There is a quote that I first found in an old edition of National Geographic way back in August. I had attended my Aunt's Wedding over on Vancouver Island, and the following morning, while suffering through a hang over that could only be justified by catching up with family members you had not seen in years, I stumbled across this:
"Indian mystics will tell you that by self-inflicted tortures the soul reaches through flesh-numbing ecstasy toward those higher states of being that lie between it and the Absolute"
No matter how I sliced it, my self inflicted tortures of the day were by no means making me feel like I was connecting with a higher power!
For my racing however, this really struck a cord. From suffering through 115 degree heat, and sleeping just over twenty seven hours in nine days, during Primal Quest Utah 06, to loosing seven toenails on my West Coast Trail - Juan De Fuca Trail adventure run in 07, and every single event in between, and since those two, it has all been completely self inflicted torture. So why? Why sleep under a $0.99 space blanket on a bed of rocks, for three hours a night, for over a week on end. Why run a hundred miles non-stop, when everything in my entire being is screaming at me to quit. Why fly half way around the world, spending thousands of dollars in the process, to run, bike, and paddle myself into a sleep deprived state of oblivion. Why?
The answer is not simply because I can, or because it's there. The answer is not, why not? It's not because I really like to throw away all of my hard earned cash. The answer is not even that I really like pain! The answer, for me at least, is that I have truly felt ALIVE during each and every race I've ever participated in. The training helps me to fully appreciate who I am, where I live, and how fortunate I happen to be. The racing allows me to test myself against some of the best in the world, and to walk away a better person in the end. A more balanced, complete, accomplished, and most of all more confident individual.
Adventure Racing and Ultra Running has given me so much in life. First and foremost, my health...here they are...some of my dreaded 'fat pics'. I never thought I'd post these on here, but I am no longer embarrassed by these. Instead they give me a sense of pride, in knowing how far I've come. From absolute scratch, to winning the occasional race, in five short years. Yes these pics are old. From the year 2000 to be exact. But they are by no means my 'worst' pics, just thankfully the only ones that have been digitized. At my largest, I was over thirty five pounds heavier then my current racing weight of about 150lbs.
(pictures from N.Z., not my folks, more like 'adoptive parents' during the holidays down there)
In 2001 I started to get in shape. 2002 was a year of working up north, 2003 a year of travel, and 2004 I discovered running and adventure racing...and I've never looked back. I am finally living the life that I always dreamed of.
Beyond 'just my health'(which we all know, is all that really matters) these sports have given me so much more. They have inspired my dreams, goals, and desires. These sports have given me something to truly pursue wholeheartedly and with absolutely all of my energy. Training for these events has forced me into 'living' each and every day of my life. It has allowed me to take hold of MY life and do with it as I please.
2009 is a brand new year, a fresh start for all of us. How fortunate are we to annually get a chance to start over again, to reassess who we are, where we are, and if we are truly living our lives...or simply existing and waiting for the inevitable to unfold?
We are already half way through January. Before you blink the snow will be gone and the sun will be shining high in the sky on a late summers evening. Before you have time to stop and appreciate that, the leaves will be on the ground and the mountain tops will be showing evidence of the falling temperatures yet again. Count to ten, and you'll be running around trying to take care of your last minute shopping list. Open your eyes, and we'll be right back here again, if we're lucky, in 2010. One year older, one year wiser (although always debatable), and one year closer to whatever our own expiry date happens to be. So what are you going to do with your year? What are you going to do with the greatest gift of all...your life?
We only get one shot at this game called life, it is not a dress rehearsal, 'Tomorrow is promised to no one', and even though we all know this so definitively, we still become complacent in our ways. We ignore, distract, and get into the habit of saying maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe next month, maybe next year...some people even seem to be planning for their next life.
IF you wake up tomorrow...because the simple fact of the matter is that not all of us will, do one thing differently, take just five minutes to think of the last friend or relative you have lost. What do you think they would say to you...what do you think they themselves would do differently...if they were given just one more chance at life, just one more day on this beautiful planet we call home?
This is your chance, this is your time, this is your life. Don't be afraid to live it, it's the only one you'll ever get!