On October 20th, I toed the line at my first ultra since 2018.
Both 2019 and (so far) 2020 had not been great for a multitude of reasons that need no 🤪 explaining to you all, and so my endurance fitness was hovering around the Ben & Jerry’s zone. I know I was not alone in this state of pandemic zombie-like double vision living, lacking motivation and clarity of the future. But in traditional Coach Sam style, once I let the chaotic emotions process and flow through, I quickly became unstuck and determined to affect change. Not change in areas of life I have no control, but instead to regain my own power and create change within myself. I call this self investing.
Once I got back my vision I was able to reground myself with practices I know to be true for me; using my well-honed Emotional Fitness muscles. Over 51 years of hard knocks, rather than being defined by those, I have developed fitness and skills in my physical, mental, and spiritual toolbox for turning adversity into advantages and opportunities for personal growth. And boy don’t we all know that 2020 is the year to double down on that!
One of the many things I did then, besides make major changes to my business- home- vanlife- relationships was to reinvest in my fitness. In particular my old lover, ultra endurance running. I dusted off my old hydration pack and bought a new pair of kicks and headed out for the trail. Since all races were Covid canceled this year I decided instead to go next level and create my own personal race event. I am a professional Race Director by trade so hilariously I just embraced the mindset of creating an event for one, against no one, for everyone.
The Goodwater135 was born. It was me running in the hot desert (my favorite climate and landscapes on earth), on a course I had crewed-paced-admired for years (The 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon), with no one (except my patient husband who would ensure I did not die), and all over a time clock that did not tick (allowing me to go at any pace I wanted to). The idea, planning, training and dedication to the project, which included raising funds for the Peace Academy of Arts & Sciences and a challenge for others to engage in, re-lite my interval fire big time!
Hopefully, you followed my foot journey across the desert on social and if not- go revisit the videos and pictures after this to feel what it was like by my side out there 😉
Here are my BIG 6 lessons I can share about how to crush BIG goals like this:
1. When you set big audacious goals you need to have a 1) macro plan and 2) micro plan and 3) micro micro plan. Look at it as a project you’re managing. Understand it has layers and that different perspectives are required for each layer. For example, Macro is big picture basics (what, when, where, who) and Micro is HOW but Micro Micro is actual valuable micromanaging- so that if you’re feeling a hot spot rub on your foot and maybe going to get a blister you stop prior and deal with it before it’s a crisis. Write this all down and think through these layers.
2. A lion does not eat an elephant in one bite. You have got to not only set a BIG goal and then devise your strategy to achieving it but then you’ve got a break it down into focused manageable pieces to execute! That often will require support from others as well as a formal written plan of attack broken down backward by month, week, day. Don’t know how? Ask someone who been there done that to share their knowledge
3. Be organized and keep things simple. Keep both your plan and gear simple enough that your brain can absorb and navigate the flow easily. However, that does not mean skimping on creature comfort‘s or things/ways that will allow the process to be more enjoyable and ultimately produce less suffering. Example: daily in the desert, I had new socks, my favorite chapstick, and preloaded mood music at the ready 24/7 knowing that those 3 things would soothe my discomfort.
4. DO THE WORK and surround yourself with people who believe in you more than you believe in yourself. There are no shortcuts, you simply have to have a strategy and execute it day in and day out. However, knowing it’s not going to be perfect but instead letting your team help you keep your head in the game and hold you accountable. Remember- you are an accumulation of anything and everything that has transpired in your life up until now, so you are far more capable and worthy of this goal than you even know
5. Know your why. You’re why is going to be your North Star when the darkness comes, and trust me it will. For me the Goodwater135 challenge had two. One was raising awareness and funds for the Peace Academy programs where they do extraordinary mission work on building global environmental humanitarian youth leaders. Honestly, I can’t think of anything else we need more of in the world right now. Two was for me personally to grab and use this Covid 19 pandemic pause as an opportunity for self-investment and self-exploration. By using my extra time to train then being willing to do something very very challenging mentally, physically, spiritually it allowed me to peel back the layers and get to know myself better. This self-investment work is critical to gaining clarity and energy towards my purpose for life’s second half.
6. You are never alone. Though sometimes you might feel that way and yes, running in isolation through the desert of Death Valley day after day definitely holds solitude at the forefront. However, leading up to the event I had a lot of team collaboration and then during the event, I had hundreds of people reach out to me with encouraging words online as well as random perfect strangers driving by waving and cheering me on. Finally, my Crew Chief (who happens to be my patient loving husband) was always there in case I needed him with an unwavering belief in my success.
In closing I will simply add that with life suffering is inevitable. We are all united in this emotion to varying degrees as part of being human. But are you going to embrace it, crush it and then manage it for growth wine or are you going to allow it to overpower you and it become the decision-maker?
You’ve got one precious perishable life and body- I encourage you use it accordingly.