Monday, March 9, 2020

Are You Lost?

It has been some time since since I found myself in such big places. I seem to get lost too often and re-surface with very little frequency.

Kiting on Cirque Peak - Patrice Bance photo.

I get lost in my work, I get lost in planning, I get lost in setting goals, I get lost in stress and I get lost in all the neat and shiny stuff that I think I'd like to someday do. Sometimes I get lost for a long time and I make excuses for why I don't need to be found, I'll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes.

And that is just another reason why I should be on the surface more and only get lost when I need to. There are far too many of us leaving this rock and not by choice. Too many regrets left over for us who remain; we still shrug it off and believe it's just what happens to other people. Being lost for too long is the story of sleeping your day away and having only the twilight of your life to tell stories to people who don't care.

So, it is good to resurface in big places. With people who keep drawing you back to what is real and heavy and what matters most. The sky is crushing down on you, the mountains push up, the wind flows and everything that is urgent in your life is obliterated from your core.

Only the most important things will slip back into your mind and you begin to remember why you do this. You remember that being in these big places shuts out the noise and increases the signal. That signal is the people you care about (including yourself), the moments you have left, and how you used your time.

So go ahead and get lost. Just remember you actually live at the surface and the big places are where you need to be.

Monday, February 17, 2020

What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stranger (Stronger?)


There seems to be a lot of it lately. Is it the major life-change I have been going through the last two years (more like 19)? Is it the abrupt  change of direction in my work / professional life? Sure there are a lot of things going on big and small that can cause stress and cause me to go to my drug of choice, or freeze in my tracks because I don't know what to do.

I don't want to sound like I feel sorry for myself, because I don't. Not even a bit. There are a lot of people right now going through tough situations, both personal and professional. I see friends dealing with Cancer, family suffering from terminal disease and so many more out of work and wondering how they will take care of their families. Again I have some major things I need to deal with right now but I won't start by feeling sorry for myself.

I can't say it's not frustrating though. This year I promised myself I would get back into registering and running some Ultra races here in Alberta. My first one was for today and I was smart and dedicated. I have been running a lot since January 4th, created a smart plan and tapered perfectly. Lots of energy and conditioning was good. My forever pace HR has never been lower. What I didn't plan for was getting sick. For the last 24 hours anything I ate has been coming out of both-ends and by 5am this morning I was on empty.

There is a lot of work and time that goes into running a 50km plus race so I had to show up and toe the line. I actually didn't feel too bad when I got there but I woke up with a 97 HR (resting should have been more like 50) and didn't think it would be a big deal. Problem is, running for 5 hours plus is an exercise in depleting resources and I was starting with an empty tank. I actually started out good and was maintaining the 5:30-5:40 / km I trained for but after 2 km I looked at my HR and I was at 165!!! For me that is low-zone 5 which means I only have about an hour of that zone all day, saved for hills and making up time.

Not today. I stopped at 10km and had not even dropped below 165 for the last 55 minutes. A friend ran by and checked in on me and suggested I finish the last 3K to the aid station which I did. But by then everything hurt, like a growing fever, my muscles ached and my head was pounding. I was done. I returned to the start and chatted with Gord, letting him know I was DNF and drove home with my tail between my legs.

It's times like this that I put a lot of pressure on myself and normally get down and frustrated that I did so poorly. Even as shitty as I felt I wondered if I should have walked. A long drive home and the monkeys in my mind assuring me I wasn't cut out for "hard stuff", all I wanted was to crawl in bed and turn off the world for and hour.

Two hours later I woke up in a cold sweat and aching in every joint and back into the bathroom, still nothing staying down. Maybe I was really sick and the stomach bug was kicking my ass and I didn't just give up? Maybe I didn't really make mistakes but just had to deal with factors out of my control? This will be my first DNF and I had to figure out how this is going to affect me from here on out.

And that is just the key right there isn't it? What do I do with this? It's not a life altering moment like some of the events in my life the last two years. But it is another example of some adversity that I have the chance to make something from, or let it just slow me down in life. Do I take this thing that did not go my way, stick it in a pack and carry it around with me? Along with the other crap I carry on my back that weighs me down and breaks my spirit just a little each day. Or do I look at it for what it is, take the time to grieve about it, journal it, forgive myself and others, understand that it is now in the past and I can learn from it or even modify my present life so that I no longer carry it?

I used to joke with friends that my, "give-a-shit" was broken and that those things that once bothered me no longer held their sting. It's easy to not care but that doesn't deal with the baggage on my back. These days I still get upset, hurt, frustrated, scared, and affected by the rocky terrain in life but it doesn't take long before I make the decision to deal and accept the situation. Life is short and for too long I held on to the very things that burn me so what is the point? These days I know how to grieve, and I know that I need to accept and move on if I want some peace and be able to take one foot out of my past. I prefer to stand with both feet in the present and I cherish a little bit of peace in my day even if it's just a 20 minute sit-down with a coffee.

"This To Shall Pass", runs through my head all the time and it is true. The adversity we go through can leave a scar or it can be a big stone with all the others in the pack on your back. I would much rather run my fingers over a deep scar and remember where I got it, learning from it, instead of breaking my spirit by carrying the load for years. It has taken a long time to learn this, but I am here now. Stranger than ever and getting on with my life before the next one hits.