180 Days – Perspective found on the top of a mountain

“When we retell this story, the ice patch was 50 meters long.”

“And you did a pirouette!”  Said Jenna.

“Perfect!”  I smiled.

Just as surprising was the simple fact that I’d just hit a solid patch of ice in my running shoes, in the dark and slid across, I dare say gracefully, managing not to actually break anything!  Were my bad karma days finally coming to an end?

It was nearing sunrise as Jenna, Alexa and I descended down Mt. Baldy.  We met at the base of the mountain at 2:30am and probably actually got moving around 3.  The climb had become pretty slow as we ran into ice and snow nearing the ski lodge.  We slipped and slid, landing in knee deep holes occasionally, watching carefully where we stepped in the dark.  Avoiding the snow and walking in a darker patch either meant we were on rocks/trail or we were stepping off the side of a cliff.  Every year, people die hiking Baldy in the snow.  We were relatively safe, but still airing on the side of caution.

We had planned to go all the way to the top and watch the sunrise, but those plans were foiled by the ice/snow.  When we got to the dangerous single track with drop offs on either side, we opted to choose sense over valor.  But it was definitely not without its excitement!  The snow was simply beautiful and we found some fresh mountain lion tracks close to the top.  All in all, it was the adventure that I craved.

I had not intended to go for an all night outing, but when the text came through with my invite midday on Saturday, I couldn’t resist.  I’d been working for 13 days straight and it was time to disappear, if only for one night.  I don’t suggest that any of what I did that night was good for my training – slipping and sliding on ice while completely sleep depriving myself, but quite honestly there was a lot on my mind and I wasn’t going to sleep that night anyway.  I needed some perspective.  The top of a mountain always seems to have a good one!

Ultrarunning is probably the single most important and defining thing to me.  My off season forced me to reflect on what it had become in my life.  I removed the words ‘I cannot live without ___’  from my vocabulary.  My big life lesson has been this:  The moment that you place expectations on something or someone to define you is the moment that it will disappoint you.  You are who you are because you created it, not because of anything or anyone else.  We have guiding hands along the way, we find peace and happiness in places such as the one that I traveled to on Saturday night, and there is something very healthy about that.  Not healthy is thinking that you can’t live without whatever that defining factor is.

I’m motivated, happy, I have goals that will make me a better person for attempting and I have some solid and strong people in my life that value me.  But at the end of the day, my life is my own, my foundation dictated by me, and I am who I am despite my accomplishments, not because of them.

There weren’t any answers lying under a rock somewhere at the top of Baldy.  Maybe in my half delirious state I expected that.  But when I finally fulfilled my Sunday obligations, I crawled into bed (waking up only to eat an entire package of bacon) and excitedly put on my work out clothes at 4:45am the next morning to head to CrossFit, I realized that night had in fact given me some wonderful perspective.  The type you might say would put one in a very healthy place to actually pull off a big mountain 100 mile race in just a few short months!

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