...is a Japanese expression meaning..."Don't delude yourself".
When put on the spot, regardless of incentive, many can answer the call of a difficult or even seemingly impossible challenge. In the photo above, my team DART-nuun had just won the 2008 Baja Travesia in Mexico, one of the hardest and most insane nonstop multi-day expdition adventure races ever put on in North America. Unfortunately I was deathly ill with a sinus and chest infection before the race even started, and was pretty much worthless to my team for most of the race. With my ego in check, we made it as a team.
The timing couldn't have been worse: instead of being at lifetime best fitness as I was one week BEFORE the race, I was temporarily a shell of my potential right when my teammates needed to count on me. With my exceptional teammates Glenn Rogers and Mari Chandler, I made it through the nonstop 72 hour race unable to even speak, traversing the Baja penninsula (from the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean over the Sierra Nevada mountain range and adjacent canyons and deserts) in the most difficult adventure race of my life. At the finish line, my legs were extremely swollen with edema but my heart was filled with joy and gratitude for the experience and opportunity to dig my pain groove so deeply.
If it had been a solo event, I do not believe I would have toed the start line, even after the long drive down to San Felipe from Aliso Viejo. I would have gone back to bed or even to the hospital for (last resort) antibiotics. This was the hardest I had ever had to push, and going nearly 65 hours without sleeping, adding florid hallucinations to the mix, did not help. The only other time I can remember pushing myself Far Beyond My Known Limits to accomplish a goal (finishing/winning) was in my Navy training. Fortunately I went into the race with enough fitness that, at half of my cylinders running, I could still (barely) keep up. It was humbling and life-changing.
"We are enriched by life's harshest moments. Especially those of our own choosing."
Often when confronted by the 'devil' with sleeping in, skipping a workout, procrastinating (on nearly anything) or simply taking the easy way out, I try to remind myself of these Harsh Moments (even 72 hour long "moments") to provide context; as a reminder to HTFU and Get 'er Done.
Increasing the Frequency of Perception Recalibration
As challenging as these experiences have been, I truly do hope the most difficult tests-and most rewarding-moments are ahead of me, that I will not rest on my laurels with my nice National Champion trophy on the shelf (which by now is getting dusty if not rusty). In fact, the direction I am headed with my training and time will likely keep me out of my old arenas of competition and on to entirely new ones.
This is a perfect segue for my next post, addressing COMPLACENCY, plateaus, pain vs pleasure incentives and analyzing opportunity cost (in the context of fitness: Volume Wars vs Intensity Wars) with broad life experience and never-ending skill development in the balance.
How is it possible for someone who competes in several 24+ hour endurance races per year, trains methodically and purposefully for over 900 hours per year to be "Lazy"? I asked myself that question for a few years and only recently had the courage to answer my own question. I knew the answer all along, but was simply too distracted, soft and lazy to accept my own challenge, to answer the call. Years flew by. About a decade. How did that happen?
"Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it"
The gnarliest challenges await, and with any luck are unfathomable to me as I am today. The only thing keeping me or anyone from these peak experiences and opportunities for growth are excuses I call "'ould'ves"...Should've, Could've, Would've. Over time, they add up to a sky-high pile of...
Are you Shoulding all over yourself?
Are you tired of being tired?
Video of our Baja Travesia Finish in Ensenada: "Utterly Shattered"
...and 24hrs later back in Solana Beach...it hurt to laugh but we did...
"That's how a MAN eats some CAKE!"