So, I did the thing again. Closed my eyes, hit send, and promptly went into panic mode. Then I went running downstairs to where my daughter Clare was watching television, and with my heart pounding and panic in my voice I said “Clare, I just did something”. Without skipping a beat her reply was “What did you sign up for?” Yes, my family knows me so well.
This time, I accidently signed up for Beyond the Ultimate’s Desert Ultra in November 2017. A mere 250 km over 5 stages in the Namib Desert in southern Africa. Self-supported of course. Only this time, I guess it wasn’t quite as accidental as it often is. This time I thought about it first. Actually, I thought about it for quite some time. I read the stage information, looked at the map to find out where Namibia even is, even checked flights to find out how long it would take me to travel there. I actually thought about it for a few weeks. I wanted to do it, but something was holding me back. What exactly was holding me back, I am not sure. Well, it is going to be hard. I mean, the long stage is 100km! 100 km is long even when it is all by itself, let alone on the 4th day, after already having gone 135 km in the previous 3 days. But then again, they are all hard and that hasn’t held me back before. Maybe it was because Namibia is really far away from home. I have never been that far away before, but then again, Peru is pretty far away too and that never stopped me. Maybe I was having doubts about my ability to complete such a task? I don’t know, not consciously, but maybe. I have had doubts before, but that never stopped me. So, I thought about it, and visited and revisited the BTU website, read and re-read the stage information that I had asked for to help me make my decision, and I just kind of let the idea fester in my brain, still unsure.
Actually, I think it was to my detriment that I actually thought this one through. Usually I just grab onto an idea and go with it before I have had a chance to think it through, and save all the doubt and worry for when its already a done deal. Not this time though. I have had all this time to think of the what-ifs before I even signed up. One of the hallmarks of anxiety is asking yourself “what if” questions a hundred times a day…what if it’s too hard, what if it’s too hot, what if I fail, what if I don’t like it there, and on and on and on. Things that sometimes seem totally ridiculous when you actually stop and consider them (what if I get eaten by a cheetah?). One day though, I sat myself down (not actually, I do all my best thinking while out running) and asked myself what was actually holding me back? It is a question I have often asked others when they have been faced with a decision. What’s holding you back? So I asked myself, “Self, what’s holding you back?” And I thought through all the things I mentioned above, all the crazy what ifs…it will be hard, it is far away, it will be hot, what if I can’t do it? And then I answered them all….yes it will be hard, but I can do hard. Yes it is far away, but I have wanted to visit Africa since I was old enough to know what Africa was, and in this day and age, let’s face it, far doesn’t matter. I can stay in touch with those at home almost as easily from Namibia as I can from down the street. Yes, it will be hot, but by now I am a pro at heat acclimation. Which brought me to the last one….what if I can’t do it? Well, my answer to that is, what if I can? I will never know the answer to that without giving it a shot, now will I? So, what was holding me back? Nothing really. Just my own insecurities and anxious mind. And as I have said before, I work really hard at not letting those things define or confine me. Yes, it is scary, but most of the time scary things are worth doing. And I have often said we need to seize the moment and not put off the things that we want to do, because you never know what life will bring you.
So, when I got home from my run that day, I sent David a quick text telling him I was going to sign up, he replied with a short, sweet “ok”, and I filled in the form, closed my eyes and hit send. Then panicked. But a funny thing happened. Once I got over my initial panic, I felt like everything was going to be ok. Then I put the Desert Ultra into a compartment in the back of my mind for awhile, because right now I’ve got other things to worry about. In just over 2 weeks I will be toeing the starting line of the Grand to Grand Ultra, and in February I will be heading off to Sweden to play in the snow at the Ice Ultra. I think I need to give my backpack a name, because it looks like it wont be leaving my back anytime soon.
So, what’s holding you back?
Just keep moving forward.
photo cred to Beyond the Ultimate