When did Challenge become a four letter word?

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I’ve encountered a lot of people who do not like a challenge. Instead of accepting something will be hard and challenging, they shy away.

It is really frustrating.

Not only is it frustrating, but I am generally surprised at some of the people who stay in their comfort zone. I work with the military and I run into some of the toughest people out there, Navy Seals, EOD, Marines, Special Forces. And these guys (sorry for being gender specific but most of them are guys) are tough, can manage to out PT the average person, and have seen things most people will never see, but most tend to stick with what they are good at and comfortable with. They accept challenges, but challenges they already know.

They tend to like physical challenges- no problem, no worries. And yes that is great. But when faced with other challenges, many of these guys shy away, get combative, and suggest we go to the gym because that is the only important thing out there. And that is frustrating.

People don’t grow when things are easy, they grow and find out who they are when things are tough, when things are hard, and when they are challenging.

Right now I am facing my own challenges.

None of these are easy. I guess I can either look at these as obstacles or see these as opportunities.

My torn meniscus gives me the opportunity to do yoga again and try crossfit.

A new project at work gives me the opportunity to see how we can improve Navy professional military education.

Are they scary? Yes.

Am I terrified that I might fail? Yes, actually I accept I will fail, because when I fail I learned the wrong way of doing something.

I accept hard.

And a bonus, my new challenges let me spend time with my new yoga buddy.

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4-6 Weeks

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After some poking, prodding, and twisting, Doc says all the symptoms are consistent with a torn meniscus. Fun! That means 4-6 weeks of physical therapy along with 4-6 weeks of no running, jumping, or twisting my knee. Which translates to no running, no surfing, no SUPing, no volleyball……

DCIM101GOPRO    Amica

This injury strips me of my usual repertoire of healthy activities. Not only are these the things I do to stay physically fit but they also help me stay sane.

 

This means I need a new workout. So this week I tried something new.

 

For weeks I have been hearing tales of this amazing work out called crossfit. Rob and Chris from work share stories of bruises, bangs, and big lifts. For the past few weeks I’ve been considering checking it out. I just needed a catalyst to really motivate me. Who knew a knee injury would do the trick?

 

I know what your probably thinking, how can you do crossfit if you can’t do any impact or twisting? Easy, just modify exercises so it is low impact and you don’t twist.

 

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Force Newport Crossfit (http://www.forcenewportcrossfit.com/CrossFit/) let’s you try a workout before you commit. The night I went we did box jumps (modified of course), kettle bell swings, squats, and slam balls. It was a solid workout called “three minutes of fun”.

 

In addition to conditioning the body, the workout forced me to be present. And that is what I need for my mental conditioning.

 

I have yet to commit and become an official crossfitter. But it got me thinking about other workouts I can try, like getting the dust of my yoga mat.

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Catching the Glass Wave

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By 2017 the global surfing market is expected to be a $13.2 billion industry. Within the market women are one of the primary consumers. Ladies apparel is a major revenue generator in the market. Ironically, while women may drive the market there is a glass wave that women are trying to catch.

The glass wave women are paddling for is the same gap women are trying to close in other industries such as politics, business, and education. There is a disparity in the number of women in the top leadership spots. In the United States 3% of CEOs are women and in government the country ranks 71st in female legislative representation, behind Bangladesh and Sudan. Similar disparities are found in the professional surf tour.

The women’s tour features 17 women who compete in seven events, compared to the men’s tour that features 34 surfers competing in ten events. The men have more events and they also earn more prize money. There are seven male surfers with career earnings of over a million dollars in prize money. Layne Beachley is the female with the highest career earnings, winning just over $650,000. The next highest female earner after her won almost $200,000 less over their career. The disparity in pay stems from women having fewer events and the difference in the payouts for men and women. The male winner gets about $90,000 an event compared to the female winner who earns about $40,000.

Tour winnings is only one aspect, another is endorsements. Men are more likely to be featured in advertisements, meaning another paycheck. Women surfers are less likely to be used by companies to endorse products. Companies tend to use models, meaning the model is handsomely compensated not the female surfers.

The professional tour and endorsements is a small sliver of the gender gap. Surf movies depict men riding huge waves or traveling the world as soul surfers. Women may get a small part in some of these movies, but rarely do they feature women as the rugged surfer explorer. There are a few movies about women surfers, but they often lack the same sense of adventure. Women are more often featured surfing their local break. If they travel they go to a well-known surf spot.

The impact is seen at local surf spots. Yes women and girls surf, but in a line up of 20 there are usually only one or two women. Chasing this glass wave and closing the gap has some unique challenges. As more women surf there may be a sense that through natural progression the landscape of surfing will change. However a close examination of the business and political systems in the United States reveals change in an already established system is difficult. The surf industry is a well-oiled, established machine. In order to catch the glass wave women need to take an active role.

Female surfers should start be recognizing that surfing has the same barriers that other industries have already identified. People have an unconscious bias about who can be a surfer; women more often than men may need to balance family, work and surf; and women tend to struggle with confidence.

Fortunately these barriers can be overcome. One way is to establish female role models in the surf community. Though it is difficult to recreate the archetype of a Kelly Slater, role models can be found in local communities. Women around the country have formed surf clubs. These clubs are a way for women to network and find other surfers they can identify with. Within these clubs women find surfing role models.

When women and girls have role models to identify with it helps them to eliminate the unconscious bias that exists about what a surfer is supposed to look like. Women will see other women surfing. Women will see other women balancing surf, family, and work. Women will be able to identify with their stories and struggles of what it is like to build the confidence to paddle out into an all male line up.

Confidence is a necessary tool for a surfer, yet women who are skilled surfers may be more likely to struggle with confidence.

A company in England ran a focus group, asking women at all levels in the company why they didn’t put themselves forward for senior roles. The response, women said they weren’t encouraged to apply and in many cases they lacked the confidence to try.

The same holds true for women in the water. Some women are afraid to paddle for waves. Even though they may have the skill level to catch and surf the wave, they may defer going for a wave because they lack the confidence. Having role models, seeing other women surfing, and giving each other support is a way to build confidence.

As more women surf, the sport and the industry will evolve. If women sit and wait for someone else to make the changes, they may be waiting a while. Imagine what surfing would be like if Gregg Noll never paddled for that wave in Waiemea Bay. The same is true for women. Surfers like Lakey Petterson, Sally Fitzgibbons, and Stephanie Gilmore have the potential to push the sport into a new direction. With a few strong paddles from some strong female surfers, women might be able to ride the glass wave.

Ruggles Ave

Why am I Competing?

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When was 5, I started playing team sports. My mom signed me up for soccer. I don’t think I was any good, but it was the start of my love affair with team sports and competition. I added basketball, volleyball, to my team sports repertoire and even tried softball once but never really took to it. I loved the camaraderie of being on a team. I also really liked competing and winning as part of a team.

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Most of the teams I played on were competitive, but weren’t necessarily very good. It didn’t change the fact that as a team we wanted to win. The times we won we would celebrate and the times we lost we would commiserate and assess what we did wrong. The best way I can explain this is winning is fun and losing just sucks.

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While I have a great appreciation for competition. There is a downside; it can spill over into other areas of your life. Competition does not work well in relationships, surfing, parenting, and some aspects of work. Of course I don’t think I was overly competitive in areas outside of sport, but I will leave that up for my family and friends to decide.

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Setting how competitive I was aside, I would rather focus on how I learned to curb my competitiveness (which has had a few drawbacks like not being as competitive as I would like in my volleyball league). I shifted my focus away from competition when I started running.

 

This might sound ironic because running a race is a competition. There is a clear winner. The first person to cross the line wins, and everyone else is put on a list so you can see just how you stacked up against the other racers.

 

I admit when I first started running I would size up my competition at the start line. There were a few things I learned. I am not very good at determining who is a fast or slow runner. Size, shape, and age don’t give many good clues to speed. The other thing I learned (and this was really reinforced when I moved to New England) is most other runners are much faster then me. It was rather humbling finding out I was just okay at running. I loved the running community and wanted to continue to participate in it so I had to reassess and shift my focus.

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To be a runner it couldn’t be about being fast. Instead my focus was enjoying the sport. It wasn’t about competition it was about relieving stress and being in the moment. And one of my favorite things about running is sharing it with other people. There are few things I enjoy more than running with someone on their first race. I get so much enjoyment out of seeing someone achieve a goal of crossing the start and finish line of a run.

 

While I would really love to win a race (or at least my age group), if winning a race were my goal, I would have quit running a long time ago.

What I learned from the MCM

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In 2010 I set my sights on doing the Marine Corps Marathon. I printed the course map and had it pinned next to my desk as a reminder of this goal. Other obligations kept me away from the race until this year. You would think because of how long I had been planning to run this race I would be filled with excitement as I prepared.

 

That was not the case. Something was different this time, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I trained for many weeks but my busy schedule and some injuries kept me from following the training plan I wanted to do. As my training got derailed I never really got back on track. Jim and I ran the Rock n Roll Providence. My hope was this race would get me excited about running again and propel me to really get into training mode for the MCM. Unfortunately it didn’t.

 

Instead I would go running two or three times a week. During the week I never went more than four miles. And on the weekend I would go for long runs. I increased my mileage and logged two 20 mile runs. The day of my long run varied. The biggest factor was not the weather or my schedule, but the surf report.

 

 

Most of my runs took me past the beach. Instead of finding inspiration in the water, I found another reason to stop running. On the days when the waves were perfect, all I wanted to do was stop running, grab my surf board and sit in the water for the next two or three hours. I guess in a way I was cheating on running with a different and much more fun activity.

 

I was putting on the miles and they were not pretty. I termed my training runs as slogging. I defined slogging as really slow jogging that is not fun at all. The word itself doesn’t even sound fun.

 

The thing that really struck me is how much I was not enjoying running and training. Prior to this race I would get so excited at just the thought of going for a run. I would be dressed and ready to go and couldn’t wait for Jim to get ready so we could hit the pavement.

 

Another difference I noted was how excited I used to be about getting a new Runner’s World magazine. I used to read the magazine nearly cover to cover and would get so excited when a new one was in the mailbox. The magazines were left stacked on a table, untouched.

 

Even though I wasn’t having any fun, I had made a commitment to run this race. The training was hard, the race was hard, and there were plenty of times when I really wanted to quit both before and during the run. I cried more during the Marine Corps Marathon than I have during any other race. But what I realized is even though it was hard it was still worth it. Something happened as I plodded along during the race, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. One that had been missing since my first race in 2009.

 

I still don’t have that feeling of attachment with the Marine Corps Marathon. I’m not sure if it was because I wasn’t having any fun with it or because Hurricane Sandy kept my mind elsewhere, but it really doesn’t matter. In the end I learned to push through the really hard stuff. Somehow when everything around just sucks, you need to find a way to keep moving forward.