So I’m on the trail. I have been on the trail, this not-trail of a trail, for over three hours now. My best bud and I picked a ridge to run, in the dead of the day and the deader heat of summer, and have committed to getting to the end of it.
Here’s the caveat: we’re out of water. We’re out of water, but we don’t seem to be running out of ridge, and didn’t have the foresight to research its distance before setting upon our bush-wacking. Our bodies are aching, our heads pounding, and all of our instinct is telling us to ditch the non-trail and abandon the ridge, descend to society and find some damn water. Everything around us is telling us to stop.
In this moment, I can think of so many times I’ve felt like this. Perhaps in less extreme-we-could-actually-get-hurt-here ways, but the sentiment felt all the same: that what I was doing was crazy, that I should find a great deal more comfort if I descended, ended, took a break. Examples: Three quarters into almost any 4+ hour venture, a painful final burst in the second-to-last interval, when your legs are burning but the plyos are calling, almost any time I hang from a pull-up bar.
And in all those instances, in an oxymoronic move to survive in our sport, we keep on going. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there was a moment that I almost didn’t.
In fact, at a very young age, when presented with the chance to cross-country ski, I almost didn’t.
So what is that? The cross-section between motivation and instinct that fuels us to do this, the hardest sport in the world, despite so many signs (both within and outside of us) telling us that running up hills/shooting down them/rollerskiing with no brakes/continuing to pursue pull-ups as fast as we can is totally bonkers.
Perhaps it traces back to the first moment we almost didn’t, and decided to anyway, and what happened afterwards. Perhaps it’s proving ourselves wrong, that devilish little voice that suggests you can’t, that keeps us pushing past it over and over and over again. Perhaps as we continue to ignore that voice, it grows more and more quiet in the wake of all that was once called crazy, now termed accomplishment.
Perhaps that’s why we do this, because in one sense or another, we accomplish something every day.
All I know, is that after experiencing my most recent moment that I almost didn’t, every time I drive home and see that ominous ridge hanging over my landscape, I’m glad that I did.
-AP (Jul. 26, 2016 4:56)