In 21 days I will participate in the toughest mental and physical challenge of my life and run 202 miles around Lake Tahoe. Actually, it’s the equivalent of running around the lake almost three times. Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful areas in the world sitting at 6,200 feet above sea level located in the Sierra-Nevada mountain range.
Following the roadway, the lake is 72 miles in circumference. But this course doesn’t follow the roadway. It goes up to the tops of peaks then drops into valleys many times reaching a low of 5,000 feet to a high of almost 10,000 feet. The mountainous trail covers some of the most beautiful and rugged parts of the Sierra Nevada. I have 100 hours to complete this 202 mile journey.
I’m nervous because I will be running through the night at least three times – possibly four. I’ve run 100 miles which took 25 hours so am familiar with what it is like to see the sun rise, then the sun set, and then the sun rise again. I’ve run 50 miles before. And, I’ve run many marathons mostly as training to prepare for these longer distances. But this will be significantly more difficult. Every time I embark on a new challenge that tests me both physically and mentally, I am reminded of how much of what I learn on these adventures is relevant to so many aspects of life.
It’s easy to get complacent and keep doing the same thing over and over. Sometimes, though, we have to get out of our comfort zone and take some risks. There is a chance I won’t finish this run. There is a chance I will get hurt. There is a chance I will hallucinate and see animals that don’t exist. There is a chance…. But there is also a very high likelihood that I will successfully cross the finish line.
And so as the nerves float around my belly thinking of all the things that I should be nervous about, I have to remind myself that part of living is putting oneself in situations that are new, challenging, difficult, and risky. People jump out of airplanes or off cliffs not because they want to die but because they want to live.
As a child I would often ski the same mountains I will be running in next month. When I would get to the bottom of the hill without falling down, I would think of how successful I was. And on one hand I was successful. Then my dad would remind me that when you fall, it means you are pushing yourself.
It’s good to fall down and be nervous because you are pushing the limits. And when you push the limits, you learn. While I have trained hard and prepared to successfully finish this 202 mile journey, I still feel the butterflies occasionally move through my belly.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you were nervous? Then ask, why has it been so long?