Staying the Course

It was January 5th and my daughter and I had planned to go for a 3-mile run. She was upstairs getting dressed. I was in the kitchen putting food away when she came up behind me.

“Mom? You ready to go on that run?”

“Just a minute.” I stuffed the last bite in my mouth. “I…just…need to swallow…this brownie.”

So much for that “No Sugar” New Year’s Resolution. Agh! Sometimes I irritate myself.

In case you thought my lack of writing and diet conscientiousness meant I was going to flake and NOT go on a 100-mile backpack trip with 40 fabulous women writers, I’m here to tell you I AM GOING. I am going. I am going. I am going…

I keep telling myself that because some days, I wonder what the heck I’m doing. Let’s be clear. While I’ve always called myself adventurous, I am no Cheryl Strayed, as in Wild. You might’ve read her book or seen the movie starring Reese Witherspoon. Yes, I’m adventurous, but my version is tamer. I’m also a lot older than Cheryl was when she embarked on her Pacific Crest Trail hike. So give me a break.

Still, one hundred miles of hiking with a house on my back, sleeping in the dirt in another country in potentially cold, wet weather with forty strangers is huuuge adventure in my book (which I haven’t written yet).

Sometimes I just don’t feel very confident. It’s embarrassing, but even at my age, I begin to feel like the night before my first day of middle school. Will the cool kids like me? I indulge my anxieties, and imagine problems like: What if I can’t keep up with the other women? What if I’m too slow? Everyone else seems like they’ve done a lot more than I have, seen many more countries, hiked distant lands. What if I’m not worldly enough? Also, they write an awful lot and publish a lot. They have articles all over the place. All I have is this little neglected blog and a few short stories published in some literary magazines.

Over the holidays I did a lot of thinking, and decided to stop the self-sabotage. This trip, this adventure…It’s for me. Who cares what the cool kids think. And if I end up alone? So be it. (But I don’t really think I’ll end up alone). Travelling has always been empowering to me. I suspect the same is true for my new hiking buddies. My mind is a fresh slate when I’m in a brand new place. I’ll bet we have more in common than differences. For instance, I’m sure we all have some trepidation about the toilet facilities or lack thereof. I really can’t wait. For the hike, that is. And the bonding over hardships that is sure to ensue.

Besides cleaning out all that negative thinking in my brain, I am refocusing on training. I have to walk a long way, right? House on my back, etc. The hardest part for me is my sugar, wine and bread addictions. (Are there self-help groups for this?) So in addition to my attitude adjustment, I’m also still meeting with Max, the Trainer twice weekly, and I’ve begun running or walking every day. Although I haven’t given up my nasty sugar habit, the sheer amount of time spent on my feet should help me get through a hundred miles.

Staying the course. Sometimes Often, I veer off. Way off. Like when I eat a massive chocolate brownie right before a 3-mile run. Sometimes I veer only a little. Like when I indulge in my pity parties. The important thing is that I always come back. The goal is there. I know the way.

Please tell me you understand.

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