adventures of a mere mortal in fitness and life


Me with the Mighty Mac bridge in the background.

We pulled up to our campsite overlooking Lake Huron yesterday evening. The wind was blowing pretty steadily and the waves were large and rolling. I felt that pit in my stomach rise and looked over at Mr. Prepared. I didn’t even say a word because I knew what he would say, which was a variation of the thing people had been saying to me all week long.

Oh, you’ve done such a good job preparing!” or “Oh, you’re such a fish!” Recently in my coaching course I learned that these kinds of assurances are blocks to active listening, and I have been as guilty of saying them as anyone in the past. (And this is not to discount all the good wishes people have sent and said– thank you!) So if you’re reading this far, you’re already a captive audience, so let me tell you how it really is.

Three years ago I started open water swimming. It scared the bejesus out of me. I would swim fifty yards, sprint fifty yards back to the shore, and run out of the water. I realize I swam competitively for most of my life, but always with my safe little rectangular pool with its perfectly clear bottom and black lines. I liked living in that little rectangle, for many reasons too numerous for this post. Open water swimming was scary and uncomfortable. Many days, it still is.

Doing the Mighty Mac Swim is and was a scary, uncomfortable idea. Raising the money when I had about zero local network, planning the training on my own, and open water practice all summer were all things I had to adjust to. These items aren’t in themselves at all amazing- I’m not here to humblebrag or point out the things I do as awesome-but together they represented something that I considered a real challenge-definitely an “outside the box” challenge.

I received a text from a client this morning. It started with, “I know this isn’t exactly a swim across the straits …” and she proceeded to tell me that she had signed up for a workshop I am helping to host in October. For her, this is a challenge well outside her box. And I did a little internal fist pump (everyone does this, right? 😉 ) because I love, love, love watching other people swallow that pit in their stomach and proceed forward anyway.

I love watching others climb their own “Everests” as much as I like climbing my own. And it doesn’t have to be a huge athletic feat or building a business from scratch with nothing. If it’s something that makes you pee your pants a little when you think about it, then it’s a challenge. My first Everest wasn’t even anything athletic- it was a fundraiser for the little nonprofit I worked for in my hometown. Asking people for their money, their talents, and their time terrified me. And the outcome wasn’t all pretty, trust me. But that singular experience significantly impacted how I view the world today. 

Through success and failure, loss and win, we can use those challenges grow us and change us. Whether we view the outcome as good or bad is entirely up to us because “good” and “bad” are totally subjective.

So whatever happens on Monday, this has been an impactful experience. I am so indebted to Eva Solomon, director of Epic Races, for letting me just take over her New Years race to help raise money, for my friends Claudia and Jo who helped me out hugely with my spin fundraiser. I learned enough from those two events alone that even if one of my arms fell off and I couldn’t swim, I would call it a win. 🙂

Shawn Kitzman has been my steady rudder through most of my training and injury/potential injury freakouts. When this guy tells you he loves working with athletes, you best believe him. He is cool under that kind of pressure, and he matches your passion for what you’re doing perfectly. Plus, he’s become my friend and that’s an awesome gift in itself.

Shawn led me to Darilyn Doddy, who has been coaching all of my strength stuff this summer when I decided I wanted to elevate my game. She’s the perfect antidote to my “sky is falling” moments because she keeps me focused and she can yell really loudly over the mind chatter. No, seriously, she is really experienced and good at what she does, personally with lifting and professionally as a strength coach. Again, having this experience alone would have been worth the journey.

Meeting so many great people online and at Mighty Mac camp was fantastic. The support team for this event went above and beyond because they have true passion for their mission of supporting affordable housing in Michigan.

I am so, so grateful to be part of this event and to have this experience. I hope I can live up to the hype and finish the journey on Monday. But whether I do or not, I’ve gained so many valuable gifts along the way, I’ve already climbed this Everest in my mind.

Will keep you posted after the swim!


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