Taking Punches

It has been said that the person who stands at the starting line of an ultra is not the same person who finishes. While that is true, it can also be said that the person who stands at the starting line is not the same one who signed up for that ultra.

Many of us spend hours planning the perfect race, using the perfect training plan and visualizing the perfect outcome. We often miss the fact that life is not perfect. Things change, weather does not cooperate, crews get delayed in traffic, the list goes on and on.

When faced with a unique circumstance, that’s where you are changing. Are you facing the problem head on and adapting to it or are you reacting? Reactions are emotional responses. Getting angry because the weather is bad does nothing to help your situation. It’s weather, there is not one thing you can do to change it. You can, however, adapt to it. If it’s raining, get the rain gear and keep moving. It’s just water after all. If it’s hotter that planned, adjust your pace, drink more water.

Reacting is just a waste of energy, but learning to adapt is what will get you to the finish line. Learning to adapt, that’s the biggest training obstacle, no matter what the distance is. Planning and training for a big race is a process of self-evolution. We must learn ourselves on a deeper level.

Mike Tyson famously said “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” This is why we need to be ready for anything. The situation is always changing, especially in a race setting. So many things can go wrong during a race or during training, we must constantly evolve and adapt to the situations. If your training has not challenged you mentally, then have you really trained at all?

It is the same in life. We continually have plans and paths we wish to follow. And then that punch. Sometimes that punch hits you squarely in the face. We all have that moment in our lives when it all changes, but for some that moment, that punch is bigger. That punch is a life changing health situation. When faced with these types of punches, one can either cower down and hope that the hit isn’t too bad, or they can stand up and face it.

When facing these situations, it seems that the young have a unique stance. They tend to face the situation with more courage and resolve, but they seem to be the only one they know who is facing the same fight. When cancer strikes, how many of your friends have faced that? Then there is the question of moving past the diagnosis and treatment.

First Descents was founded in 2001 by professional kayaker, Brad Ludden. the idea was to allow young cancer survivors a chance to connect not only with others who had shared a similar journey, but to reconnect with themselves.

The idea was to take these survivors on epic multi-day adventures such as, climbing, paddling and surfing. The program has been shown to decrease rates of depression in these fighters while increasing self-confidence. Being with others who have shared in the struggle helps reduce the feelings of isolation, of alienation that comes with the unique battle.

While the programs are life changing, they are not free. This is why, in 2019 I decided to join the First Descents Leadville Trail 100 team. Each year I pledge to raise funds to send these young adults who have been impacted by cancer and other serious health conditions on these adventures.

Ultra-marathons, and running in general, have been the life-changer for me. This is my way of changing for others. Join me in helping these young fighters by donating at my fundraiser. This, my third year on the team, is a little more exciting. I have a donor, who has agreed to match all funds, dollar for dollar, up to my pledged amount. This means, every dollar you donate is worth two dollars to First Descents.

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