2012: free your mind and the rest will follow

It has been almost 1 month since I finished the Gore-Tex Transalpine run, an 8 day trail running race through the Alps from Germany to Northern Italy.  It took me some time to get to the point where I really wanted to share some of my feelings about the race this year.

I have resolved that there are a few things that were chewing away at me and that I felt disappointed in myself about, while there are other things that have never made me feel more proud.  At the end of day, a race is just a race and it isn't worth dwelling over or rehashing the what if's or I should-coulda-woulda's for too long.  So I guess this is my way of laying down my cards and moving on...

For starters, I don't really think I was honest with my expectations going into the race this year. I won't go into grave detail, but I am now ready to be more open with myself and comfortable stating more specific goals before racing.  Although unintentionally, I believe the dishonesty with myself prior to the start, effected my focus when I needed it most and ultimately lead to emotional decision making.  I really struggled with my focus after my partner had to drop out and there are just things that have eaten away at me this past month. 

Dealing with the disappointment, emotion, confusion, stress and just overall sense of sadness when Sarah had to pull out was way harder on both of us than we could have ever expected. You know, I think part of that is because Sarah and I are such good friends. It was OUR dream. OUR journey. OUR unconditional dedication to the training, the investment, the time, the HOPE we hung on to and ultimately the commitment we made to support one another no matter what happens or the sacrifices we made to help whomever needed it the most at any given time. Our partnership was solid this year. We built off last year and we had already been through some set backs and surprises in our training leading up to the event. So when the first 3 stages brought set back after set back for Sarah, I did my best to help her in every way and stand by her side. She did the same for me.  What surprised me was after she pulled herself out the morning of stage 4, it was like I lost my sense of purpose.  I struggled to find new focus.  Not because I wasn't capable or that I doubted myself, but more so questioning ethics, morals and desperately seeking approval and acceptance to continue on my own. I needed to give myself permission to go on without her and not feel guilty.  That was the hardest part of the whole race for me.  It played with my mind and emotions for the next 3 stages.  On and off.  Run.  Not run.  It took me 3 days to settle in and finally feel okay with it.  Of course, during that time my performance was up and down based on a series of events that could have avoided if I was thinking clearly.   

It took me a month before I could say I was proud of myself for finishing and actually believe it.  It is a strange thing, hanging on to races like this when you invest so much.  The greatest risk is that you bang your head against the wall, debit your bank accounts and have faith in your story line finish.  The reality is you can do all of these things over and over again and still not have it go the way you want it to.  The lessons always come back to same place.  Live each day to the fullest and don't regret taking risks.  The greatest risks in life are not risking at all.  Besides, despite a less than favorable outcome for Sarah and I as a team at TAR this year - the journey to the Alps started off with a goal that was much more than just about running.  Our sponsors, Western Financial and True Outdoors, set the stage when their generosity to sponsor our return to the Alps and inspired the gift to give back.  Together with an incredible community and friends and family we raised over $5,000.00 for the BC Cancer Society and had one of the most memorable running experiences of my life when a group of us ran from Kelowna to Naramata this summer for the cause.

Races will come and go and just like everything else in life, if they always go the way you want them to, life would be pretty rootin' tootin' boring.  We all need to be challenged and we all need to endure disappointments from time to time.  It will either shape who we can become or reiterates who we already are.  It adds to a story line in our legacy and teaches us to recognize what matters most.  So I say bring on the next adventure and bring on the next challenge! A little grounding here and there is good for everyone and I have certainly embraced mine.