Sometimes in life, we are thrust into situations that we don’t like; maybe they make us feel out of control or uncomfortable, we don’t like when there is an unknown or uncertainty about an outcome. That is how I felt going into the Squamish race, I was unsure that I could complete it. Just like most people, I have dreams & goals. Big ones. However, sometimes there is something standing in the way that is bigger than what I want to accomplish, and that is FEAR- Fear of being uncomfortable and out of control. I have never been a risk taker. I have zero desire to jump out of a plane or swim with sharks (that’s just crazy) I like my comfortable life, in my comfortable town, with my predictable day.
That is… until I get that quiet little nudge that I could do, be, and achieve some of those lofty goals of mine, but there is a cost. In order to reach some of those goals, it would require me to be vulnerable. What if I fail? Everyone will know and they will all laugh. Let’s just forget about it and keep on chugging along with my predictable day....... <<Insert the fear of Squamish race weekend here>> ;)
Squamish is an event that I've wanted to do for a while now due to its acclaimed difficulty and location. This race has a few climbs that are steep and (for me) relentless as it winds through some mountain trail. There are a few distances to chose from, I was taking on the 23k distance. It would present quite a challenge for me coming from these here flat lands. Did I mention it takes place in B E A U T I F U L British Colombia, Canada! Seriously, I couldn't stop "ohh-ing and Ahh-ing" of the beauty!
Over the last several months my life has been in a constant transition and I felt like It was a brand new me starting this race. I had no idea what my mind, let alone body, was capable of anymore. It may as well have been my first race. I was already getting things wrong, I was trying to keep others in view who I knew were going too fast for me in these conditions and hoping that I wouldn't end up paying for it later on. Then there was the fact that I hadn't taken enough water and ran out of fluid by mile 4 and had about another 5 before I would see an aid station. I panickingly drank from a creek. (hoping I don't pay for that one either) As the miles went on, I found myself running alone with no runners in view and that's when I realized that I was running way slower than I thought. I tried to keep a relative perspective on it, I have overtaken about 7 people in the first half, if I could keep them at bay and somehow make sure only speedy 50k runners passed me, but the feeling of defeat was winning the mind game.
I kept repeating to myself the very thing I was afraid of saying- If I just finish I can derive satisfaction from “another finish”- but that was exactly what I DIDN’T want. I didn't want "just another finish", I wanted to feel accomplished that I went into an incredibly hard race and finished near whatever my goal in my mind was and I didn't get that. But the most valuable lesson I learned is knowing that I had to become something different in order to get to the end, that somehow I became an improved human who learned to power through the suck and can take that improvement forward in my life.
I usually aim to have a sprint finish for the last mile, not this time. I was too exhausted. Run, scream, whine, slow-shuffle, repeat until I got about a quarter mile from the finish and saw a familiar face- Mike had come out to run me in. I had pulled out my phone at some point and told him I had already given up on myself, this was not my race, I couldn't do it. He wouldn't let me quit on myself.
The finish line eventually came into view and I was so thankful. As I crossed the finish line I had a moment of relief that I was done but I was also very upset with myself that this race didn’t have the outcome that I had sent my mind on in the months, weeks and days coming into this. There was a release of knowing that the discomfort had ended, but I didn't immediately have the swell of pride in my own strength as this shiny new beautiful medal hung heavy round my humbled, tired and broken body. As I looked through every post I had made about this race, I noted that they all lacked my usual ‘I’m proud/happy/excited etc about this finish’. I might not be happy about my finish time, but in the days since the race I have found some sort of pride in the fact that I finished an incredibly hard race course, even when I wanted to quit, that I somehow held onto myself just enough to muddle through it. I know what this course is all about now, and believe me when I say I'm already planning on coming back in 2017 and I'm gonna train harder and get that feeling of accomplishment with a shiny new course PR-no matter how many races and training runs it takes me, I will never give up. I will never stop. No matter how difficult or how painful, I will run. I can do anything and run anywhere.