I’ve never been very good at believing in myself but I am great at having big dreams and working hard to get there. For many years, my career was the focus of this drive. I am great at my job and have accomplished a lot but am ready to take a breather from pursuing the next great work challenge. One day this will change, but accepting my happiness where I currently am and doing that well is equally important.
But the fire to push for new limits and new goals is still burning bright. Trail and ultra-running have given me a focus for that passion and a perfect proving ground for my limits. Ultra-running tests both physical and mental capabilities. There is hard work that must be done to prepare the body for the grind it will experience during a race. 8, 12, 24 hours or more on your feet moving relentlessly forward is no small feat.
Even greater is the mental strength required to complete an ultra and this is what fuels my passion for the sport.
Having struggled with depression for most of my life, finding mental strength is a greater accomplishment than anything my body will ever do. Depression’s ultimate goal in my life is to convince me I am not worthy of continuing and that I should just give up. I love proving my depression wrong!
When I am getting dirty on the trails, dust swirling around with each footfall, and my legs and lungs tired, the easy answer would be to call it quits. 50K into a 50 mile race, I could craft a story that sings of great accomplishments. A 50K is a great accomplishment after all. But it isn’t finishing what I started and giving up gives into my depression.
I no longer have a death wish like I did once upon a time. Rather I have an intense desire to live life to its fullest. It probably comes from the dark days when I longed for life to end. My greatest fear is wasting the gift of life that I fought so hard to appreciate. In many ways, I feel like I am one of the lucky ones who dreamed of death yet escaped. Too many do not have the fortune, means, or the tools to escape the grips of depression. But I found a path, beaten and dusty though it may be, that allowed me to be free.
So when I am struggling through a long run or staring at the last 19 miles of that 50 miler, I can dig deep into the reserves of mental fortitude that I have cultivated and grown so diligently over the years. It is a tool in my arsenal that I earned through blood, sweat and tears. And it is that tool that I strengthen and sharpen with each use. It only becomes stronger each time I exercise it.
My next great challenge and exercise of my mental fortitude…my first 100K race.
I recently registered for the Zion 100K in April 2019. As I train for this race, I will have to be mentally strong to focus on this goal, to get up in the morning, to embrace the mundane tasks necessary to take me one step closer. I feel confident that I can do this and I know that when I come out the other side, I will only be stronger to tackle the challenges of life.
I learned so much about myself during the Antelope Canyon 50 Miler, I look forward to what Zion will teach me next.
The journey continues….