Bruises, Batteries and Beauty: Life Lessons From One Long Night

I recently found myself on a mountain in the middle of the night. Again.

Unlike the last time, this event wasn't quite so...traumatic. Though this adventure, dubbed Ladies Night by the boot camp that created it, certainly had some special nuances.

Behold...the numbers:

  • 29 female participants
  • 12 hours (7pm to 7am. As in overnight.)
  • 3 trail runs, each to the top of a different mountain peak
  • 2 buckets, each filled with one 30 pound sandbag, to be carried partway up each mountain

Why, you might wonder, did I sign up for this?

I thought it would be inspiring...would show me what I'm made of...would come with lots of life lessons.

I thought it might not hurt that badly.

Many of these things turned out to be true...especially the part about the lessons.

I present a few of them to you now...

Mountain #1: Iron Mountain

Where'd those bruises come from?

All loaded up and ready to roll, we started out with an energetic bang...which quickly slowed waaaaay down as we got intimate with the sand-filled buckets.


If you've ever carried buckets filled with 60 pounds of sand, you know it hurts. A lot.

We struggled to forge ahead, tried to outrun the pain burning in our necks and arms and fingers...anticipated the moment when we could plop the buckets down.

Within minutes the bruising started on my calves...which, it turns out, is where buckets filled with sand like to hit you when you're 5-feet tall.

Exhibit A:


But, in the moment, I couldn't focus on that...tried hard not to even think about it.

Because I knew the hard fact...that for every step up with those buckets, I'd need to do it again to get them down. There was no other option.

The Lesson:

Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where things are painful, and the only thing we can do to get out of it is to keep on going forward.

The best thing is to take it step-by-step, to have faith that it will eventually be behind us, and to keep out those thoughts about how horrible it is. Trust me...they just don't help.

Mountain #2: Mt. Woodson

Batteries Schmatteries

When we arrived at to the second mountain we took a brief break.

Now, I knew that my headlamp, a critical piece to my Ladies Night success, was growing dim.

Did I use the time to change the batteries? Nope. Instead, I scarfed down my snack and checked my emails (in the middle of the night, I remind you).

By the time I got to the top of the mountain my headlamp was almost completely burned out...and, as we began running down the rocky terrain, I knew I was in trouble.

I asked the woman ahead of me if I could run right behind her and use the light from her headlamp to guide me.

Turns out she was way faster than me. And so I ran faster than ever before to keep up, to see what I was capable of. When I got too far behind she waited for me. Smiling, we got to the bottom together.

The Lesson:

If you're dealing with a toughie and need a buddy, pick someone who has lots of light to share, who will use it to help you grow, and who will slow down and support you when you fall behind.

Oh, and change your batteries when you need to. Nobody is emailing you at 1am.

Mountain #3: Black Mountain

Check THAT Out!

The third mountain was by far the part because it was the shortest and in part because it signified the end.

As I neared the summit I noticed that the sun was coming up, and there was a beautiful layer of clouds misting over the town below. Despite desperately wanting to reach the top, I forced myself to stop.

I paused to look, taking a quick selfie...just so I wouldn't forget how beautiful life can be when we stop and take the time to actually see it.


The Lesson:

Sometimes getting to the finish line isn't the most important thing. Sometimes it's all about seeing what's around you in the moment...and recognizing that, no matter what, there's beauty in it.

In the end...

...We covered 22 miles of terrain.

The evening was indeed inspiring...indeed showed me what I'm made of...indeed taught me some critical lessons.

And it hurt. Badly.

No matter...because, it turns out, sometimes that's just what's required to grow.

This week...

Persevere through your challenges by adjusting your attitude, knowing they'll eventually be behind you.

Take the time to set yourself up for success, and find the guiding lights to help you along the way.

And, with every moment, remember to stop and see the beauty around you.

PS: Thanks to the folks at Gut Check Fitness - and to all of the extraordinary women up on those mountains with me - for such an amazing, life-changing evening!