Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Gladiator Assault Challenge

One day long ago I was a runner.  I have ran multiple half marathons but after injuries and pursuing different goals running hasn't been a big part of my training.

However I do enjoy obstacle races but have only participated in small ones.  My husband and Traci decided to put a team together for our gym to participate in the Gladiator Assault Challenge.  I was all for it, then I realized it was six miles long with 31 obstacles and on a ski hill.  I went into it not really knowing what to fully expect but I was excited that we had 17 people on our team and knew everyone would be supportive and help one another through the course.

Our group consisted of runners, obstacle race participants and a few first time obstacle race participants.  As with any race there was a lot of excitement and adrenaline before the race began.  To get to the start you first had to walk up the very steep ski hill, no joke I was tired just walking up that dang hill.

Kyle and Traci were keeping me upbeat and excited before the actual start.  We began running back down the huge hill we walked up and went straight over two mud hills that you had to slide down into some cold water.  We got crazy muddy right off the bat and my shoes were so heavy with mud!

At the beginning we all stayed together pretty much running along and having fun in the mud.  Once we hit the timber area with some very steep inclines and muddy trails our group split into about three groups.  Traci, who I know could have just ran that race, stayed with me the entire time.  Encouraging me through each obstacle because there were some that I was simply fearful of.  Kyle would get ahead a bit and then circle back to make sure I was doing alright.  

My fears for this race were climbing over the walls, heights get to me and my biggest fear was going into water underneath a chain length fence and pulling yourself through.  I was fine climbing up the wall but once I was up there fear took over, they were slick with mud and I would freeze wondering if I could do it.  Traci was right beside me at the top guiding me down with Kyle at the bottom cheering me on and reminding me that I could do it.

Of course the final obstacle was the one I feared the most.  I stood there for a few moments contemplating skipping it.  Traci once again was right beside me, encouraging me and I just decided to go for it.  This picture isn't of me, it is one of our members who went through it but this is what it was.

I was actually doing great until I got to the end.  Another competitor accidentally bumped into me and pushed me against the side, I hit my head on the top part of the fence and was stuck for about five seconds.  That five seconds was enough to make me panic, thankfully he realized he had bumped me and he pulled me out.  It was so scary but I did it!!!!

Overcoming my fears was what this race was all about and I did every single obstacle.  It was such an awesome event and having our amazing Kosama team made it one of the best races I have ever participated in.

I could not have done it without the support and encouragement from everyone, especially Traci and Kyle.  Teamwork is what these races are all about for us.  Playing in the mud was fun, I was exhausted by the end but still smiling.

I am the girl who loves to dress up and wear high heels.  Traci is the girl who loves to get muddy and run.  We make quite the team and I know I wouldn't have been able to get through the race like I did without her.  Kyle encouraged me and as usual his belief in me is stronger than my own belief in myself.  

With that race in the books I move forward with my weight training and preparation for the October competition.  We are running the Spartan Sprint in Chicago in June, it makes me nervous just typing that out.  I know it will be tough and the obstacles will be more difficult along with the burpees you do when you can't pass an obstacle.  Traci and Kyle will be there along with other Kosamies and I know we will have fun.

Always believe in yourself, this was an awesome experience with some of the strongest, most supportive people in my life.  I am blessed!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

NANBF Natural Iowa Championships

What a whirlwind of a weekend we had with Traci!  First of all I have to give a huge shout out to Ryan and Mandy Irwin for putting on yet another fantastic show at the NANBF Natural Iowa Championships.  Even with it running a bit behind it was such an awesome experience, I highly recommend this competition for anyone looking to compete in a family friendly, supportive atmosphere.

Traci started training at our gym last summer and approached Kyle about competing.  We were so thrilled to have someone come to us looking for coaching and guidance.  Traci is a runner and a very active person, she runs Spartan races for fun and kills it every time she runs.  When you go into competing, especially at the Figure, Physique and especially Bodybuilding level it is ideal to already have a higher caloric intake and lower cardio output in the beginning to build muscle mass and make your cutting phase easier.

We knew with Traci it would be basically an experiment as she had never competed before, her caloric intake was very low and she was already used to doing a lot of cardio.  She took our advice and increased her calories for a mini bulk the first few months.  During that phase she hit PR's on her lifts, got stronger and put on some pounds.  This process can really mess with your mind, my goal was to be there for her every step of the way ensuring her that the weight gain was ok and it was needed in order to gain muscle mass.

Our training sessions together are always a blast.  To think I met Traci just over 8 months ago and we have bonded like sisters.  From saying the same exact thing at the same moment, to laughing at the same time, having the same eye roll response to Kyle as he tells us just a few more reps or seconds.  This woman has to have been someone close to me in another lifetime.  She pushes me to train harder and taking care of her on this journey was my primary focus even though she also took care of me.

When the competition weekend came I couldn't believe how quickly it was upon us.  Traci had her polygraph, natural competitions always require a polygraph to ensure athletes are not taking banned substances, and her spray tan.  Competition spray tans are nothing like your regular spray tan, they are DARK to ensure the muscles show with great definition under the strong stage lights.  It was kind of a late night but we had fun with her niece Jordyn and my daughter Bella as we went over Traci's mandatory poses and t-walk.

The morning came quickly and we were off to the location, thankfully we got there nice and early to realize I couldn't find the numbers Traci was to wear on her bikini but the promoter Ryan was awesome and took care of that for us.  Talk about feeling like a complete idiot.  Then we headed off to get her makeup done at the host hotel and then it was back to the venue to really get her ready to go.


I was so thrilled to have Chris Goodman with GPS Coaching, Traci's posing coach and my sponsor for my October competition, back stage with us.  She brought a nice level of calm and worked with Traci on her posing and pumping up.  This was my first time working with a competitor and I know on my own personal journey with Chris I will continue to get better and learn so much from her.

Traci was a little nervous but honestly held it together very well.  This is such an incredibly emotional experience for everyone.  You work so hard and when your day to compete arrives you can feel such a massive flood of emotions.  I had to hold back my own tears of pride so I wouldn't make Traci cry :)  Traci went into this for herself, she was proud she went through the process and made it to the stage and she had no expectations of placing.  She did fantastic with her posing, Chris and I were in the audience and Chris would yell her cues.  Yes you can hear Chris and tell the difference of her voice among all the others yelling, she seriously has THE BEST cuing!!!

Traci competed in Figure Novice Tall and Figure 40+ Tall, all of the competitors were amazing, they were some stacked classes!!!  Traci held her poses well, it's tough standing on those heels and gracefully transitioning into the next quarter turn, it takes practice, practice, practice!  How gorgeous does she look???

When they did call outs for top five in Figure Novice Tall and I heard her number I lost it.  I am a loud person and man I could not stop cheering!!!!  Traci earned 5th place in that class and she was shocked!

Afterwards she talked about how we had never practiced what happens when they call out your number for placing and she was right!  She handled it well though and looked so stunning on that stage among the other competitors, each one was just so impressive.

There may be thoughts out there that something like this can have a feeling a cattiness.  Well let me be the first to tell you that backstage all of these women are each others biggest supporters, cheering each other on and feeling genuine joy for each other.  Each and every competitor goes through intense training and the cutting phase can be daunting.  Once you are all together it is like this huge sisterhood and I just love it.

Congratulations to Traci for overcoming so much on this journey, thank you for trusting in Kyle, myself and Chris we couldn't be more honored you chose us.  The only way I can describe my own feelings that day is like this, I felt like a proud momma, I cried when I watched her on stage, I cried when she received her award, it was extremely emotional.

Now we have a mud run this coming Saturday, that is Traci's area of expertise so she will be helping me through it.  Then I continue on with my training for October with Kyle handling my weight training and Chris handling my nutrition and cardio.  I am ready for this part of my own journey and am excited to have Traci as part of it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Stars Aligned

It has been four years since I competed in my last figure competition.  I had a lot of fun doing it and knew that I wanted to continue to compete.  Life had other plans for me.

I suffered some injuries from various things, the big one was IT Band Syndrome after a half marathon.  It set me back big time, our family was going through some struggle, there seemed to be chaos all around me and I let it get to me.  For almost two years I wasn't as consistent with my training and I found myself looking at someone I didn't know and realized something had to change.

My husband had accepted a job as the GM for a gym, Kosama Cedar Rapids and I began to get more involved.  The end result, as we know, was Kyle and I accepting the amazing offer to take over the gym.  In 2016 I really started to get myself back on track.  I was reminded how good it felt to be consistent in the gym and I was learning new things by training with kettle bells and TRX.  Kyle and I were just so thrilled and possibly not fully realizing what it truly meant to take over.  Thankfully we have had the guidance and support of the amazing people who gave us this opportunity, Matt and Heidi.

We hit some bumps along the way, learning who we couldn't truly trust in our business, that there were people who would try to take advantage.  Last year was our most challenging year and honestly there were days I didn't know how to push through.  Myself working a separate full-time job, taking on a position as the Treasurer for a non-profit, trying to become more involved at the gym while also making sure our daughter wasn't feeling left out, keeping up with things at home, and dealing with major personal challenges from a dryer fire in our home to major stressors at work due to uncontrollable changes to finding out I would have to have my right thyroid removed and have nodules tested for cancer and my mom dealing with her own major health issues.  I almost broke.

After getting through the surgery and finding out I did not have thyroid cancer, taking off the time I needed to recover I was ready to get back at it.  One of our new members at the gym talked to Kyle about figure competing.  It was a bucket list goal for her and she asked if he could train her for a May competition.  I met with her so I could fill her in a bit on what it would take to compete.  We instantly bonded and have been training partners ever since.  Traci came into my life when at just the right moment, I was really ready to get serious about weight training again and she was ready to train with someone that would push her.  I set my own goal to compete again in October.

Traci was looking for a posing coach and was referred to a woman that I knew of, Chris Goodman.  I knew she was an NANBF judge and a pro bodybuilder herself.  The first posing practice when we met was awesome, the three of us just clicked.  We decided that the focus would be on Traci for her May competition and then I would get coaching for my October competition.  Traci has come leaps and bounds from where she started and Chris is just phenomenal in how she coaches.  Her cues are spot on and easy to follow, she is so much fun and she is honest.

This past Saturday was Traci's final posing session before her competition this coming Saturday.  Chris and I were chatting about my competition in October and she offered to sponsor me.........I was shocked!!!  Kyle and I did my preps before, he will still be training me but Chris is taking over my nutrition and cardio.  To hand that over to someone else is kind of freeing for me and I am so pumped for this journey with Chris.

I am truly honored and blessed to have this opportunity, thank you to Chris for believing in me and bringing me onto team GPS Coaching!  Now for the hard work and FUN ahead of me.  I have been weight training for 18 years and it is something I truly love, competing is just the icing on the cake for me.  It truly is hard work and takes dedication which is why I had to take the time off that I did.  I am ready and I have the full support of my family, especially my daughter, my friends, and so many who believe in me.