Tag Archives: mind game

When a Year Wasted Isn’t a Wasted Year

If the title of this post seems conflicted, it’s because I’m learning one of those lessons that the mind is quicker to pick up than the heart. The story starts like this: I slipped and fell down a flight of stairs. I wanted to help the UPS man carry some boxes down the back steps of the gym on a rainy day, and there you go. I don’t even know how I fell or how I traveled down so many steps, but all I know is that I thought my right elbow was smashed to smithereens (it wasn’t) and that my lower back was screwed (it was).

The scene of the crime.

The scene of the crime.

Though it’s not my first reaction, I have to consider myself lucky! I didn’t hit my head, I didn’t break any bones, and I’m not paralyzed. There are a hundred ways a fall like that could’ve been worse. Still, my first reaction was: OOWWW! Followed by hysterical tears, followed by ice and ibuprofen, followed by shattered expectations for the summer amateur boxing season.

I fell on the 17th of March, 2014 (to be exact), which was less than a week before the Georgia Golden Gloves tournament that I’d been preparing for. With six novice bouts under my belt, I was pumped to fight all summer, go open, and fight some more. I wanted to close the fall and waltz into winter with a nice stack of wins and oodles of experience. Right? Wrong!

Initially, we thought I’d still be able to box that weekend after the swelling and inflammation went down. The problem is, the inflammation never went down! My elbow healed up and that pain gradually disappeared after a few months. The lower-back-and-butt injury, however, did not. First, my uninsured self tried a slew of treatments:

  • Chiropractic adjustments.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Icing my back multiple times a day (every day for months).
  • Using a TENS unit.
  • Self-massage with a lacrosse ball.
  • Massage therapy.

I don’t know about the acupuncture, but the chiropractic adjustments were helpful for quick pain relief. Icing my back numbs the pain and the TENS unit covers up the pain, but the best treatment that has encouraged healing is the massage therapy. Not just any massage therapy, but the fantastic work by Jeff Trotti at Comprehensive Bodyworks. Side note: he ROCKS! A lady at the gym recommended him to me and I’m so glad. If you need help, go to Jeff. Now. (What, you live in another state? What’s the problem?! When I’m famous, I’m going to fly him around with me. He doesn’t know that, though, so don’t tell him yet.)

So June rolls around (almost three months after the fall), and I’m thinking that this is starting to get ridiculous and I just have to suck it up and go to a medical doctor. I’m pretty sure that ordeal was a colossal waste of money, but maybe it wasn’t. I got an MRI that showed good results, so at least there wasn’t a herniated or ruptured disc. And I tried some medications that didn’t work… The doctor’s conclusion was that I shouldn’t be hurting. (Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Orthopedic Specialist.) I think he dismissed me because I didn’t have insurance. It was definitely the worst experience I’ve had with a doctor. I recently got health insurance (hooray!), so I’m trying again with a different orthopedic doctor this week. Wish me luck!

From April through October, I tried my best to train around the injury. I rested for weeks at a time here and there, but never more than 2-3 weeks at once. I would get so restless and upset! When I say I was still training, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m talking about low-impact, six-round workouts that sometimes didn’t even require gloves. Nothing near the intensity of even average training sessions, and definitely nowhere near the conditioning needed for sparring and/or fighting. No running, either.

Meanwhile, I felt like everyone around me was training and fighting and having the time of their boxing lives. But this was a lesson in itself. Instead of being in the ring at the fights, I was snapping pictures of our fighters, filming their fights so they could watch themselves later, and cheering from the sidelines. It stunk, but it taught me about supporting my friends and teammates. I was supportive before, too, but this time I didn’t have my own matches to worry about. (That isn’t even true, because I was still thinking about when I would finally be able to compete again…) Ok, so I’m trying to sound all wise and learn-ed, but really I was just jealous.

Look at our boys and their belts! Who wouldn't be jealous? 9/1/2014

Look at our boys and their belts! Who wouldn’t be jealous? 9/1/2014

Even at home in the gym, I felt left out. When I could box, working in the gym was fabulous because it kept me close to what I love. When I couldn’t box, though, it was torture because it felt like all of the work with none of the fun. (It wasn’t so bad once I readjusted my attitude. Again.) It’s amazing how something physical can affect my emotions so much. I know many people have been through so much more physical trouble than I have and for much longer, but I still feel like this has been a long nightmare that still isn’t over. You can tell, right? Even though I’m trying to be logical and level-headed, you can hear that I’ve still got whine and boohoos under there. It’s all about perspective. So many other people are feeling much worse pain, but I’m not feeling their pain… I’m feeling mine.

Just as a pick-me-up even though I still wasn’t in good shape, I did have a fight on November 1st at my home gym and won! That was a bright, happy spot that capped off the worst and shortest training period I’ve ever had before a fight. Whew! Tell you more about that later.

My hope right now is that I can start training again within the next couple of weeks and build up my conditioning and strength to fight and go open this summer. Just a year later than I was hoping for.

Happy New Year!

Ha! I thought I should liven things up. Here I am on my third anniversary of boxing (Jan. 4th), with entirely different thoughts and lessons than I hoped I would. But who’s to say one lesson is better than another, especially when there’s no telling what’s coming in the future?

I re-read my post from my first anniversary of boxing, and I’m proud that I can see so much growth in myself since then. Those lessons are still important basics for me, but I’ve learned so much more. Here are three big ideas that I’m still trying hard to digest:

Keep dreaming big dreams.

Keep dreaming big dreams, but don’t let your impatience to get there spoil what you have here and now. In this song by the Eli Young Band, the main line is: “Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart.” I’m not an aspiring country music artist, but I can relate to the lyrics because they tell me about reaching and reaching and reaching because you don’t have a choice. Scratch that! You do have a choice, and you’ve chosen this one thing, no matter what.

Get to work and expect fun.

When I return to training (whenever that may be), it’s going to hurt. My trainer and I will work together to make sure I ease into it the best way possible, but there’s no getting around the aches and pains that even healthy bodies have when getting back into something like boxing. I don’t care about that. What I’m excited about is boxing, and no pain is going to take the joy of that away. (Remind me of that when I’m complaining about it later!!) I’m serious about my boxing and I will focus and train hard, but I fully expect it to be fun and good because this is what I want and what I’ve chosen.

THIS: I can always learn and advance.

This is my number one boxing lesson for the year. For a while, I thought I couldn’t do anything because I couldn’t train hard. In reality, when I shifted my attitude, I could do more than I realized. I watched a whole lot of boxing (in the gym, on TV, on YouTube, at tournaments…) and imagined myself doing everything impressive I observed. Everything sharp, slick and devastating—I can do all that. I practiced on lighter and faster bags, danced around with footwork here and there, and played around.

Not kidding: even though I trained so little this year, the few times I sparred or even moved around a little bit throwing jabs, I’ve felt and looked way better than before. Progress! Don’t get me wrong, the above activities were NOT a satisfying replacement for full-on training, but it was something. Involuntary resting absolutely sucks, but you don’t have to rest your mind.

Which leads right into that lesson I mentioned at the beginning: that I “know” in my mind, but still struggle with in my heart. This period hasn’t been a waste of time. It’s a set-back, no doubt, but I’ve still grown. It delayed my plans in terms of fights and advancing into the amateurs and eventually the pros… But the year wasn’t a wash. It didn’t go down the drain. I don’t know all the reasons yet, and I don’t know the end of the story! But I sure do have big dreams for it.

Next time, on a happier note, I’ll tell you about my fight in November, how I became a Mexican, and how I got a new ring name! :)

P.S. I’m not allowed to carry anything down those steps anymore.

Georgia Games 2013 — Half-way to Open!

The weekend following my fight in Greenville, I entered the 2013 Georgia Games tournament (July 20-21). I barely trained the week in between–one or two runs, some light sparring. After I looked so tired in Greenville, Terri wanted to make sure I was sharp this time. I’m glad she preaches rest before a fight!

Day One

I paid my $25 and entered the female novice 125 division. I got my physical and then weighed in at 123.2 lbs—about the same as the week before. My trainer went back to the gym for the Saturday morning classes, but I got to do my favorite thing… Know what it is, yet?

20131130-190752.jpgBREAKFAST!!! This one was particularly good. There were two of us from my gym in the tournament, so we headed to Cracker Barrel together and pigged out. That was the first thing that we learned we had in common! Loving food. I had three buttered and very syrupy pancakes, two eggs, two sausage patties and a biscuit. (Lord have mercy!) It was fantastic. I also enjoyed the company. We had never really talked much before this, even though he’d been training at the same gym for a month, but we had a great time.

After breakfast, we dropped by the gym to pick up a headgear, then went to my apartment to nap. I slept like a rock and woke up feeling great. Both of us were in high spirits and were excited about boxing. We went to pick up Milana, and then the three of us headed for the venue. This part is memorable because of the downpour of rain that I had to drive through to get there! I had never driven in rain this bad, and it made me nervous. I went super slow and we made it to the venue alive.

It was hard to find parking. We dropped Milana off at the door so she could check the brackets. We were late because of the rain, and didn’t want to miss our potential bouts! As we finally pulled into a parking spot, Milana called to let us know that I wouldn’t fight until tomorrow, but that he would fight today.

We ran through the rain into the venue, to find that the tournament hadn’t started. In fact, the bout sheets hadn’t even been posted. Only the brackets were up on the wall. (Apparently, this Georgia Games received way more entries than usual.) I checked the brackets and saw there were five women in my weight class, including me. Since it was  a two-day tournament, they broke up the most popular classes into groups: three of the girls were in group A, and my opponent and I were in group B.

The chick that I boxed in Greenville the week before (and had sparred previously) was also in this tournament, but she was now in the 132 weight class. There were only two women in the 119 class, and I didn’t see any open women—only novices. I think there might’ve been a couple unopposed open women, but no matches were made.

We waited for the tournament to begin. Waited, and waited… Some folks from the gym came to cheer us on, so we all kept each other company. Boxing finally began around 7:15 pm—over three hours late! The other guy from our gym was scheduled to box in bout #20 (out of 26) in ring 2. The good thing is that he had plenty of time to get ready. The bad thing was that his fight was so late. He seemed calm and collected all the way through. His fight ended around 11pm and he won! And looked good doing it, too. We’d both fight in the finals the next day.

We went to eat to celebrate his win. It was great to celebrate with him, but it was a lousy meal for me. I spent $10 on an over-priced salad, of which I only ate a few bites of lettuce because I didn’t want to exceed my weight the next morning. We sat down to eat at about 11:45 at night and left dinner at 1 in the morning. I got home at 1:30 am and was asleep by 2.

Day Two

Per my instructions, I checked my weight at 6 am after sleeping like a dead rock for 4 hours. I was 123.6 lbs, no problem. I slept for another hour and a half and had some really weird dreams that I forgot immediately. Around 7:40 I rolled out of bed, into my car. When I got to the weigh-in, I joined my friend from the gym in line and he informed me of our bout numbers. Mine was #24 and his was #29, both in ring 1.

To expedite the weigh-ins, the officials had the girls wait off to the side so that they could weigh a bunch of us at the same time. We got tired of watching guy after guy walk in and out, even though they arrived later than we did. One of the girls pitched a little fit and they decided it was time to weigh the girls. I was exactly 123.2 lbs again.

I went to the gym and slept for two more hours. Unfortunately, I’d left my duffel bag of gear at home, so we had to swing by my apartment “on the way” to the venue (in the opposite direction). We also picked up Milana, then got to the venue around 2:30, right at the time we had planned to arrive. (Wow!)

I dawdled around the venue. Sat around for a while, much like the first day. This time I was thinking about my own fight more than what was going on around me.

20131130-190840.jpg

Terri wrapped my hands, which is a time I enjoy. I shadowboxed and stretched while being filmed by Fred. (I stuck to my policy: ignore the camera! But still try to look cool.) Later, Fred and Milana took me outside to film a quick interview for Boxing Chicks. I was nervous because I didn’t want to cut close to my fight, but Milana watched the clock to keep us on track. I was my usual eloquent self! (That’s sarcasm.) I cracked myself up when I told him that I didn’t feel like being sad later, so I might as well win.

We went back in, and I warmed up hard on the pads. This part was really fun, and I smiled a lot. I had a blast. Fred filmed, and I got a good sweat worked up. After that, Terri let me cool off some.

Time to glove up! Shortly after that, I got a little headache. I borrowed the gym’s headgear (because the strap on mine broke) and it felt a little too tight… Terri got me warmed up again, to stay warm this time. The headache blossomed into a full-grown, throbbing affair like I’ve never felt before. Headgear definitely too tight! I worried about being able to focus on the fight.

It was finally time to head ringside. The moment I stepped through the ropes, I forgot about the headache. I bowed to the officials, and got inspected by the referee. It was time to go!!!

Round 1: Before the bout, Terri told me that we’d have to wait and see what kind of fighter this girl was. I would either need to pressure her or I’d need to lay back and box her from the outside. She told me to listen for her call during the first round. Within the first minute, I heard the command: “Pressure!!” and I darn did.

Round 2: I got hit a lot, and that’s about all I remember. My own pace was a little slower than in the first round. In the corner after that round, Terri’s words boiled down to: “You lost that one, now go win the next one.”

Round 3: I re-applied more pressure with renewed determination. The ref paused the fight to give my opponent a standing 8 count. At some point, some snot came out of my nose and onto my face and I remember thinking  “Ew, gross!!” (I’m sure you’re glad I included that detail.)

The moment Terri pulled my headgear off, my head was relieved x1000 and the headache disappeared like magic. (Side note: Since my old strap broke, I ordered new headgear. The first 3-4 times I wore it, I got that exact same headache. Now, it doesn’t hurt anymore. I guess there’s a break-in period?)

After the last bell, we knew I’d won the fight, but there’s still that nagging “what-if” feeling until the official announcement is made. The ring announcer drew out the announcement for a long time to make us crazy. I won by decision!

The other guy’s second bout was shortly after mine. His match stressed me out! Both him and his opponent had fought the previous day, and they both looked pretty tired. Our guy won out, though, so we swept Georgia Games 3-0 between the two of us, which made Terri proud. :)

This was a peculiar win for me, emotionally. I was in high spirits immediately after my fight, but within a few minutes I felt bad. Mostly physically: my face (especially the nose) hurt like heck, I had a bellyache, I felt a little light-headed, one of my right knuckles hurt, my muscles were already feeling sore… Further on in the evening, I started feeling down. Part of it (my pride’s about to show) was because I felt over-shadowed by my friend, since he won twice in a row. Yes, I know how silly that is and I’m embarrassed to admit it! I told him about it much later (when we were dating…) and we both laughed about it.

I don’t think that was the only reason I felt down, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. At any rate, we went to dinner again, but I didn’t feel like celebrating and I really wasn’t hungry, either. Looking back at myself that night, I was so petty. If the same thing happened again today, I’m confident I could turn my attitude around.

The next day, I was quite sore! Everywhere. I still felt a little down, with no reason. I’d just fought someone who was more skilled than my previous opponents, and I won. I won conclusively, fighting for the second weekend in a row. I looked, felt and performed better than the previous weekend against a tougher opponent! Why was I down on myself? I shared some of these feelings with Terri and she assured me (multiple times) that I did really good. I felt like a little child wanting attention, but it is what it is. The mind game is so important, and I’m learning to play it better as I progress.

Either way, I couldn’t wait to fight again. (Five more novice bouts left for me, and then I’ll go open!) I was looking forward to the Title tournament at the end of August (where I got my second fight the previous year), but I was hoping for a match before then, too. I also couldn’t wait to get back to training! First, I rested and healed. All fight-related pain was gone by Friday and I was ready to get back to work.


A Little Unrelated Note Stuck on the End: The Next Tournament

I didn’t end up fighting in the Title tournament because no other novice females entered the 125 weight class. Milana entered this tournament, as well as two guys from our gym. They all got matches, which made me happy for them and jealous. :) I spent the weekend driving Milana around and just spending time with her, which was awesome. I took my two favorite pictures of her, which she won’t allow me to show people (haha!). Here’s one of us she took during Georgia Games:

20131130-190856.jpg

Milana won her fight! She got a broken nose and two black eyes in the process. She was supposed to advance to the finals the next day, but the doctor gave her a medical disqualification because of the nose.

I’ll end this post with a funny story from the Title tournament. I told a friend about how five girls entered my weight class at Georgia Games… “So where are they now???” She joked that I scared them away. A little boy, eight or nine years old, stopped and asked: “Is it true?!?” He looked up at me with big eyes. I said, “What?” I didn’t realize that he’d heard our conversation. “Is it true that you scared all those girls away??” Hahahaha! I just told him: “No, I don’t think so.”