Even using the words “outside the comfort zone” feels like a self-help cliche. I’ve come to realize that a lot of the changes I have made in my life in the last year (that all of us have been forced to make during this pandemic), fall within this cliche.
Taking up backpacking and training alone, with only my dog for company most of the time? A little scary, but at least I have bear spray! Leaving my home for 3 days in the woods with only what I can carry on my back? Scary, but being with my best friend made it less so. Pooping in a hole in the ground and trying to avoid being seen by people while doing it? Very scary!
Amber and I also stepped way outside of our comfort zones when we signed up for a 15k Ruck, the Badger Mountain Challenge in Richland, WA.
It needs to be clarified that we are not runners. I did have a stint of running in my 30s, but back issues and arthritis stopped that. We decided to try the ruck, after learning it was a 9.3 mile hike with a 20-30 lb pack on our backs. We’ve done that before!
Most who have done a ruck know these races are based on the military ruck march, and many have a very strong military feel (i.e. GoRuck). Luckily for our civilian butts, Badger Mountain is not this kind of event.
We gathered up our camping backpacks (at 55 and 60 L respectively), loaded them up with weight, including canned and other other non-perishable foods to donate at the finish line. We grabbed our snacks and trekking poles, and headed to the start line.
It is true that we looked a little out of place, and we took it slow and steady. Despite it, we trekked ahead, and finished the race (in very last place). It was a challenge, but fun. Being at the back of the pack brings benefits like meeting the owner of a local running store as he cleared race markers behind us. We are already talking about doing it again next year!
The lesson of this race and the last year has been to force myself past discomfort. I’ve discovered that’s where I really enjoy living my life, once I push past my initial fears. I have had to stop worrying about what others may think, and do what makes me feel good about myself, my body, and my life.
As stated above, I am no elite athlete. What I have focused on this last year has been getting out in nature and moving my body. That’s what is important. If I’m lucky, you might be inspired to do the same.