, I told Mason that I was planning to do the Tough Mudder Challenge the next summer. He thought it was a joke, but when I said it wasn’t he said, “OK, we have some work to do.” I went to the office the next morning and told Jason I was in: I would do the Tough Mudder Challenge. He was as surprised as I was! In fact, the look on his face was worth what was ahead for me.
Once I committed to joining our company team, which includes Jason Kapica, Mike Donnelly, myself, and seven friends and family members, the training schedule ramped up. That was 9 months ago. In addition to my daily solo workout routine, my personal training sessions moved from half-hour long sessions once a week to hour long sessions three times a week.
I have gained a completely new appreciation for the dedication serious athletes put into preparing for events. I have been sore almost every day for 9 months, I am exhausted on my rest days, and have struggled with fear disguised as doubt. Nevertheless, every time I waiver, I think about the kids at the Children’s Burn Foundation and push the fear down.
In a few weeks, the Dryer Vent Wizard team competes in the Tough Mudder Challenge. Even if I am the slowest person there, I will do all I can to finish. Even if I can’t conquer every obstacle, I will attempt them all. And, at the end, regardless of the results, I will celebrate doing something far outside of my comfort zone to help someone else. That is a priceless prize to earn.
If you want to get involved in our journey and support the Children’s Burn Foundation, head over to our website. Every donation means the world to the children and families supported by the Children’s Burn Foundation.