From Contender to Champion

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

Wow, Teddy, thank you so much for calling me out.

If there is one thing I am absolutly AWESOME at, it is finding an excuse for things that happen to me.  Seriously, it is NEVER my fault.  I mean, look at this innocent face…..

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You can even see my halo.

But things happen.  Plans don’t go the way I think they should.  I stumble and I fall.  I struggle to the point of absolute and utter shame, and then IT happens…..

Doubt creeps in.

At first it is subtle, but slowly and persistently, it starts to take over your mind, your body, and your spirit.

“I can’t do that.”
“Everyone is better than me, how can I possibly compete?”
“I’m not skinny enough.”
“I’m not in shape enough.”
“I’m not worthy enough.”
“I’m not skilled enough.”

Any of that sound familiar?

This past summer I had an opportunity to hike with a man we call the Jedi.  The hiking Jedi that is.  Everyone who lives or hikes around the Smokies knows Mike.  He grew up in these mountains, and I honestly believe that if you were to prick his finger, a good ole Smoky Mountain stream, might just ooze out of him.

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Me and the Mountain Jedi during a chance meeting in December 

When the chance to get to hike arose…. I said yes….BEFORE I even knew the location.

WHY do I do SUCH things??????

Of course the hike was one that was on my bucket list….Rocky Top.  I had planned on getting it done, but I kind of wanted to do it alone because…..well….I knew it would be ugly.  I knew I would huff, puff, and struggle the unrelenting climb up to the summit. And NO ONE wants to see that!

However, this was my chance to meet and hike with a legend….maybe I could fake it.

Of course there would be 10 others hiking with us. Just my luck.   I only knew two of the other hikers, but I knew the rest of the group was a group of intense, regular, and pretty fit hikers.


For the whole week leading up to the hike I didn’t sleep.  What was I thinking? These people are going to think I am joke.  I can’t keep the pace they are going to hike, and plus….I have a gimpy foot.  (I didn’t know it at the time, but my Achilles Tendon was dangerously close to rupturing).  The closer it got to Saturday….the more intense my doubts became.

I thought of a million excuses to keep from going.  Of course I could use the old foot is hurting, which really would not have been an excuse since it really was killing me, but I also realized if I bailed, I would set myself way back, and miss out on achieving a new goal, and meeting new friends.

The morning dawned warm and bright.  I was so nervous, that I made it to the meeting place WAY before everyone else.  (I am usually the late one.) One by one the other hikers arrived.  Greetings and introductions were made, laughter began, and the obligatory picture at the start was taken.

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My fellow hiking mates on the way to Rocky Top.  Truly a wonderful and fun group of people!

Starting the climb was awful.  At first I kept up, but it didn’t take long for doubt to take over.

Girl! Who do you thing YOU are? Don’t you know these people are better than you?
You better not mention your foot because now they are just going to think that is some kind of excuse for your poor performance.
SERIOUSLY, What were you THINKING?????
You ain’t gonna make it sister!

Before long I was in the back of the pack.  They never got to far ahead of me, but I hated the fact I was being out hiked.  I was missing all the conversation, and laughs.  This sucked.  Perhaps I should just give up hiking…. I mean, clearly I wasn’t made for this.

I would love to tell you that at this time I had some divine inspiration from God, and I thought of a really powerful verse.  However, it wasn’t the bible that came to mind as I climbed the mountain that day, but my movie hero…..Rocky Balboa.

I might just be the worlds BIGGEST Rocky fan.  I can can quote each movie like I am the one who wrote the script.  Rocky has been through it all. He continually doubted what he could do, and yet, he NEVER gave in to his doubts.  He pushed through, and ALWAYS succeeded.

So as I am struggling up the mountain, naturally I think of the Italian Stallion and what he might say.

“Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.” 

BINGO!!!!!!!!!   Those are just the words I needed.

Of course I was struggling.  At this point I had only been hiking seriously for 6 months.  But oh how far I had already come.  In those 6 months I had hiked well over 300 miles, and had done some pretty incredible stuff.  This was just another mountain for me to climb. Another push to make me stronger.

That day, I struggled,but I NEVER quit.  Yes, I brought up the rear for a good part of the day (I totally killed it on the way back down), but never was I out of ear shot of those hiking with me.  I was right behind, nipping at their heels.  And you know what?

I made it!

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Rocky Top Summit

Never EVER let your doubts keep you from doing what you long to do.  Doubts are NOT truth.  They are pesky little obstacles that you can totally climb over if you just plow on ahead.

Sure…. at the end of the day I ended up looking like this…..

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The end of a long and painful day

But it was totally worth it.  I silenced my doubts, by realizing I wanted to be a champion, and sometimes that means I have to remember in order to be that….I have to first be a contender.


5 thoughts on “From Contender to Champion

  1. “Doubt creeps in.
    At first it is subtle, but slowly and persistently, it starts to take over your mind, your body, and your spirit.”

    “Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.”

    Heyyy that was an interesting take..

    P.S. Go thru my latest blogpost and gimme your inputs as its a diff topic I delved into after a long time..


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