A few weeks ago we did a popular North Shore hike that we had previously done for the first time in 2011, Mount Harvey. It has spectacular scenery, on one side of the ridge the Pacific ocean with a chain of islands stretching out as far as the eye can see , and on the other side a sea of beautiful coastal mountains with no end in sight. But it wasn’t just the fantastic scenery that had me reminiscing on this trip.
The first time I hiked Mount Harvey I was training for my first road marathon. I was following a strict 5 day a week running plan and feeling the effects on my body and mind. I was feeling overwhelmed with the training and the physical toll it was taking on my body. It was important to me to still be able to train for the marathon and to also be able to spend time in the mountains, so I felt the need to always be pushing myself. That day in April 2011 proved to be the breaking point for me.
The day prior to the hike I had run an 18km training run, which at the time was a long distance for me. I felt tired starting the hike, but felt pretty good, until we started the uphill section. I slowed down to a snails pace and Leigh shot past me, making his way up the hill. Looking up the steep incline,allowing the tiredness to weigh so heavy on my mind and body and watching Leigh move in a seemingly effortless way up the hill, proved to be too much. I stopped in my tracks overcome with frustration and feelings of not being able to continue. At that moment I felt so tired, so heavy with emotion that I could barely breathe. Leaning on a tree, out of sight of Leigh, I started to sob. I felt useless, exhausted and irritated with myself and my physical limitations. Feeling pretty sorry for myself, I said to myself, between sobbing breaths,“I can’t do this” “I’m too tired”.
It lasted a few minutes before I had to tell myself that no one feels sorry for me but me. I chose this and I can’t expect anyone to have sympathy for me. In my own words of tough love I needed to “suck it up buttercup”. So in that moment I had to make a decision, I wiped the tears from my eyes, composed myself and headed up towards Leigh, who was none the wiser about my mini-breakdown. The remainder of that hike was fantastic. After that moment of self-reflection in the trees, It was like a mental fog had lifted and I appreciated that despite feeling tired I had the opportunity to make a decision, a decision to realize that I had the energy to be out somewhere so beautiful and a body in a condition that took me to these amazing places.
Fast forward 3 years later for our second trip to Mount Harvey. I am now training for my first 50 mile(80km) trail race and still trying to train and spend time in all of the other activities I enjoy. The day before our hike, I had finished a 34km training run on trail and got an afternoon of climbing in. Waking up the next day I felt great. Being on that trail again brought back all the memories from the first trip, yet this time was so different. There was no mini-breakdown, there were no tough moments; there was only the sheer joy in being out there and feeling grateful for the opportunity to be able to use my body’s energy to the full.
I guess I wanted to write about this because it’s important to think about where you are right now and how far it is from where you have come. Perspective is vital when it comes to any pursuit. We can become bogged down in statistics of where we should be, or compare ourselves to others; when really we should only be looking to ourselves and past memories to propel us forward. It’s incredible to watch how much changes and how the body adapts. But you will only appreciate these changes if you are present in each moment and fully appreciate the journey…because even though the journey is going to be long with a few bumps and tears along the way, it’s always worth the struggle.