By Dana McMahan
I never went mountain biking before this summer. I’ve been on one rafting trip and two rock climbing outings ever. I don’t like workouts that last more than an hour—20 minutes is my ideal. And group fitness is not for me. But next fall I’m taking on a three-day, inclusive, multi-team race where I’ll bike, raft, hike, and climb through the high desert of Colorado. Crazy? Maybe. But here’s why I want to be part of the World T.E.A.M. Sports Adventure TEAM Challenge.
It’s time to get over myself.
I’ve been hospitalized twice since last year with workout injuries—one that required surgery and destroyed my fledgling competitive powerlifting career, and one bizarre and potentially catastrophic case of rhabdomyolisys. I’ve felt pretty sorry for myself as I’ve dwelled on all the things I can no longer do, and I’m tired of wallowing. On my team (and on every team in the race) will be two people with disabilities, one in a wheelchair.
So, I can’t do heavy back squats anymore or lift other weights as heavy as I like? How about facing life from a wheelchair or without limbs or minus my sight or hearing? Seeing firsthand what athletes with life-altering disabilities are accomplishing is sure to humble me, not to mention provide a much-needed dose of perspective.
How about a non-arbitrary goal?
As a powerlifter I chased ever-heavier weights with a vengeance. When I finally reached my crazy goal of a 200-pound squat, I immediately turned my mind to a double body weight lift, just a few more pounds. If I’d made it before landing in the operating room, it wouldn’t have been enough either. There’s never an end to arbitrary goals. My goal for this race is dead simple: finish. I will go home a winner if my team and I cross the finish line.
Screw the scale—just get in shape.
And speaking of arbitrary numbers, let’s try not focusing on the number on the scale for a change. Training for this race requires me to work hard, work long, and work often. Instead of fretting over calories consumed, I can look at them as fuel for training. There are no weigh-ins at the start of this race, so I can focus 100 percent on just getting in the best possible shape. And I’m doing it with some of the most exhilarating sports out there.
Be part of something bigger.
Many athletic pursuits are lone endeavors. In power lifting, it was only me under the weight, which was fuel on the fire of my freakishly competitive nature. The last thing I need in sports is a reason to pit myself against other people. This race is a group effort. We’ll cross the finish line only if I learn to stop going out just for myself, and work as a team.
Support a vital cause.
For more than 20 years, World T.E.A.M. Sports has used athletics to challenge disabled and non-disabled men, women, and children to accomplish goals they never thought possible. At all events—whether mountain climbing, bicycling, whitewater rafting, or ropes events—four things happen:
• Disabled participants build self-confidence and physical fitness.
• The disabled provide a role model for other disabled citizens, encouraging them to take up athletics.
• The disabled provide a moving inspiration to other participants and to spectators when they see disabled individuals reaching goals and meeting challenges beyond anyone’s imagination.
• The disabled and non-disabled participants become a team, working together to overcome those challenges.
Funds raised for this race go toward World TEAM Sports’ incredible work. Here is how you can help support them.
And bonus: Get a fun new wardrobe.
I admit it—I like getting cool new things. Kitting up for a new adventure is fun. And I want to give props to the cool people at TheClymb.com for helping me get ready for the race with some pretty sweet gear. They wanted to help this great cause so they sent me a goodie box full of stuff like mountain biking gloves, a cozy hat, a thermal top, triathlon shorts, and more. I want to come out of this race a better person, but it never hurts to add to your stash of sports gear.
Dana, still recovering from an injury, can’t participate this year but will be on the ground at the mid-September race, covering the event for Women’s Adventure. Stay tuned for her report!
Dana is a freelance fitness, travel, and food writer based in Louisville, Kentucky.
Category: Making a Difference