Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be rid of the the day when I feel off that cliff. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be thought to be more than just a survival story, or judged for my current athletic abilities, instead of being compared to the past – seen as more than just ‘being lucky to be alive and running again.’ Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be seen as more than one bad day in the mountains. I wonder if I’ll ever see myself that way, if all of these doubts are coming from others or really they’re coming from within.
During the week of a big goal or race, these doubts and thoughts can grow louder, sometimes deafening in their chatter between my ears. I’ve learned to subdue them, writing down my affirmations and truly believing my best athletic days are ahead of me. I speak to my coach about race plans and how my training has prepared me for the challenge that lay ahead. I look inward and I’m confident in my strength and work ethic to get to a start line ready to race.
But as I lined up for San Juan Solstice 50 Mile race 5am in the city center of Lake City, Colorado, suddenly those doubts were creeping in – am I more than one bad day in the mountains? Has my body been through too many injuries to do this ultra? Am I really just lucky to be running again or am I a true competitor? Does anyone even see me that way? But just before they release us to run with a ‘ready, set, go,’ a final thought goes through my head: Don’t underestimate your potential. I start running.
I took that confidence with me throughout the day, and as doubts and fatigue came in waves, I made sure to hold onto that statement, to not underestimate my potential, desire or drive to be out there pushing myself, my potential and seeing where I stack up. I’ll always have doubts about how my accident has impacted my body now, or the fact that breaking 14 bones, all in one go, then learning to walk again on 3 separate occasions hasn’t set me back – but instead of choosing to focus on the negative, I choose to look ahead and to dream of what I could accomplish with everything that I’ve learned from past experiences and set backs.
The truth is, all of us have a story which brings up doubts in our abilities. All of us have fears around how others perceive us, or how we see ourselves. So instead of focusing on doubts, let’s bring the attention to our potential, and be curious to what we can accomplish when we focus on that.
I finished on the podium at San Juan Solstice last weekend. Finishing in the 4th fastest time in the race history (nearly 20 years) with some of the speediest mountain running ladies in the country. The next day, I even had energy to do a little bike race in Gypsum, Colorado (Big Horn Gravel) as I made my way home – something I would have never thought possible even a few years ago. But here am I, choosing to believe in my best athletic days ahead and not underestimating my potential. On your next start line, I hope you chose to do the same