Wednesday, 31 October 2012

What's Holding You Back

I know, I's been way too long. In fact, this blog has been two and a half months in the making. I wanted to write about an experience I had at the end of August at Can-Fit-Pro conference in Toronto. Can-Fit-Pro Conference is a 3-day event of workshops, training, and fitness classes that teach and inspire fitness professionals (of which, the fact that I classify myself as a part of, still makes me feel funny) in every aspect of fitness and nutrition.

On the Friday of the conference I set myself up with a great line-up of classes starting with "Piloxing", "JumpSport Power Jump" (think mini-trampoline) and finally an amazing group exercise class called "Indo-Row". I loved them all, but there was something about the Indo-Row class that really captured me. In a nutshell, the class format was similar to a spinning class, but using the indo-row water rower the instructor goes through a series of drills and ends off with a competitive race that engages groups in the class to work together. It amazed me how much teamwork and comraderie you feel with a group of inidividuals that you had never met before. It was truly an amazing class and it the Indo-Row was an amazing machine.

As I had been participating in rec rowing during the end of summer, I asked one of the instructors Josh Crosby, a world rowing champion, if he could give me some critique and feedback. He told me to come back the next day to the indo-row booth and he'd be able to help me out.

Saturday morning started with the largest BodyPump class that I'd ever been a part of. After giving it my all in the classes on Friday, I felt, at best I was working at a 6 out of 10 that morning. I gave a half-ass performance in the pump class.
Once it was over I went over to the convention hall and found the Indo-row team.  When I got there, there was a girl trying to qualify for the "2 Minute Challenge" on the indo-row.  The 2 Minute Challenge is where you row your ass off for 2 minutes. The top 3 men and top 3 women qualify to the finals where the men have to row 600 m and the women row 500m for a prize of $100. After watching this girl on the rower, I had no inclination to even try the 2 minute challenge. She was giving it all she had and came up 75 meters short of the 3rd best time.

I sat down on the indo-row to work with Josh. He showed me a few things, helped my technique a bit, then told me to do the 2 minute challenge. I politely declined saying I didn't think I could. He said, "Of course you can." He hit the start button on my rower and started coaching me through. At this point, I didn't have a choice, and I had a world champion rower coaching me through so I started to give 'er. I mean, who wouldn't give 100% when you have a coach like that right beside you guiding you through the most torturous 2 minutes of your life? My first energy system guided me through the first 30 seconds, I wasn't feeling too bad, but then the minute mark hit. I didn't want to give up. I had an ego on the line. But I was dying. Before 1m 30sec hit, I couldn't see my timer nor my distance any longer, everything started to be blurry and the only thing I truly remember was Josh yelling at me to power through my legs. With more than 15 seconds left, I thought my body was done. I couldn't feel anything, I could barely see anything, but I couldn't stop. You can do anything for 15 seconds, right? Two minutes hit and time was up.

I have never been more exhausted in my entire life. I looked at Josh and while my body regained its supply of oxygen I said coldly, "That wasn't fun." Josh laughed and after replying "Welcome to my life," he said "Look at your distance." I was in the #2 spot on the board. He said, "Do you know who is #1? A medal holding national champion rower." After another two minutes or so, I was able to stand up. I'm not sure if it was an endorphin high, or because I had never been pushed like that, but I turned around, and purchased the indo-rower. (I could spend a whole blog on the buyer's guilt I had when I realized how much I spent without consulting my husband. But, thankfully, I have the most understanding and gracious husband in the world and am now a VERY proud owner of the Indo-row. And yes, I use it weekly).

Though one other person bumped me down to 3rd place sometime during that afternoon, I was still in the top 3 and had to come back at 5 o'clock for the final challenge.

I barely made it through the afternoon. I started the day feeling a 6 out of 10 at best, but after those two minutes, I dropped to a 3 or 4 and never really recovered. I didn't want to do the final rowing challenge, (though I really needed to win the $100 to help pay for the rower I just bought). Around 4 I went over to the booth and told group that I wasn't going to do the challenge. I'd show up, just in case the 4th or 5th person wasn't able to make it and I had to do it. I was out of gas. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to finish the race, that I wouldn't be able to stand up after (or ever again), or worse yet, that I'd puke in front of all kinds of people watching. I didn't want to be that girl that every cheered on "just to finish the race." After all, the #1 and #2 seated girls were both hard-core rowers. My rowing experience had more to do with drinking with your crew after the practice than anything else.

I had made up my mind. I had justified my reasoning and it certainly was valid. I had sprained muscles in my shoulder from an overuse injury that I didn't deal with for 3 months. I had done more hard core physical activity in the past 24 hours then most people do in a whole season. Plus, I still had Sunday to go, and I wanted to make sure there was at least a little left to give for Sunday's classes. These are all very valid reasons I told myself as I justified the reason I was backing out to the coordinators of the challenge.

Then one amazing lady name Doris said to me that she was disappointed that I was backing out. Her genuine concern touched me. It literally cut through my wall of justifications like a knife. And then she said words that have still stuck with me, "I wouldn't want you to miss out on this opportunity..." The opportunity to have a crowd cheering for you, to compete against other athletes, to push yourself to the limit. She said, "How did the last 30 seconds of the two minute challenge feel?" I replied emphatically, "Like Hell."  She said that in the final challenge I would only be rowing 500 meters, which really equates to only 1 min and 30 sec. I said to her that I didn't know if I had even that left to give.

For the next hour I wrestled with my fears. My justifications for not doing the race were completely logical to anyone on the outside. But I knew the real reason why I didn't want to do it. Plain and simple, I was afraid. I didn't believe I could. I was scared I would embarrass myself. I went over and over my reasoning for the next hour.

At 5 o'clock I walked over to the booth and said I would do it. Doris was right, I would've been so disappointed in myself if I didn't attempt the race. As  I sat down on my rower, I was literally shaking in fear and anticipation. As soon as they started the race, my friend Alison was there screaming in my ear. Amongst the cheering I really couldn't hear anything. My eyes had gone blurry. I was giving it everything I had. They tell me at one point I was in the lead (probably due to the insane pace that I started out the race with). As I predicted, my eyes went blurry, my body went numb and it took all I could just to keep going, but I finished the race. I barely could breathe let alone move. I'm sure my heart rate was higher than it had ever been in my entire life. But I finished....and as a bonus, I didn't puke!

They started announcing the times. I finished my 500m in 1minute and 36 seconds. The two other female rowers in the race finished in 1 minute and 35 seconds. The 3 male rowers finished behind us by a few seconds each.

My shock and amazement was overwhelming. They weren't cheering me on to just "finish the race." They were cheering for me to win. As I was flooded with mental emotion to the fact that I didn't think I would be able to keep up, let alone be leading, my appreciation for Doris (who spent the whole race banging on my rower, screaming cheers of motivation) was top of mind. One woman's motivation caused me to face my fears and to learn how strong mentally and physically I really am. I will never forget that moment, and I will never forget her inspiration.

And just for those of you who were wondering. It did kill me. We ended up going for a late dinner that evening where I bowed out early with a splitting headache. BUT...I was up and at it for a 730am class the next morning to get ripped to shreds in a Shockwave class facilitated by Doris and the Indo-row crew. And you know what? When I woke up and did the body check to see what hurting? Nothing did. In fact...I felt amazing.

What's holding you back? What opportunity have you justified your way out of because of fear? What goal do you think you can't reach because of your own limitations? You were created by an infinite God who has no limitations. Don't let your own fears hold you back from taking the most of every opportunity presented to you.

Here's a link to the final challenge done at Can Fit Pro in 2011. It's not my race, but my friend Julia is the second person from the right. Gives you an idea of what the whole experience was like!

Closing comments: Doris, I will be forever grateful for you! And I hope our paths cross again...