The longest road
The suns rays cracking through the cedar bows over head marked the start of a new day. Upon rising I learned that maybe the chaffing wasn't my only pain. Today the knees were talking and my hip was ached after the last two runs. I believe this is what all the training was for, and recalled a run with my friend Dustin who took me around Bow Lake in Banff for a 50 km afternoon trail run and shared some wisdom from his trail runs, having completed many ultras and covering mountain passes throughout Alaska and the central Rockies in Canada. He said that its ninety percent mental and ten percent physical. If you can master your mind anything is possible. And here I am reminded of my sister Lindsay who demonstrated in times of struggle when her health was failing, a continual optimism that showed up as strength. I've used this approach over the years and this morning I needed to be reminded. With 46km ahead, I will have to stay focused on the movement and not attach to pain. We laced up and set off, these first 10 km were a grind, along the wide open trail of flat rolling terrain and pockets of sunshine. You'd think this would be just the ticket to keep pace and feel comfort in the joints. I plugged in an audio book called Disrupt Yourself, which seemed quite fitting with all the changes life has offered this year. From a damaging break up and fighting to reclaim my house in Bella Coola. Through some brilliant miracle it all led me to this trail, the very place I dreamed to be as a child, wanting to honor Lindsay's life and help fundraise to cure Cystic Fibrosis. Now I am confidently embarking on this experience though the road here was not to simple. Through it all I have found that taking time to challenge my mind and body are where I feel most at home. Its where I make sense of life, find my sweet spot and learn what I am capable of. Running long distances has become the easiest part of this journey - the voices I encounter have taught me how to believe in myself when doubts arise and commit to my plan so I can "disrupt" my negative patterns and stories and embrace the experience waiting around each corner. I will become a better version of myself and each step is a credo to that dedication. Space and time in nature is a gift I never take for granted. Here my thoughts become crystal clear as the miles roll by.
After completing 3/4 of the distance I took a rest down by the river and allowed the cold water to wash away the fatigue for the final stretch - 11 km and I would be done. Beautiful cliff walls and raging rapids created a symphony of sound that one could easily miss if not looking around. As important as it is to keep my eyes on the goal, its these precious moments when I give myself permission to follow the path less traveled and enjoy. Maybe this is the gift of pain, as very few moments in life ask us to stop. When its unbearable to keep pushing we wait for it to pass. Down by a stream I chose to embody this experience, reflect on this life I have been given and created out of grand ideas, and all that is left to cover.
It wasn't long before the legs started pumping and I reunited with my dad, who just had another encounter with a black bear crossing a trestle bridges where row boats floated below. This brought his count to two bears in three days. It seems as though he is our trail guardian, equip with all the additional supplies in times of need. How glad am I for the extra cans of bear spray. We run together for 5 km then I let him go ahead and dive in the water.
The trail passes many country homes with livestock: cows, horses, sheep and donkeys. The idea of being a farmer pulls on heart strings, for many of the travels I've experienced have components of volunteer work on farms, and my family lineage comes from dairy farmers on my moms side and grain farming on my dads. Before we embarked on pursuing active travel holidays, that was the lifestyle we lived: tend the earth under our feet and connect with animals and plants to sustain ourselves and our loved ones. How simple and pure.
Upon entering town at the intersection my phone decided it had enough... funny, so did I. Sauntering along, asking directions to the campsite from friendly locals, I arrived at the lake and didn't miss a moment to hop in the lake. Upon exiting a family asked where I had come from and I had the chance to share my story about Cystic Fibrosis and the promise I was following through on. Sharing is what this is all about. Mark had to remind me of this at the start as I struggle to be in the spot light, however this is where the moths are drawn, so I stand tall and speak from my heart.
Shortly after I found camp with mom awaiting my arrival, that was the longest day yet and she had just the ticket. Salsa, nachos and a smoothie. What a lady. Today she pulled out her charm once again, sharing our story with other campers; to later find out that one of them had covered our campsite costs! She had been met with generosity when sharing the story of Lindsay and what this run is all about. Emotions are an internal struggle that no one else may know about unless you open up and share. This was becoming one of my highlights and a meaning for the journey. I am happy when my mom opens up, sheds some tears and let others see her strength through it all. Being vulnerable about our struggles is an act of bravery. She displayed it here and I hope continues to do so while building healthy connections and coping strategies to live with this loss. Our community of support is growing across the country.
Tonight I reflect on all my gratitude, some being my dad's dedication to help on the trail, the big smiles and laughs Mark shares on the daily, the consistency of my mom being meeting us at the end of the day. The signage on the trails is spectacular and all those who have sponsored this event and are following along to share some positivity is nothing short of a dream come true. Today we covered 46 km, 110km total and 140 to go, I think I might just fall asleep standing up! Totally exhausted and immensely proud of what we've done so far. Working through struggle is part of building character.