Over a year ago or more, I can’t quite remember, a good friend asked me “what are you running from?” His question confused me as it was through a period of change and transition as I approached the age of 50 and after the Tour Divide bike race when I needed to adjust somewhat back to normal life. I was having difficulty settling in, being home, staying still and was disgruntled with all the stuff I had while all I wanted to do was train, travel and throw stuff out.
The self-supported 4400km bike race along the spine of the Continental Divide from Banff to Mexico changed me. As a friend noted, the “single-mindedness of purpose,” the mental and physical demands required of 24 hours a day for 32 Days in the wilderness, under extreme weather and land conditions, all while living on and from a mountain bike slogging forward into the daily and potentially dangerous unknown…it all created drastic change in me. I returned a different person: 23 pounds lighter, uncomfortable sleeping in my own bed for quite a while, waking up thinking of jumping on a bike, nerve damage in my hands, waking wanting adventure and daily exertion both mental and physical, unable to sit and relax or enjoy watching television, hating full drawers and closets of clothing, being uncomfortable with the comforts of home and all the material things I possess, wondering why I had so much ‘junk’ and dreaming hourly about the next extreme challenge. That was in July 2014, it is all embedded and guiding me today two and a half years later, I can’t shake it!
Back to the question, “what are you running from?”
Well, I’ve figured it out and it hit me during a recent long run alone on a trail. I think I lost my way somewhat being caught between “running from” and “the chase”. I am running from who I was. At the same time I am chasing who I hope to become moments from now, days, weeks, months and even years ahead into the future! I seek fulfillment in being better, in the challenge experienced during the process, while doing more and having less. Money is no longer a priority other than covering basic needs and helping guide my children toward adult success. My problem is I don’t see an end to my desire for “the challenge” to “be better” so I continually run from something that isn’t bad and chase toward something I can’t see.
Throughout all of this I have never lost sight of the fact that I have a wonderful family, life, am loved and supported beyond measure, and am very fortunate. I have a good job where I positively impact others. I have a great group of friends that I appreciate and admire. I have a nice home and community. I have my health and positivity all around me. Although happy about all of this, I still feel at times that I am lost in space, the space between what I am and where I want to be (and I can’t nail that down!). The craziest part is, where I want to be has more to do with having less and doing more, it has to do with adventure, struggle, perseverance, getting dirty, the journey and the unknown…and although it does cost money, having oodles of it is not required! I have learned, albeit late in life, life is truly about the journey, the experiences and the people you meet along the way that shape you, and not really about the stuff you accumulate or the destination you arrive at.
Don’t get me wrong, it was great to get to Mexico on that mountain bike. What was greater was the craziness, the adversity, the effort required, the friendships forged along the way, the understanding of how much you can do with very little and the experience of true joy and satisfaction associated with success.
I continue to run and to chase. I believe I will be better tomorrow than today and want to help others along the way. Adventures await and the real destination remains unclear!
ps. Be sure to follow Alexis and Brad Crossley on our 7000km Trans Am Bike Race starting June 3, 2017. Please consider donating to our goal to assist children at teamcrossley.ca.