January 28, 2011

Training in the Wrong Hemisphere

With less than one week until Cruce de los Andes I'm sharing this blog post from Anne Upczak, my race partner. I think she's going to need a lot of sunblock.

In June, Carolyn invited me to an ultra race consisting of three days of 18 miles per day up and over the Andes from Argentina to Chile. My fantasy life was aroused.
I sat on my deck in the Colorado mountains, red wine in hand, and indulged in the idea of embarking on an adventure put in front of me. It is hard to find an excuse to stay inside during a Rocky Mountain Summer so I diligently began to train.
I registered for the Imogene Pass run, which takes runners from Ouray, Colorado (7792 ft) up and over the Imogene Pass (13114 ft) and back down into Telluride (8750ft) all in only 17 miles. It was a race I never imagined myself doing, but the crisp September air and the spectacular views helped me up and over the grueling pass.
As the fall progressed and the days became shorter and colder my internal motivation to be outside began to dwindle. As many of us who live in regions with four seasons know, fall is a time to wind down and begin thinking about fattening up for the winter.
This is a difficult inclination to fight.
So as winter approached and the darkness encroached on my training I struggled to motivate myself and I began to wonder why I agreed to a race in the southern hemisphere in the middle of the northern winter.
As December winds howled outside I organized myself to re-motivate and make it through the winter training. I strapped on my cross-country skis. The wax squeaked as my skis glided across the snow and I climbed higher and higher.
I realized that the whole reason I wanted to travel thousands of miles and participate in a three-day adventure race was not to prove anything to anyone; rather I was to be outside and experience the glorious blessing that the mountains share with me.
A mountain girl, I thrive on the open ended feeling being outdoors gives me. My heart and spirit are in the mountains, so even if my nose is frozen and my toes are numb, I know I still want to feel the wind on my face, see the sun hanging low in the winter sky and continue to try to train for whatever it is Argentina and Chile have in store for me.
I know that within a matter of weeks the hot southern summer will be forcing beads of sweat to run down my neck and my body will ache from the long days on the trail. I keep this vision in my mind this evening, on a dark, cold night in front of the fire.
Just keep moving forward one friend advised. Isn’t that all we can ever do in our unpredictable lives? Put one foot in front of the other and believe in ourselves.

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