So…Friday night has arrived. The Sunday morning trail race is looming large for me about now, as I run down my list of things I want to be sure I’ve gotten ready: 2XU running tights; my fave blue singlet with pockets for gels; my gels; maps and driving directions printed and ready to go; rehearsing the driving route in my mind because I drive alone without a navigator and that part is scary. Then planning the actual race itself, where I’ll go hard, where I’ll hold back, whether I need to bring water or not. And then I get scared.
I take a deep breath, and remember just how many races I have done. I do this to remind myself not to be afraid. Sometimes it works. I recall taking a ferry to an outlying island off Hong Kong for my first ever adventure race; the minibus up to Sai Kung on a rainy Tuesday just so I would know where I was going on raceday; drives to Lysterfield and the You Yangs; drives to the Wombat State Forest where the speed limit on the way was 120 km/hour; learning to drive up a mountain in the fog at six am.
In regular life, I avoid risks. I let my husband drive. It is only when I race that I force myself to step up and become the person I really want to be. Confident; assured; unafraid. Well, not unafraid, really. But not afraid to face up to the fear.
Someone asked me today if I was doing the Surfcoast Ultra (I think that is what it is called). It is 100km. I nearly fell off my chair. I’d need two weeks and a few B&B’s to accomplish that one. But this fellow thought I might be doing it. That makes me pause. Makes me wonder, could I, one day, do that?
Once, I wouldn’t walk a trail that didn’t have a railing. Bear Mountain in New York was my sole hiking experience. It is interesting to note how I have changed since those days, how life has shaped me, how I have shaped my life.
So, as I prepare for the 14.2 Salomon Trail Series Race #3 out in Silvan, the Dandenongs, Melbourne, Australia, I think about all this. I think about how I began on Long Island, in a tiny town with no hills, surrounded by sea. I was a 400-metre runner on the track; fast, flat, and painful, that was. Once, I ran 2km in a high school race. That felt like forever. I left Long Island seventeen years ago; I’ve run 15km in one go in the mountains of Hong Kong. I’ve become someone I wouldn’t have even recognised.
This I owe to trail running, adventure racing, living in two different countries. In these places I forced my own limits, and found a new self.
Silvan on Sunday. I can’t wait to see what I find out there this time.