When I made my #womanup goal this year "cultivate unfuckwithable baddassery", I was not even sure what that meant. I just knew that I didn't feel right, I didn't feel like myself. I felt a little lost, a little unhappy, a little bit disconnected from myself. Off kilter, off center.
I knew it would take time, work and meandering around in the dark to find my way. Little did I know that the decision to run WS 100 would be a major catalyst for change. The journey to WS would be a journey to myself.
The decision to run WS again took a long time. It felt weighty, heavy, dangerous. But what I've realized over these past few months, is that it was a sleeping dragon to me and that in order to confront it, I needed to find my strength, my courage, calm and self-belief. That, perhaps for the first time in my life, I would need to find what it actually meant to believe in myself, to have confidence, to believe in my own worthiness. Not because of my running, but through my running.
And now, here I am, just a few days before WS and I am filled with gratitude, joy and with a sense of self-regained or perhaps a sense of self found. That extends beyond the race. This race has been a tool, a battle and when I line up on Saturday, it will simply be a test, a challenge in which I can celebrate the work I have done. The outcome simply doesn't matter because I arrived on the start line the best version of myself.
It took this journey to realize that I had not broken through the barrier of self-belief. I still believed in a black and white dichotomy of thinking that you are either cocky (like I was in high school) or self-deprecating. I realize now, I have been afraid to be confident, to believe in myself because somehow I thought it meant overlooking my weakness, being vulnerable to being hurt or blindsided. I didn't see how the experiences of my high school basketball years still held captive my confidence. A month or so again, while doing some filming, Billy Yang asked me as simple question after I talked about my self-flagellation during Sean O'Brien this year: "Why? Why are you so hard on yourself?". That question gnawed at me for days, weeks. Because I didn't know why, I just knew it was what I did and I had always accepted it. But WHY? Because I was afraid if I let myself believe in myself, I would get hurt? Because if I had confidence in myself, I might be disappointed? Because if I let myself dream, I might be crushed? Maybe. But the thing is, I am not afraid of hurt, disappointment or failure. Been there, done that and sometime with a lot of style. I am excited by the opportunity to put myself into a situation where, even if i do everything right, things can still go wrong. Situations where, even I am amazingly prepared, things could go sideways. And I realized, there is no good reason why.
Slowly, gently and almost imperceptible over the month that I have been training in Tahoe, I challenged my habit of self-deprication, self-loathing, chronic self-doubt and hurt. Thoughts would come up and instead of indulging them, I would crush them with a sometime audible, WHY? There was never a good reason. And I found peace and maybe some love for myself, possible for the first time ever.
Last weekend I was out spectating and cheering at the two days of the Broken Arrow Skyrace. I ran into many people I knew, friends and without prompting many of them said, "you seem different", "you seem so happy", "you are glowing", "you seem so calm, so ready". And I am. I have done everything in my power to stand on the start line at WS 100 and have a successful day. I have done the work, but mostly, I have come to a place where I neither undertake this journey too lightly or too seriously. I GET to go run in the mountains with friends. I had an amazing opportunity to get ready for this race and prepare like never before. It has been beautiful, it has been a gift and I am so grateful. Yes, I feel like I am in the best shape of my life, but really, I know on the deepest level, that that isn't what really matters. So so so many things can happen in a 100 mile race that have nothing to do with fitness or preparation. For me, whatever the day holds, I am ready. I know it is going to be hard, sometimes it will feel impossible, sometimes I will want to quit, sometimes I will try to quit. But I know I came here for this. I have found myself in this process. I know that no matter how my race goes that it doesn't change who I am. I just want it to reflect who I am: strong, capable, willing to fight, willing to risk failure, happy and grateful. I am ready to face this dragon, I am ready to take on this fight. I know that no matter the outcome that I have found a way back to myself through this process.
The finish line is waiting for me and I will earn it with strength, grace, grit and resilience. With tears, laughter and joy. With confidence, compassion and gratitude.
Special thanks and love to Nathan, who has supported me so throughly. Much gratitude and appreciation for my coach Ian, who has really helped my best runner self. Thanks to all my peeps joining my crew at States, sister Kristin, sister Sarah, Amelia, Nathan, pacer Larisa, pacer Krissy, Sally B, Lauren F and Megan. Big ups to my sponsors Oiselle, Julbo, Ultimate Direction, Enduropacks, Nuun. Thanks to Strava and Inside Tracker! To all my friends, teammates, family, thank you for being in my corner and flying with me.
Let's do this thing!