“You think that maybe it’s over
Only if you want it to be
Are you gonna wait for a sign?
Your miracle?
Stand up and fight”
“This is It” – Kenny Loggins

For most people, it seems the third time’s a charm. But it has taken me a little longer. Six seems to be my magic number. For six years I’ve competed at NorCal Masters, and every year, it surprises me in a way I never expect. This year’s preparations were a different struggle, a different surprise. It meant accepting changes I wasn’t especially comfortable with. I knew what was coming; I wanted it – I did it on purpose and went all in. And as much as I saw the results I wanted – more strength, better endurance – I was not prepared for what I saw in the mirror and the number on the scale. As uncomfortable as it makes me to say it, the way my body looks matters to me. And right now, it feels big and like it doesn’t belong to me. I will have to decide whether I want to make it mine or not.

The upside to this new body is that it carried me places two weekends ago that I never thought I’d see. It was stronger – making a 105 pound squat clean thruster feel easy – and it was still fast – letting me take my first place ever in a workout of double under jump ropes, sit ups, and rowing. It allowed me to make it to a final that I was terrified of – so much so, that I almost handed back my scorecard before it even began.

See, that stronger body forgot to bring my mind along with it. I hadn’t learned yet to trust it and I was convinced that a 95 pound bear complex (ask me in person and I’ll explain 😊) was too heavy. That I would fail the lift. Over and over. For eight full minutes. And that – the thought of failing in front of my friends, the ones who believe I am this incredibly strong and confident woman – over and over, was what I was most afraid of. The thought that I couldn’t possibly live up to what people expected of me was overwhelming. I convinced myself that I was afraid of injuring myself. But really, it was the thought that they would see me for what I really was – a fraud – weak and full of doubt – that almost had me quit before I even started.

Those same friends, the ones who I was so afraid of disappointing, are the same ones who convinced me to stay in the final – reminding me that not trying is, well…. Just. Not. Me.

So, with 95 pounds on the barbell, I started in on what I needed to do…just get ONE. I told my judge that my goal was ONE bear complex – one power clean, one front squat, one shoulder to overhead, bar down on my back, one back squat, one behind the neck push press, and finally, bringing the bar back to my shoulders. I just wanted ONE. And much to my surprise, that is exactly what I got. And then I got another. And then another. I could hear my friends screaming and cheering me on and before I knew it, I was on the rig, doing something I KNOW I can do. I moved through the chest to bar pullup/toes to bar combo and moved to the rower. Twelve calories later, I got off the rower and found myself back in front of the 95 pound barbell. One more bear complex later, I finally failed a lift. And suddenly, it didn’t matter. With 15 seconds left, and my shoulders and arms shaking under the weight of the bar, I told my judge I was finished. And when they called time, with tears in my eyes, I hugged my judge and cried on his shoulder. He hugged me back.

I had no idea what place I had taken (I assumed everyone was way ahead of me) and signing my scorecard, I didn’t care. I had just done FAR more than I thought was possible. And I had those friends of mine, who apparently know far better what I’m made of, to thank. They had a cold beer waiting for me the minute I walked off the floor and it was the best beer I’ve ever had. My friends were there, hugging me and telling me how proud they were. And then, about 10 minutes later, I looked at the leaderboard. I started to cry all over again, not believing what I was seeing. I had tied for FIRST in a final workout that I had expected last in.

My friend Tammy hugged me and looked at me with tears in her eyes, and that look reminded me of what I had forgotten – that I will never fail if I don’t try, but I won’t find out what I’m made of either. At the end of the day, I was 3rd overall, just one point shy of 2nd and was so excited to hear my name called on that podium, that I skipped up to collect my prize like a little kid.

I am so very lucky to have friends who believe in me, who see the things I can’t and who push me to be a better me every day. They remind me to stay strong in the most important way – the human way – and to believe in those very things they see that I can’t. I hope that in some way, I can be the person they think I am and be what they are to me. That I can lift them up and convince them to see the things they can’t and that in some way, their life is better with me in it, because I can’t imagine mine without them. I could have ended the day in last and it wouldn’t have mattered – I am surrounded by people who make me feel like a winner every day and I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

“You say that maybe it’s over
Not if you don’t want it to be
For once in your life
Here’s your miracle
Stand up and fight”