The sound of rushing water made me lose the fear of cougars lurking about, as Vancouver Island has the most dense population in all of Canada. Most of the time I remain alert to the fact, but allow my fears to turn into fuel. Last night I tied my hammock over a creek and getting settled in the dark was a high order, but managed not to fall out and take a dip, thank goodness. However this mornings dismount would need to be precise if I wished to keep my sleeping bag and hammock dry. The sun was high and I heard the quack of a duck beckoning me to the water to join it for a swim. Sauntering down the trail barefoot before gently gliding into the ever-so-still waters. A yoga practice to stretch the body was just the start needed to face the day. I used to greet each morning with a personal practice for years of my life, which helped to limber my body, set my intentions and focus my mind. With life taking place in over fifty countries in my thirty four years, I have found other ways to achieve these moments of presence. As a recovering A-type personality, I still intersperse yoga when the body calls to unwind. This mornings t-shirt was a favourite and necessary to slip on after the first half of the trail held the most significant elevation gains. It was emerald green in color, had a horizontal line with a tree at one end, and the words Ski Saskatchewan.
Being a prairie girl, I trained using the power of the winds to run and bike into, as this required a significant amount of effort. Often they were cheeky would change at my turning point, no let up would be felt on the return route. It was moments like this where I made peace with nature asking for the best of me to come to the table and make something out of these moment. Alas, today was all about the flats. Laced up the shoes, ate a mighty bowl of chia and granola, a cuppa yerba and away we went. Retracing our steps through Lake Cowichan and onto the trail heading east to Duncan. Tall pines provided shade from the morning sun and the black and white pattern it left on the ground reminded me of keys on a piano, I took long strides to bound across the black ones as if playing y favourite morning tune. As the legs began to warm up with high knee exercises the body felt primed and ready for the distance ahead. After 5 km I felt light and the legs ready to cruise so I bound down the trail. This was possibly the best I had felt on the trail yet, however considering yesterdays event I wanted to be sure not to push myself too early. Kept on top of hydration and electrolytes to move the machine I am becoming: alert, alive and so immersed in each step. Maybe I felt so good because this was technically our “summit” or half way point, as we would have completed 50% of the distance by the end of the day. I was coaxed by my inner coach who reminded me that after a battle the most important thing was to get back up and try again.I run for what I believe in. Enlivening my body in ways our ancestral figures knew well. This circadian form of momentum would serve not to hunt after game but to inspire others to help those who have partially functioning organs. I remembered trying to run around while breathing through a straw when I was a kid and felt the dizzying effects and nausea that followed after just a few minutes, it was hard to imagine what a lifetime without breath would feel like. There are still flashbacks in my mind of Lindsay’s cough attacks and her need to sit down and claw at the earth or her bed sheets to try draw in as much air as possible. This image broke my heart every time. Why was I gifted the freedom of mobility and ease of breath, two things I know a kid should not have to live without. There was a constant wish in my mind to make her pain go away, I just never knew how. An analogy of these moments reminds me of the aftershock that follows an earthquake. Losing her left me with a gaping hole in my heart and survivors guilt that I had to work tirelessly to remedy. Lindsay showed me how to live fully and be dedicated to the cure so no one else has to live out this similar story. I am willing and focused to make a difference.
Days like today felt like a celebration when I could smile, feeling alive and free of the struggle in my mind, proud of how far I’ve come and looking with hope to the future, our end point, where land meets sea. The Cowichan River flowed past us on the right and served as air conditioning to keep our bodies cool. The smooth flat track showcased an immaculate selection of the forest with strands of sunshine flowing through. My dad was happy on his bike today, I believe this was the kind of trail he was expecting to ride. As we neared Duncan the trail became littered with other folks and families out exploring the trail systems.
“Wanna race?” I asked my dad and before he could answer I was in a sprint to the next path, as fast as my little legs could carry me. As light as my body felt I was still controlled by gravity although every cell in my body willed me to take off in flight. If only I were Hermes in this moment with winged shoes. We took a left up a hill and zig zagged through town to find mom stationed in a perfectly placed parking lot. That end point brought ease to my mind which aids when embarking on fast paced adventures. It gives me something to look forward to, feel the heat of the race, test my limits and stretch my imagination of what I thought was once not attainable. In my many global adventures, there was often a never ending question mark that was chased, and these illusive questions were often held just out of sight. Climbing up and over peaks and valleys, trudging through lagoons and flowing atop streams has widened my perspective. These lessons are a continual reminder that which we seek can be attained with focus and clarity, and that an object in motion stays in motion - the motion of the moment is more important than finding an end point. This reminder, from time to time, has helped to rewrite engrained values and find my way back to this story I am now writing. One with hope, new perspective, seasoned eyes, fresh legs and a reminder that anything we set our minds to can be achieved. I felt alive in a way that life had never quite offered before, as I live out my story one moment at a time. The salsa and nachos that awaited our hunger never tasted so good.