Tough Mudder Mt Snow 2014

It's been just over a week since Tough Mudder on Mt Snow and I feel like I'm still processing.   Part of me wants to go back right now.  Mudder was my second OCR (obstacle course race), but a much different experience than my first (last fall we did the Spartan Beast on Killington in VT, my friend and teammate Jen wrote a great post about that here)

This year Tough Mudder New England was 10-ish miles on Mt Snow, snaking all over the mountain with 16(ish?) obstacles to overcome along the way, +3 new obstacles for the Mudder Legion only (those who have completed at least one Mudder prior to showing up to this year's event).

Team That's What She Said (minus Rich, our kick ass photographer)

From the moment we walked up to the start line what really struck me about this race was the team atmosphere. At the Starting line were many groups with matching shirts, buzzing with excitement at the challenge ahead.  Throughout the course you could hear teams cheering their team members on as they got themselves over walls and monkey bars.  The energy was positive and light and it was clear that this was a challenge to get everyone through, over, and across the finish line.

The Obstacles

Kiss of Mud - from what I've seen and read this is an OCR staple, crawl under barbwire through the mud.  I was honestly a little disappointed in this one, after hearing stories of people being blasted with fire hoses at last years event, this crawl was far more tame than I thought it would be.  The wire was low, lots of hydration packs and hats were being snagged, and you were forced to crawl uphill, but the ground was almost completely dry and the crawl surprisingly shorter than expected.  It wasn't bad, but no where near as difficult as I expected.

Glory Blades -  a series of slanted 8 foot walls, strong teammates definitely come in handy at this one - it definitely helps to get a hand to get over these.

Funky Monkey - the infamous TM monkey bars over water, this was one obstacle I was looking forward to, and one I knew I could do as long as I didn't let nerves get to me.  This year the monkey bars were constructed from two 8-10 foot metal ladder-like sections set at an angle to each other so that you start going up an incline and then down the decline to finish.  I definitely let my over confidence get the better of my on the latter half, descending too quickly I almost lost my grip as my body started to swing too much, I lost momentum when I had to stop to control myself, but fortunately managed to make it to the end.  It was great to hear and see teams cheering each other on as they watched their teammates, it was just as exciting to watch everyone as it was to do the obstacle.

Devils Beard - a long heavy fishing net that you have to walk under.  Another great place to have a big team, although when you are short your contribution is minimal.

Mudder Section - a walk through the mud, some downhill and some really slippery, but not an incredibly difficult challenge.

Arctic Enema - When I thought about Mudder, when I planned and trained and maybe even stressed a little, this was one of the two obstacles that truly scared me.  A plunge into muddy ice water, no option but to completely submerse yourself to get under the wooded wall/board in the middle.  I don't swim, not well anyway, water stresses me out, and I am not one to typically enjoy being cold, at all.  I was a bundle of nerves approaching - having to wait 15 minutes or so before we could even jump didn't help matters.  This was both a low and a high point for me.  Despite my fears I jumped in, my head went under, but I was not able to get under that board I came up short, the cold stole my breath, and I panicked.  I heard my teammates yell at the staff to get me out, and they plucked me from the water.  It felt like an eternity, watching Jimmy Ray's GoPro video it was really mere seconds, but now I understand how in panic someone can drown in water that is not over their heads (no I was no where near drowning, I was standing up, the water about chest level, but the panic and cold made me irrational).  I was ashamed, embarrassed and defeated as I walked around the obstacle, and then I was reminded why my team kicked ass - as I was congratulated for trying and hugged and encouraged by my teammates ("Funny story, you went in"), I was no less shaky, but proud of my effort and happy to have such amazing people to run with.

The best pictures of the day came from the enema!!

The Plank -  This was the other obstacle that terrified me, and the only obstacle I completely opted out of.  At this point I was still shaking from the enema and in no way ready to jump 15 feet into water 12 feet deep.  I will say I was impressed by the construction and organization at this obstacle.  There were plenty of rescue divers and crew all around to ensure that every single person got out of the water safely. 

Quagmire - another mud obstacle, in over and through mounds of dirt, surrounded by water and mud.  

Balls to the Wall - a 12 foot wall with a knotted rope to assist on the ascend.  I loved this one!!  I can honestly say I have been training for this very obstacle!! (Thank you Janine and Kevin at Unleashed!!!)  I felt great getting up the wall, although I have to admit getting over was a bit nerve wracking and a little harder than I anticipated, the fear of falling definitely played a role here!!

Berlin Walls - A series of 2 (3 maybe?  can't remember....) 10(-ish) foot walls.  Another great place to have some strong dudes on your team!!

Lumber Jacked - a series of three large logs, 5 feet off the ground, to get up and over.  

Oddly I have no pictures of this obstacle, but more importantly I do have a picture of Smokey the Bear who was there to cheer us on!!

Pole Dancer - The teasers for this obstacle promised a water drop and an adrenaline filled crossing, in reality, most of us could have easily walked through this obstacle with little effort.  (I tired to arm walk across the parallel bars, but my arms were spent and refused to support my weight)

Pete and Jimmy made it look easy

Pyramid Scheme - this was the ultimate team challenge.  A tall wet slippery wall set at an angle, the only way to get up the wall was to build a pyramid or ladder out of your teammates.  I wish I had pictures of my team on this one, we owned it.  Our incredibly strong guys held each one of us up as we scaled the wall one at a time, then formed a human chain from the top down to get each of guys who made up the ladder up the wall at the end.  

Pit Fall - in out over through, mud, dirt water, no big deal.

Warrior Carry  - carry your teammate, half way through switch it up and they carry you.....all down hill.  We got creative on this one :)

Electric Shock Therapy - The final obstacle and another Mudder staple, definitely added for the fear factor, stories of people being knocked down, and even knocked out circulate after each race ("my cousin's friends mother knew someone who was knocked out by the shock...")  People definitely went down, and the shock was no joke, but we all survived. (another great obstacle for photos!!)

That was it, a short hike to the finish, handed our headbands and beers, and we were done!!

Total it took us 6 1/2 hours to complete, but it was not a grueling 6 1/2 hours, but a fun day out with great people.  I can't get over how much we laughed and how much we conquered.  A few of us had very specific goals in mind (the monkey bars, the walls, crossing the finish line) and every single person contributed in some way to the team. 

Over all I absolutely loved this race and will do it again in a heartbeat - I know many of my teammates feel the same way about it (as many of us already bought our passes for next year!!) 


In Her Shoes

This is my daughter Olivia

She turned two in December.

She is my princess, my baby girl.  She is spunky and tough, and so full of joy and love it makes my heart burst every time I hear her laugh.

This is Belle

She turned two last summer.

She is full of spunk and life, she loves her pretty shoes and her Elmo doll.  She has a strong spirit, and fills a room the moment she walks in.  She is that little girl you remember well, even if you've met her for only a moment.

My sweet baby Olivia is currently running around with her Papa, she is probably tearing up the aisles of Target or playing at the play place at McDonalds.

Belle's day isn't going so well

Three days after Christmas Belle was admitted to Hasbro Children's Hospital
Three days after Christmas the doctors told Belle's parents Belle has Leukemia.

Every time I sit and play with Livvy, every time I fight with her tangled curly hair I think of Belle and I think of her mother Melissa.

I wonder how I would handle it if I were in her shoes.  How would I step up?  Would I manage, would I fall apart?

I wonder would anyone stand there with me?  Would friends step up for me?  Would I feel alone in my fight?

I am so happy to call myself a friend of Belle and Melissa, and proud to be a part of a wonderful group of bloggers who has stepped up to raise money and make sure they know they are not alone.

Starting tonight for 48 hours, members of the Rhody Bloggers for Good will be sitting on their backsides to raise money and show our support for Belle and her family.  We are working together to lessen their burden, and, maybe just as important, let them know we are there. 

If you are anywhere within driving distance of Warwick, RI please stop by La-Z-Boy stop in this weekend.  All day Saturday and Sunday, during business hours, there will be activities, raffles, a bake sale, and even a yard sale.

If you can't make it there this weekend, but still want to support Belle's family consider popping onto the fundraising site and making a donation. Every little bit helps.

I don't know what I would do if I was in her shoes, if my baby was sick, but I would like to think that my family, my friends, and my community would stand there with me.


A Long Long Winter

I feel like I'm waking from hibernation.
But it has been far from a long winters restful sleep.
Its like waking from the fog of too much to do
Finding myself  in the midst of the chaos
And seeing it all for the first time in a long time.

All of a sudden it has hit me,
how much I need to do
how much I want to do
how much I've committed to do.

I've chosen a couple of days to stop
To try to quiet my mind
To focus on the necesarry.
There are so many things I want to rush to do
do quick, do now
so many things that will still be waiting for me
and so I'm taking a breath

I am quieting the voices of rush and hurry inside my mind
And doing the best to quiet the ones around me as well.

Dusting off my most personal  space
stretching my fingers
trying to stretch my mind a bit too
and just taking it one step at a time again.

I felt the sun on my face as I drove yesterday
I felt the color seeping back into the world
I felt my energy returning.

For the first time in over a month I opened my blog
A fresh new post, a new page
And I felt the words flow.
At times it was cumbersome
The rhythm unsteady, clumsy
But they came nonetheless
And with them a release
An awakening.


Its About the Meal Not the Food

I'm a little late posting this, but I wanted to give this topic the appropriate time I felt it deserved.

Our latest Mom Before Mom post from Carla at All of Me...Now:
What was your favorite home cooked meal as a kid? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.

The meal I remember most is honestly less about what we ate and more about who sat there.

It was the spring of my freshman year of school and I was already taking a semester off, reevaluating my school choice. I was living with my father in the little caretaker's apartment above the gymnasium at our church.  It was a tiny little one bedroom space with a walk-in closet we converted into my purple bedroom.  Within a mile from our home, our church, was a small conservative bible college/seminary.   My father and I got to know some of these students very well as they would come to the church for work and eventually just for a home cooked meal and a chance to socialize off campus.

Every Sunday my father and I would cook a mammoth pasta dinner, complete with garlic bread and ice cream pie (his original desert creation that was like a little bit of heaven poured into a graham cracker crust).  Shortly after church services were over, as we started the sauce heating and the water boiling,  the regulars and sometimes some less familiar faces, would wander into our humble home. 

The apartment would be warm, no matter what the temperature outside, the smell of garlic and sauce hung heavy in the air on the warmer days.There were far too many bodies for such a tiny space and we would eat at the small table, or while sitting on the couch or floor balancing our plates and cups on what little empty space we could find..  The food was good, it was always good, it was simple, traditional, well cooked, and always finished.

After dinner was done, we would all help to clear the table, the floor, the couch, clean the pots and pans, refill our drinks, and talk.  Some days it was conversation as simple at the latest movies that have come out or what news they had heard from their families at home as the regular 5 were from out of state.  Other days we would have almost heated discussions, sparked by the verses shared or the topics discussed at church that morning.

More often than not I sat on the sideline, mostly watching and listening, only interjecting when I felt strongly about what I had to say.  My father would act as mediator when there was a need, reminding them all that there may be different interpretations but we all agree on the same important core beliefs.  The discussion was heated at times, but there was always respect.

Some days if the weather was nice, some of us would head outside, we would sit and read in the field, play a pick up game of soccer or touch football, or just wander in the sun.  When the weather was less than welcoming we would head down to the gym and play pool or basket ball.  Eventually we would all say good bye as they headed back to the evening service on campus and I got ready for evening service at my church.

This  was such an important part of my life at that time, and in stark contrast to many of the other things I had going on.  I found I would crave that weekly meal.  A gathering of mind and spirit that gave me energy to charge ahead.  I learned how to discuss and disagree with tact and respect.

This Sunday dinner of pasta and bread was not about the food that was shared but about the people who were fed there each week.

WW: Running Feet

I have a serious love/hate relationship with running. Last night going through the pictures on my phone I realized one thing I do love is my post long run feet picture. (I tend to only take the picture on the weekends following a longer run) I've been doing this since I started training for my first half marathon last March. Hopefully I'll just keep adding to the collage!!


Getting in Shape with Fitness Videos from Gaiam TV

Rhody Bloggers

I've always been a fairly active person, and while anyone who has been reading my blog recently knows I am into running right now (currently training to run my third half marathon in March), what most don't know is that I am also a HUGE fan of Yoga and the benefits a regular yoga practice provides for my over all well being.

I started my yoga practice at an amazing local studio, but when I wanted to expand my practice (but saved my pennies) I turned to yoga videos and DVDs, my favorite videos were all produced/distributed by Gaiam.

Fast forward three kids and I am sad to admit my yoga practice was one of those things I gave up.  I miss it, I loved how lean my body became and how good I felt every time I spent my time in my favorite asanas.

Needless to say I was thrilled when Gaiam contacted me to review their new service GaiamTV.  Gaiam TV is the first streaming fitness video subscription service designed to reach those interested in health and wellness, yoga, fitness videos and personal development. With over 2,000 titles, Gaiam TV is like Netflix for health, wellness, yoga and fitness lovers, delivering hundreds of hours of online yoga, Pilates and cardio workouts. Gaiam TV viewers can practice with top instructors like Seane Corn, Jillian Michaels, Mari Winsor, Kathryn Budig and my personal favorite, Rodney Yee.

As a mom of three kids with limited time to do anything for myself, the fact that GaiamTV is online, is accessible 24/7 and can be viewed through my laptop or  smart phone gives me no excuses.  Through their site they even give instructions on how to connect your laptop to your HD TV using an HDMI cable - giving you plenty of options to have a little me time after bed time, during naptime, or in those rare  times the kids are occupied and not demanding anything (I've heard rumors that can happen occasionally)

Rhody Bloggers

Free to Try: Gaiam TV’s $9.95 per month subscription fee allows subscribers to stream unlimited content. The subscription to Gaiam TV is no strings attached; there is no commitment, and members can cancel at anytime. Gaiam TV is offering a free 10-day trial to all of my readers, visit http://bit.ly/GaiamTVActive for
this offer. 

**I have been compensated by Gaiam for my time on this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own.



This past weekend I was fortunate enough to receive a pack of 5 tickets to see Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Get the Sillies Out!  at the Orpheum Theater in Boston.  My original plan was to head up there with the family, but when the 6 year old (often acts like a 13 year old girl) baulked at the idea, I called up my friend (and the mother of Jack's best friend "Ben-ja-Ben") and made a playdate of it.

Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE!: Get the Sillies Out! marks the third tour for the successful Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE! concert series. The first tour, Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE!: There’s a Party in My City!, launched with a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a performance at the White House in 2010. Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE! 2010 tour played to sold out venues in 60 cities. Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE!: It’s Time to Dance! enjoyed repeat success in 2011, energizing audiences across North America at over 120 shows.

I cannot say enough good things about the show - it was incredible!!  It was a big risk for us to take 2 exciteable 4 year olds and my crazier than crazier Olivia, we knew there would be a walk through cold Boston involved, and we would have to deal with one child who falls asleep through everything and another who doesn't sit still....ever!!! It was all totally worth it!!

DJ Lance Rock and the cast did not disappoint.  Jack and Benjamin danced and sang and hugged each other with excitement the entire time.  Olivia spent a good deal of the show on my lap singing and clapping along as well.  They played all the familiars (Hold Still....Wiggle, and There's a Party in my Tummy) and got everyone up and moving.  The ultimate highlight was Biz Markie coming out, not only did he teach us all his Beat of the Day, but also brought a handful of little ones up on stage with him to learn and perform beats with him.

Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Get the Sillies Out!  was a wonderful kids show, geared towards toddlers and preschoolers, it was upbeat enough to keep all the adults interested, and to keep my ever tired Jack awake.

You can check out where Yo Gabba Gabba is playing next and see their complete tour schedule here: Yo Gabba Gabba Tour!


Thankful Thursday

Its a little thing, to take a few moments every Thursday and count my blessings.  In no time at all I can have a list that makes me smile.

Its a little thing, that makes a big impact on my day.  So with my morning break and cup of coffee I'll gladly sit and reflect on all that I have to be grateful for.

  • A new car with heated seats - according to my car it was 3 degrees this morning, fortunately my bum never felt the impact of that as I sat warm and cozy on my drive to work

  • In 8 weeks Dan will be DONE with school.  While he'll still have boards to study for and a little while before he can get a job, I don't care.  The crazy days and night juggling his ever changing school schedule (and paying for it) will be over!!

  • Being able to witness an amazing community come together and support one of their own.  My friend Melissa found out shortly after Christmas that her baby girl Belle (who is 2 1/2) had leukemia.  This past Sunday I went to an amazing charity Strongman competition that was set up for the sole purpose of raising money to help Melissa, Belle, and their family through this difficult time.   To say I was blown away would be an understatement.  To watch these strong amazing athletes gather and lift very very heavy thing for this sweet little girl was inspiring.

  • An wonderful group of friends who share and support each other.  Who come together when a friend (or her husband) are sick, who laugh and joke and encourage each other, and who listen when someone just needs an ear to vent to. 

  • What are you thankful for this week?