Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ridge wrap-up

The dogs on Main Street howl
'cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man
And I believe in a promised land

Bruce Springsteen

Let me start by saying that this was one of the best, if not the best, of all my trips to the Ridge. It was fun, so productive, and invigorating. I pushed my knee and it responded fabulously. I climbed heights that were unimaginable to me when I started this program. I got pushed by my friends to go faster and harder than ever before. I learned to relax and and enjoy my surroundings. I didn't have a triathlon or a film crew changing my program. I felt like I could do things that I haven't done since back in my college days. No complaints :)

So let's tie up some loose ends before I settle in for some serious basketball watching, because it's March and that to me means a plethora of exciting passionate basketball. The food just keeps getting better. This is a yummy Caesar Salad Pizza. There's so many more options if you don't like what they are serving. The kitchen staff is amazing and works to make sure you get everything you need and want. They cut apples and oranges to take on the hike with you. It's been such a transformation in the dining room that I can't say enough about it.

I had a lot of fun on this trip. Played pool volleyball, spent a rainy morning playing racquetball in town, and remembered that exercise can be fun and doesn't by any stretch have to be on a treadmill in a gym.
My hikes were simply great this trip. Saddle, Camelback, Hidden Pinyon, Johnson's Arch, and Jenny's Canyon. Beautiful, hard, sweaty, and humbling. I just never thought I would be someone who looked forward to conquering new hills. Saddle was so hard, but I wanted to prove that I could do all that they offered. I look back on my first 3 trips over 18 months where I never ventured off road and laugh at what I missed out on. There is no feeling like standing on the summit of a great mountain, surrounded by loving friends, and realizing you climbed it. I was never that guy. But this place makes me that guy. This picture is the pond from Butch Cassidy, and it actually had water in it for the first time on one of my trips.
There are certain classes I don't really like to take. I find some of them really hard. In others I feel completely uncoordinated. But then I look around the class and I realize I'm no different from anyone else there. We all have our fears and though we try to mask those fears many times by exuding confidence we still worry about what others will think about how we look or how we don't fit in. That's all self doubting crap. No one cares, you try the best you can. You laugh, you sweat, and when it's over you smile.

The ridge has changed. I see bigger people coming for longer stays. Do me a favor no matter how big you are, no matter how much it hurts or how embarrassed you are by how hard things are for you compared to others, get on a van every morning. Have them take you somewhere. Spend those two and a half hours moving around. Take a few more steps than you did the day before. If you don't you are cheating yourself. I really wish they would make everyone get on the vans but they don't. So make it your number one priority to do that. It changes your life, and you are only short changing yourself if you don't. I would have chosen to stay back, pretended to get a good workout in, but nothing had the effect that going out and walking the stop sign hike repeatedly did for me. If you are coming and afraid; that is so understandable. We all are, but you took the hardest step when signing up, keep taking those steps. You can't have Paige looking over your shoulder all the time. Well I guess you can if you stand below her fathead picture on the wall :)

One of the more surreal moments for me was coming off Saddle completely exhausted, and a lady not at the ridge, telling me she read my blog. So a shout-out to Theresa from Washington, who came back to St George on her own, wearing her polar watch to make sure she was burning the calories she burned on the program and hiking her butt up stop sign everyday. There's hikes everywhere, teams to play on and friends that want to help. take advantage of it. The Ridge is a bubble but you have to live in the real world. If you are going to book a stay here book for as many weeks as you think you need, but 4 weeks is optimal. If you want to stay 12 make plans to go home every four weeks and start to adapt. The most successful campers are those that cherish their time at the Ridge but make it work at home. And after four weeks you lose some of that cherishing your time there.The program is hard I will not lie about that. Your body gets tired, your mind wanders, and you need outside life. There seems to be diminishing returns after 4 weeks without a freshening of some sorts.

So in short. This place is awesome. The people in the program inspire you beyond what you could ever imagine. It's life changing. None of us are perfect and I am further away than most, but you will have perfect, jaw-dropping days here, and you will believe in yourself. And there is no greater feeling than leaving the self loathing behind and embracing life again. It's vacation time for me and the blog. Hopefully we earned it. Peace, Love and buzzer beaters, James

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