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A New Adventure

An idea has sprung forth. With me, that always indicates a bit of an adventure that can either be completely terrifying or life changing.

The world is going to think me mad. But that’s ok, I’ve been there more than a few times over the years. I still try to blaze my own trail.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that I’m not unique in any way. I’m not inventing something new and exciting. I’m not an entrepreneur… I can barely spell entrepreneaur. Nothing I do is going to be earth shattering for anyone but myself.

Actually, I’m glad. Have you ever had your dreams dashed against the rocks, only to find they were not your dreams, but someone elses? That was me, until now.

I had been trying to squeeze myself and this silly passion of mine into a mould. Train harder, get faster, podium. What is the purpose if you’re not trying to excel? When all your peers are striving to win, can you muster the courage to run your own course?

It sounds easier than it is. We are, after all, pack animals.

In my attempts, I had begun to lose my passion for running. I no longer understood the purpose. And then a global crisis hit and suddenly I remembered.

My purpose: To put one foot in front of the other. Feel the wind on my face. Soak in the landscapes. No sense of time or urgency. I run to be with nature, and nature doesn’t hurry. Nature doesn’t have cutoffs.

I had been planning to race the Iditarod Trail Invitational 350 miler in February of 2021. Planning is an interesting operative word. Sometimes life has plans for you that you don’t yet know. When racing the Iditarod became economically infeasible, I was forced to consider that maybe it’s not my dream to race. Maybe my dream is to face my fears and push my limits.

And so I will.

February 2021 I will run the entire 480 kilometres of the Alberta winter road, self supported, over 10 days. Because why chase a dream that’s not yours? Why compete in someone else’s race, when the challenge is within? And why travel distances seeking the beauty of another country when my own backyard is absolutely breathtaking?

It sounds much less powerful when there are no medals or competitors. But there is power in simplicity, and I am no competitor. I have never been on the podium, I’ve won no awards. I’m not an outlier, nor am I any different than you. We are the same, you and I. Let me show you what you’re capable of.

Reflections on Badassery

It’s now been two weeks since I crossed the finish line of my first fat fueled staged ultra-marathon.  Running over 300kms over 7 days in New Zealand.  I figure it’s a good time to debrief and think about all the miles put in, all the moments I faltered, the fear.

The fear is one of the main reasons I do this. 

Most of the time we go about our lives on autopilot.  We are conversing and interacting with other human beings daily, but can we remember the details of these interactions?  Most likely not.  But every once and a while someone will say something that will hit you deeply, and you will never forget it.  Someone once told me: “if something scares you, you should do more of it”.  This landed inside me in a place that needed to hear it and I haven’t let it go since.  Back then I had just finished getting my life on track for the final time and had been operating from a place of fear.  What ifs and doubts left me questioning my future.  Those words guided me to embrace fear, perhaps prove it wrong, and they have been the silent driver ever since. 

For me, there is nothing more enjoyable than being in the throes of fear, self doubt and worry but choosing to brush it aside and take control.  I will forever be proving to myself that I’m stronger than fear.

Reflecting on what it takes to complete a +300km ultramarathon.

Here is my honest assessment.

Training for this race was difficult.  Training gets difficult every year when you’re nearing the end of your block and the monotony is setting in and your body is tired.  In the dead of winter when daylight is a luxury of the weekend and you see stretches of -38c days ahead of you.

I tried to break the monotony by cross training more this time around:  On days where I really didn’t want to lace up my running shoes I would go skiing or snow shoeing instead.  Breaking up the rhythm and motion helped get me through.  I also started a social run on Friday nights called Friday Night Lights, so named to poke fun at the fact that headlamps were a must.

I think it’s important to remember this because when people ask me “how was training?” and I respond “not that bad!” it’s total bull.  The answer is training is tough.  Training sucks.

When you wake up in the morning and it’s -38c out, and you know your layers are going to weigh more than you do.

When you’re out there for hours in the cold and your fingertips start freezing from the sweat, but you have to remove your gloves to get your hot packs open, training sucks.

When you’re visiting family and you have to sneak off and run early in the morning AND late at night so you can still meet your build week-training sucks.

But guess what? The day comes when you’re out there racing, and you’re doing well because you toughed it out when your mind wanted you to rest, and maybe you surprise yourself.  Maybe you were afraid that you didn’t get in enough miles, but then you wind up crushing  the stage you most feared like it was nothing.  Maybe you wake up on day two or day three or day four and you think “how am I going to do this?” but your body remembers.  Just do it.

You reach the finish line with some gas left in the tank and you feel like a million bucks. 

Maybe training is not so bad.

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