15 months earlier….
June 2014 log date:
My interest in the Freedom Challenge race across South Africa since hearing about it in 2009 had climaxed and I was now physically out on the trail. 9 months of training, preparation and sacrifices behind me to finance and pursue a dream and I was on the start line and advancing into the unknown.
Why did I do it? I think certain sports for certain people reflect certain elements and aspects of our lives and where we find ourselves. As individuals we all have different core values and greater values that reflect on things we subconsciously think of from day to day. Survival, courage and strength may be some of those values. Some of us feel the need to test our limits and for me the Freedom Challenge race across South Africa presented the play ground to do just that, an adventure race into the unknown. It was a journey and something that I had nervously anticipated and by the sometimes fragile human reasoning of logic, convinced myself to go for! After all, if it was a dream, why not pursue it!
Towards the end of June 2014 I exited the Freedom Challenge trail 11 days in, a ‘shattered left knee that wouldn’t pursue a relationship with the rest of a willing body but also, I left the trail with a ‘shattered mind not being able to finish what I had started. Nobody gets to feel those emotions even if hidden away from others unless you experience this form of disappointment, but again, everyone deals with their disappointments differently. For some, the mind at the precise moment of feeling defeat has the ability to gel together a concoction of negative perspectives that moves to destroy anything that you want to see and believe that are positive.
This happened! Everyone is different, but this happened to me!
I started to believe everything I had sacrificed was for nothing. I started to believe that I had pursued this quest in the realm of fantasy rather than reality. I started to believe that races like this were only for certain species that are above the norms of who we are. I started to believe that dreams were just dreams and I shouldn’t have been on the Freedom Trail in the first place. This incident in my history book broke me but it also tutored me in the months to follow. I had a lot of learning to do as well as maturing and we never too old to learn.
It was to take me 15 months to finally really find my feet from that personal gut wrenching day, to find my ‘mojo as they call it. Cycling had been my passion for over 20 years and mountain biking had offered me a whole new dimension and freedom in the past 7 years. After my time of rehabilitation and getting my knee fixed and back to strength, I started dabbling halfheartedly back on the bike. I was battling to find the motivation. I was battling to feel the freedom and excitement of riding my bike and getting out-there. My rides were half baked to say the least. I was putting on weight. My family would point out my moods that served no purpose.
A sad loss of a close family member and witnessing the physical finality of a life towards the end of those 15 months started to catapult me towards the blips of light. Deep down the embers from the whittled down fires in my belly were still glowing somewhat. Getting back on the bike even though it felt like nothing was there, it still kept glowing even though I was blind to the sensation and endorphin that was flowing through my veins. Again, we are complex beings and based on our upbringings, belief systems and life experiences we all judge, respond, react, make decisions and live our lives differently to another. One of my biggest weaknesses is that I have always been too hard on myself and I fear failure.
In June 2016 I am back on the start line!
The lessons and reminders have been learnt and need to be applied. Live in the now and stop worrying about tomorrow. Today as with all days is all you’ve got and there are no guarantees how your day will play out. The most important thing is to make every second count especially when it’s in pursuit of your passion and what matters to you. There will be highs, so celebrate them! There will be lows, just harden the F*** up! It’s never always going to be lollipops and sunshine. Its par for the course! We need to understand attitude makes all the difference between a good experience and a bad one so keep it in check. We are all stronger than we think we are and we need to learn to give ourselves more credit than we think we deserve. One also needs to understand that even in the beauty of our sporting passions and those that pursue it, your health is both fragile and irreplaceable and sometimes you have to make hard decisions around it and it’s not always the beginning and end of all. (Note to self. Don’t be hard on yourself and face your fears)
The question can be asked many a time when you pursuing a challenge and the suffering kicks in, why can it be so difficult to let go when a race has surpassed our limits, and our own survival may be in question. I’ve been asked many times, why I would want to put myself through this, a race such as the freedom Challenge race across South Africa. Other than past answers given, I think the answer also lies in that we are also always witness to scenes of raw courage in others from time to time in sporting arenas and day to day living; People pushing on against all odds through adversity and hardship pushing their own limits. A normal rational person’s view would be that this behavior is sometimes reckless and foolish when some of these amazing individuals do what they do. Yet! There is something in our subconscious minds that admires these displays of sheer determination and courage and some of us just longs to be just as full of pure grit and toughness.
I decided to write this blog insert and hopefully just give a small glimpse away from any perceptions and the quiet unassuming individual that I am and rather into simple facts that we are all just mere mortals with hopes and dreams, failures and successes and feel emotions of elation and disappointments, laughter and pain just like everyone else.
Yet! Everyone likes a hero………but I’m just merely wanting to be my own….
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