The Art of Becoming {Sinister 7 Musings}

10 kilometers into my leg of Sinister 7, I wondered how in the world I could be THAT sweaty. 

Sure, it was a sweltering day in Crowsnest Pass, but how can a woman sweat so much that it drips down her legs and literally pours off of her like a mini Niagara Falls?

  • She can’t. Or at least this woman can’t.

This is a case of having your water bladder spring not one, but THREE not so slow leaks. If there is going to be a freak water bladder accident on race day, guaranteed, it will happen to me.

Donloree Sinister 7

The beginning of my leg – it always seems pretty doable at the start …

With seven kilometers and roughly 500 meters elevation gain and 600 meters elevation loss to go in the 30+ heat, I pulled off the course and tried to conserve as much water as possible. Turning the water bladder upside and and shoving the whole hydration system back into the pack, I continued climbing.

  • Small problem – you need water on a day like that and if you’re me, you need A LOT of water.

I forged ahead the best I could and found myself seeing stars and very depleted by the time I reached the top of the next mountain. Sitting down and contemplating the meaning of life while wringing out the back of my pink tank top, I fielded many ‘Are you ok?’ questions from the competition as they passed me and I continued to lose time.

Sinister 7

I agree, GORGEOUS! But it isn’t pretty once you have to run over it and the surrounding mountains.

A woman offered me a spare, full water bottle. I took it. In considering the options, it seemed prudent to risk drinking a stranger’s water over passing out and requiring medical attention.

An hour later, I was traversing a small creek and the rolling hills of the town of Blairmore; forcing my legs to continue to turn over in a running motion as there were people watching and my team was waiting.

After passing the timing chip over to the leg three runner, I nearly fell over in the transition area. 

I had left everything back on the course somewhere in the 30+ heat. My team plied me with watermelon, chips, water and ice while I recounted my racing woes and found shade.

Sinister 7 is not an easy race. In fact, every year they make it harder on purpose. Year to year the course changes and it is one of the most challenging races you can race in Western Canada.

Sinister 7 Feet

This is what your feet look like after 17 kms on the trails. And yes, I realize this angle makes me look like I have Hobbit Feet.

After a shower and a gallon of water, I laid down for a small nap, my legs vibrating, and I asked myself a very important question.

Why the hell are you doing this?

  • My time was horrible.
  • I was a stress case leading up to the race.
  • Team sports and all the dynamics that come with them aren’t my thing.
  • Amazing athletes come race – I am a baby athlete.

Tears of relief and frustration would have poured down my cheeks if there was enough water in my body to spare the moisture.

To be completely honest, I had a rather horrible experience racing Sinister 7.

Feeling like I let my team down and coming to the end of myself while perched on the edge of a cliff and watching people run by whom I previously passed is not a good feeling.

I do this kind of thing a lot. In fact, it is pretty much my whole approach to life.

  • Challenge + Zero Evidence I Can Accomplish The Task + Grit = Random Successes And A Few Glorious Failures

The answer to my question is decievingly simple and also rather complex – to expand and see what’s inside of me.

My reward for racing is not the medal that we all got at the finish line, rather it is that I became bigger, stronger and more resilient. Finding myself depleted halfway through Leg 2, I watched myself become someone I was proud of — a gritty woman who always finds a way to finish well despite what life throws her way.

Life is about practicing being the most amazing you that you know how to be in the moment you find yourself in and watching your soul grow over time.

  • You become what you practice.

Spending a few days after Sinister hiking in Waterton and Lake O’Hara, I remembered that oftentimes the journey is more beautiful than the destination and you shouldn’t rush past what’s in front of you. Savor, enjoy moving forward at a pace you can handle and take the time you need to move through the obstacle in front of you.

And if you want to stop for awhile to simply take it all in, that’s ok too!

Huber Ledges

Huber Ledges — halfway up Wiwaxy Gap at Lake O’Hara

Practice art, writing, sport, parenting, loving, cooking, reading, hiking, working, speaking, listening, helping, standing up for yourself, graciousness … explore the world and keep practicing and you will find your reward comes in the form of being an amazing you rather than medals and plaques.

It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone notices what you’re doing or if you are the best at it. The important thing is that you’re in process of becoming someone; someone you want to be and are proud of, no matter what time you cross the finish line.

Will I race Sinister 7 again? Probably … but not any time soon. And I am definitely in the market for a new hydration system!

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