Read my “Upcoming Races” page and you will see that I am debating between running the Antelope Canyon 50 Mile Ultra in February and the Monument Valley 50 Mile Ultra in March. Both offer a sacred experience on Navajo lands and views of some of the most spectacular landscape features in the west. Either choice will be epic and leave me with memories that I cherish for the rest of life.
I first started considering the Antelope Canyon 50 mile ultra when I got an email letting me know that registration would be coming up soon. I don’t recall signing up for the race companies updates, or for information about this race specifically, yet somehow my name got on the list and I was notified. The notice was timely as I was just contemplating what I should do for my first 50 mile race. In no time, at all my heart became set on this race.
So like any good ultra runner, I started to do a little homework, visiting the website, checking out cut-off times, studying the course details, getting excited. Next, I reached out to a friend I knew had run Antelope Canyon to get her thoughts. It was at this point that I read her race report and boy did I get spooked. Not because of the sand, even though there is 40 miles of it. Not because of the climbs or ladders or narrow slot canyons. Spooked because of the proximity to the edge of the cliffs.
This race winds “alongside” the iconic Horseshoe Bend. Though alongside is a bit euphemistic as “alongside” = 5 to 6 feet from the edge of an 800 foot drop!
Just thinking about being that close to the edge makes me sick with fear. My vertigo sets in with just the thought. I can even feel the terror as I fall to my death. Twice already I have had nightmares about sliding off the slickrock and hanging from the edge of the cliff with my fingertips. Yeah, it’s that real.
Yet even with this terror so palpable, I can’t let go of the dream of running this race. Surely it will be tough enough and do I really need the added challenge of overcoming my biggest fear? I pause however to ask myself, “Is fear the right reason to not do a race”? A conflict with a kid’s sporting event, an anniversary, a birthday, illness, a broken leg….these are good reasons to choose a different race. But if the only reason is my fear, is that enough?
As I pondered this, I started looking back through some old photo folders. About five years ago, I made a vision board. A vision board gives voice and life to dreams that are only in your heart of hearts. The photos for my vision board include things like camping with my family, doing yoga, trail running, growing old with my husband, drinking wine with girlfriends. You could have knocked me out of my chair with a feather when I scrolled down and found a photo of Horseshoe Bend.
Shocked beyond belief, I just stared at the photo, my heart fluttering. What does it mean that I chose this photo years ago to represent my dreams?
Often times, our dreams don’t manifest in the way we planned. At the time, I was likely thinking that I wanted to visit the southwest someday, maybe even specifically the Grand Canyon. We were living on the Oregon Coast and desperate to explore somewhere that wasn’t wet and gloomy. Now, I am beginning to believe that by putting this photo in that folder 5 years ago, I paved the path that is leading me to this 50 mile race.
I am a BIG believer that everything happens for a reason. Maybe running this race is what is meant to be….maybe it is something else. I am still not certain if I will do this race, but I can’t help but wonder, “What will my decision be”?