Open Source Athlete - January 2014 Edition

Tuesday, 31st December 2013

“He who is silent is forgotten; he who abstains is taken at his word;

he who does not advance, falls back; he who stops is overwhelmed, distanced, crushed; he who ceases to grow greater becomes smaller; he who leaves off, gives up; the stationary condition is the beginning of the end—it is the terrible symptom which precedes death. To live, is to achieve a perpetual triumph: it is to assert one's self against destruction, against sickness, against the annulling and dispersion of one's physical and moral being. It is to will without ceasing, or rather to refresh one's will day by day." Henri Frederic

My Open Source Athlete posts have been few and far between this year, I know. So in the throes of gripping to my life with my fingernails as I was there wasn’t a lot of time for reflection and sharing.  Today is New Year’s Eve, and what better time to look back and see what this year has taught me.

A few years ago I developed my philosophy of More Than The Finish Line, which effectively focused on life’s journey, and living “it” outside of my comfort zone – actively avoiding my comfort zone and letting go of finish lines.

I am a huge proponent of the idea that, “if you want to talk the talk, then you have to walk the walk.” I need to be accountable for my ideas by living them myself.

This is not always easy.

Nothing has quite embodied the feeling of the journey and life beyond the comfort zone quite as much as 2013 has. No other period of my life have I perched so far beyond my comfort zone that often I couldn’t even catch a glimpse of its outer edges. There were moments when I longed to be nestled in its familiar embrace, to have the uncertainty and adrenalin drain from my person and relax.

But what a ride!

When I look back at the year I feel a quiet sense of accomplishment for being true to myself by living up to my own expectations and the rules that I set myself for living a full and eventful life.

The missus and I recently discussed personal passions and I couldn’t quite put a finger on mine, and she said ‘gritty sufferance in the pursuit of finding out who you are and what you are capable of.’ Gritty sufferance doesn’t sound like much fun, and yet, how exhilarating.

In early January, Kirsten, the hound, and I, packed our bags and moved from Cairns, Australia to Pagosa Springs in Colorado. It was a balmy 110F with 95% humidity when we left and it was 10 below freezing when we arrived.

Pretty quickly I learnt that 0 Celsius was a warm day, and that if I couldn’t run in snow, I’d be house bound until April. Training through the back end of winter and early spring was challenging, but it made everything else seem easy – especially race day in slightly warmer climates. 

We threw ourselves head on into a new country, new seasons, new faces, a new side of the road to drive on, new time zone, mountain townliving, altitude, the not for profit world, event management and race directing. We felt punch drunk from new everything.

I spent the year focusing on training for and racing the Leadville 100mile run again, after a tough performance in the Grand Slam ofUltrarunning in 2012. I experienced my first DNF ever in any distance and race format, and I was once again tested thoroughly on my ability to heed my ownadvice and live what I waxed lyrical about. Thanks to More Than The Finish Line, I moved on quickly and was soon suffering again at the Wasatch 100mile run – this time as a pacer. 

In between the travelling and racing we were thrown totally out of our comfort zones in orchestrating awesome events. Until this year I had only ever paid an entry fee and raced. This year, we were charging entry fees and putting on races. I now totally sympathize with RD’s around the world – it’s a tough, but rewarding gig.

I was also lucky enough not to bonk and run my fastest ever half-marathon by a margin of 40 seconds. Not bad for being 3 years older and heavier than the last PR. 

Living in a Colorado town I found my life sprinkled with all things ranching and horses, and it lit a spark in me to go in a new direction and set some big audacious goals. Whilst I was battling to fit more hours into the day I decided that my next challenge along the journey of More Than TheFinish Line would be to ride endurance horse events with a 2015 goal of competing in the Tevis Cup 100 mile One-Day Endurance Horse Ride. Joining the ranks of the few that have both run and ridden the Western States route. With two falls and many more to go, my learning curve has been almost vertical.

I have also set myself a target of running a 2:38 marathon (because I’m 38 this year) and chasing the elusive 1:15 (and possible some change) half-marathon.

To look back, 2013 has been a great year of adventure, ups and downs, steep learning curves and very little time spent in my warm and fuzzy comfort zone.

When I compare myself 12 months ago to the person I am now, there is a monumental shift, a dozen cuts to my character. It could be 12 years. I am so grateful for that.

I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be very similar. 

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