Sue’s Bucket List

Most of you may have heard of the “bucket List”. The bucket list is a list of things you want to accomplish before you die.   There is even a great movie titled the “Bucket List” with Jack Nicolson and Morgan Freeman. I truly believe that it can be a driver for completing goals and enriching your lives. Well… as I mentioned in March I too have a bucket list, and one item on my list is to break the American Record and another is to break the World age group record in the high jump.

The difference between a wish and a dream…. is the ink. A wish will remain a wish.    A dream will become reality once you write it down. I set out with a dream and a plan and started on my journey 1.5 years ago. The following is the end of my journey for one of my goals…….

Here is how it happened……the week before Father’s Day; we were at Michael’s family reunion in San Diego.  Most of Michael’s family lives in Seattle, but he has some family in San Diego.  I had this feeling that I should jump that weekend because I had been making attempts at the American Record (AR) for several weeks and I was feeling more and more confident. I wanted the American Record before our Vegas trip for the Beachbody conference. As luck would have it, I found a track meet taking place in the San Diego area at the Olympic training center.

I was so excited to jump at the Training Center, as I had always heard about how amazing it is, however I never had the opportunity in my youth to compete there. OMG, the facilities were amazing; world class.  There were only two other competitors, Sharon Day (former Olympian) and Linda Rainwater (former Dos Pueblos High School athlete).  Both Linda and I were trying to hit a certain mark.  Linda needed to jump over 6 feet to qualify for the USA National Championships and I needed to jump over 5’1” to get the Master’s American Record (50-54 Div.).

Even though I am 50, I still feel like I am in my 20s and capable of jumping much higher than I have these past two seasons.   I used to compete with women like Linda and Sharon and be in the running for first place!  But, it is what it is and I truly am a master’s competitor (translation = old) and need to accept that.  My competitors and their coaches cheered me on and showed a lot of support on the road to my record feat.

The emotion I went through after attaining the record (1.56) was pure joy and relief at the same time.  I reflected back on a time in my youth (translation = hell of a long time ago) when I was trying to qualify for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the high jump and needed a qualifying height of 1.86 or 6′ 1 1/4″. I must have jumped the height below (5’11”) a dozen times that year but when the bar was placed at the qualifying height, I crumbled.

It was before my jump today that these memories came crashing back, Oh no…. am I going to choke in this most crucial moment. I was trying to rid my mind of the struggles I had with the barrier of the qualifying height for the Olympic trials in 1988. But no worries, all those years with my shrink have paid off. I could visualize myself skying over that bar (sorry a little tech talk here, skying means I jump really really high).  The only sad part about the record setting day was that my family was not there to witness the event. Whaaaa!!!! They were all at the family reunion.

The very next week, just days before I was to compete in the Beachbody Body Beast Classic Physique competition, I had the opportunity to jump again at the USATF Western Regional Masters Track & Field Championships at Caltech (that is the place smart people go to school).  This time, I broke the record (1.57) on Father’s Day and my two boys, Nicolas and Cruz and my husband, Michael were all there to see it! Yeah team.

Although I am not finished yet…I still have the world record to attain, I feel happy and proud that I achieved one of my goals that I set for myself about a year and a half ago.

I have had a Master’s American Record before in the pole vault when I was 35 (since surpassed by Stacy Dragila – former open world record holder), but I have never had a Master’s World Record!  I will not quit until I get this!!!

I want to give special thanks to my team who consisted of my coaches, supporters, training partners and biggest fans.  My husband, Michael was unbelievably supportive in my efforts to go after my goals, without him I could not have done it. I only wish every woman had a husband as wonderful, caring, and loving – not to mention, he is a great dad.  He watched the kids when he could to allow time for me to do my strength training or sprints/high jump practice. He would encourage me every day and tell me how proud he was.  Ok, so I had to promise to take care of him too (smiley face). My kids were great and patient as we dragged them from meet to meet, sometime hours and hours away from home, teaching them proper track etiquette along the way (once Cruz ran across the track in the middle of an Olympic qualifying race and almost took out the whole field of runners). The official never let me forget it as he scolded both of us.

My coach, Josh Priester, former Associate Head Director of Track and Field at UCSB and now Director and Founder of a non-profit called the Women’s Athletic Performance Foundation ( which helps train and support aspiring female heptathletes who are looking to make the Olympic Team in their future (a heptathlete competes in 7 different track and field events over the course of two days).  Josh was very patient with me and worked through some quirky technical flaws and treated me just like one of his nationally ranked “young” athletes.

I would like to thank Peter Blumert of Prevail Conditioning in Santa Barbara for designing my strength training programs and correcting and strengthening my weaknesses and getting me in top condition to achieve my goals.  And, I would like to thank Goleta Valley Athletic Club for the fabulous environment to perform my weekly workouts.

With my record and my title under my belt, the very next day after the Cal Tech meet, we were headed off to Las Vegas to attend the 2013 Beachbody Coach Summit and to compete in the Body Beast Classic Physique Contest.  I had been following the 90-day Body Beast in-home bodybuilding program with my good friend and now fellow coach, Bridget Cathie along with all the training I do for the high jump.  I had also followed a strict pre-competition diet for 4-weeks prior given to me by my posing and nutrition coach, David Esparza.  The diet was hard for me, not because I was starving all the time, you actually eat all the time, but I was not able to eat the things I love to eat daily such as, my Shakeology meal, fruits, and other carbs that I enjoy!  My body fat was 10% when I started the diet, but I didn’t get re-tested after the competition. (I know, I am a freak… a woman over 50 with 10% body fat content is rare).

Unfortunately, when I arrived at the pre-judging, the judges announced that they weren’t really looking for hardcore bodies, you know like shredded, and they weren’t looking for you to flex while posing.  Well, this was news to all of the competitors as we all followed the sample videos and practiced a certain way and all dieted to get the lean and cut look. 
In the Finals, we had to go on stage at the MGM Grand hotel in front of over 2,000 people and strut around in a teeny, tiny bikini.  I ended up making the top  10 out of about 65 (all age categories were scored together).  Making the top 10 meant that you had to do a short posing routine with a spotlight on you and music in the background.  Let me just say two words, nervous and scared!  But, I put one foot in front of the other and got up there and did my thing (fake it til you make it is what they say – and that is what I did).  I came away from the experience having made a ton of new friends who are like-minded – positive, happy and confident and therefore, all the time and sacrafices I made to try to be in the top 10 was well worth it. 
So in conclusion, (if you are still awake after this long diatribe), I was able to check two things off my bucket list……..American Record – Check! Body Beast Classic Contest Top 10 – Check!  I hope this story motivates and inspires you to go after your dreams, whatever they may be.