Sunday, July 17, 2011

Endurance. Check. Determination. Check. Faith. Eh??? Not so much.

"But there are [wo]men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious [wo]men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such [wo]men are regarded as eccentric; at worst, mad...

Everest has attracted its share of [wo]men like these. Their mountaineering experience varied from none at all to very slight - certainly none of them had the kind of experience which would make an ascent of Everest a reasonable goal. Three things they all had in common: faith in themselves, great determination, and endurance."

~ Walt Unsworth, Everest

So for as long as I can remember I have wanted to climb Mount Everest... well at least from the 90's I should say when I heard about this mountain. I don't really have a good reason either. My mountaineering skills are seriously lacking and I hate the cold... so it is absolutely ludicrous that I would want to subject myself to -60 degree Fahrenheit weather for two+ months. So what is it that drives this dream onward? I seriously don't know. I think it is that Mt. Everest is one of the toughest physical challenges on this planet for the body and I want to see what my body will do when I subject it to these brutal conditions. Will it succumb to the harsh conditions and I end up another ill prepared mountaineer who thought she could conquer Jomolungma when she wasn't ready for it?? Or will my body be tough enough to handle the severe conditions and make it back down in tact with all of my fingers, toes, and one nose??

It is a common misconception that people who participate in endurance sports are masochists for pain or that they don't feel the pain like everybody else. This is not true. I don't PARTICULARLY like how it feels. It is not comfortable for me, it is not easy, and I struggle just like everyone else who begins a new running program and yet I dream about things that test my physical limits just to see if I can do it and for how long. Endurance athletes feel the same pain that everyone else feels, we just seem to process the mundane repetitive task in a different way that makes it bearable. It becomes a mental battle with your body and endurance athletes are just able to deal with the mundane for longer. Endurance sports are boring, they last forever, and aren't even fun for spectators to watch. Anyone can run a marathon physically (assuming they don't have injuries or serious medical conditions that would hold them back), the thing that keeps people from completing a marathon though is not usually physical limitations... it is how absolutely F*cking boring the training is! Even listening to music, after a couple hours you are just exhausted and your ears even hurt it seems.

I have decided that this is my last year training for marathons, I am done with the endless hours of running and I have decided that half-marathons will be my longest distance from now on since I can do those without much training and I need to continue to run to stay in shape for other activities. I have turned my sights to new adventures and new sports that challenge my body and my mind... alpine mountaineering is one of those sports. I have serious hopes of climbing an 8000 meter peak in my lifetime and I am beginning my preparation for it now by strengthening my Oprah-like arms with rock climbing. I have began the search for the gear I need to deal with the cold, I have started getting the schedules for Glacier Rescue Classes, this is really going to happen and I am scared of it. I am afraid that I am going to lose toes, because I have some seriously cute feet... they are a bit hairy... but come on, everyone loves a little hair. Right??

Anyways, the point of this post is to question what your dreams are?? Do you dream of climbing mountains, rowing oceans, raising kids, or working on your tan?? What moves you? Why aren't you doing it? Your time is very limited on this planet. Your body is going to eventually break down and you won't have the physical abilities to conquer your dreams anymore. Seize the day and get on it now! Don't wait anymore. Time is flying by, don't be a spectator to someone else's life.

Is death by mis-adventure really such a bad way to go? I don't think so, I think it would be pretty fucking sweet actually.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I did some winter mountaineering back in college. Nothing tall mind you...just a few 13,000 feet peaks in Colorado. People out there don't even count them if they aren't 14,000. 8,000 meters is a whole different ball of wax. Dealing with the cold is really all mental (once you have good gear) - just like the marathon thing! But I always thought the biggest problem with climbing those kinds of peaks was raising the necessary funds. Last I checked such things, I thought it took a minimum of $100K to do Everest.