Getting ready to race

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.

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