One thing about me is I’m always searching for the next big thing. There are always races to run, adventures to have. Since my last blog post, I went to Kenya and did a big thing, running in Beyond The Ultimate’s For Rangers Ultra, covering 230km over 5 days through some of Kenya’s most beautiful and game-rich conservation areas. What an experience that was! Every day we saw scores of animals: antelope, giraffes, zebras, elephants, rhinos, water buffalo, ostriches and on and on, sometimes from really close up. I even got to pet an orphaned baby rhino named Mei Mei. An unbelievable experience…one of those things they call once in a lifetime that truly is once in a lifetime. Add a vacation onto that which included a safari and some lazy days on the beach at the Indian Ocean, and you could say August was a pretty good month!
My next big thing after that wasn’t quite as big, but it was yet another try at the elusive 100 mile distance. I really thought I could do it this time. I was so hungry for it, but alas, once again it was not to be. I’m not sure what went wrong, but my right knee started hurt fairly early on, and it just continued to get more and more painful as I went on. Finally after 115km, I decided to pack it in and live to run another day. There will be other 100 milers, and one of these times I am going to get it!!
So, now I am on to my next really big thing. This one is scaring the crap out of me. One month from today I will be toeing the starting line in Edale, UK for the start of the 2019 Montane Spine Race. So if you don’t know about this race, it is about 430km long with a time limit of 168 hours, or 7 days. Unlike the other multi-day races I have done where there is a set distance every day and the clock stops while you are in camp, during the Spine Race, the clock never stops and there are no set distances. There are 5 checkpoints where they feed you and give you a place to sleep, but other than that, you’re basically on your own, going as far as you want between sleeping, sleeping trailside or in any shelter you may come across, eating when and where you can, and just trying to get as many kilometres behind you each day as possible. And oh, did I mention that you also need to navigate? And that it’s winter? And daylight is limited to just a handful of hours each day? I’m terrified. I waffle each day between thinking I can get it done, to wondering what the heck was I thinking because I’ll never be able to do this! Whatever is going to happen though, I will give it my all, just like I always do.
So lately I’ve been spending all my free time (and money!!) researching and buying up gear, studying maps, reading everything I can lay my eyes on about the Pennine Way, making lists of places to potentially sleep or buy food, stressing over which shoes to wear, and of course training, training, training, all with an 8kg pack on my back. I think I’ve done all I can. I think I’m as ready as I can be. But I’m still scared.
There’s something to be said about doing things that scare you, things that push you outside your comfort zone. We’ve all probably seen the meme that says outside your comfort zone is where growth happens. I happen to believe that is true. When I’m preparing for an event like this that’s super scary, my anxiety levels invariably rise to sometimes intolerable levels. I cry a lot, I feel anxious, I feel scared, I feel like running away, I feel unprepared, but in the end, I always fight through it and show up at that starting line. And even though it’s made me feel very uncomfortable sometimes for weeks, I’m never sorry I did it, even when it doesn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. There’s always something to be learned from it, not only something to be learned from the race itself, but also something to be learned about myself, about how I handle stress and anxiety, how I handle success and failure, how I handle adversity. This is the growth. If I never went there in the first place, the growth would never happen. Plus I just like doing really cool things.
So go ahead. Find your next big thing. Do something that scares you. Push yourself outside your comfort zone. Grow a little, or maybe a lot, and have some fun adventures along the way.
Just keep moving forward.