I reminded myself of something I've always known this weekend. I CAN do hard things! A couple months ago I signed up to do a 180+ mile relay with a group of 12 friends. We started in Ashton yesterday at 8:30 in the morning. We ran up to Island Park, wound our way through the back roads to Driggs, ran up to Grand Targhee and back down and then over the Jackson Pass to Teton Village. I've done this sort of thing twice before, but it had been a while. So I've been looking forward to and dreading this weekend for a while.
It is very physically taxing on your body, for a girl like me who hasn't been training as much as she should have been. I have been running, but with my crazy summer, I've sometimes found it hard to fit in. So needless to say I was a little worried. Not to mention that we were running right smack dab through the middle of bear, wolf, mountain lion, skunk and who knows what else country. If you know me at all, you might know that I have a pretty serious fear of wildlife. It's not because I've ever had a close encounter or anything- (other than the time when I was a little girl and my parents made me take the scrap bucket out after dark and I found a skunk waiting for me in the burn barrel, where I was supposed dumped it!) It's probably just from watching too many stories on Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel. So this caused me a fair amount of anxiety.
The weather was beautiful for a weekend of running through some of God's most beautiful country! (I can't believe I'm saying this, but at times it might have even been a little too warm.) I learned a lot this weekend. Here's just a few of those things.
1- Every new adventure should start with a prayer! It is so nice to be able so say a prayer with good friends! I know we were watched out for in a lot of ways and I'm thankful for that.
2- I love spending time with my sister. She was on my team and she did amazing! For the rest of her life when she drives over the Jackson Pass, she will be able to say, "I ran up this beast of a mountain!" Neither one of us really had time to take a break from our lives and do this relay, but I'm so glad we did!
3- True friends never abandon you and they help you through tough things! The first leg I ran was right through the middle of the forest. The sun was just starting to go down. It was still light, but the whole time I kept thinking that this is prime time for the wildlife to start being more active. Having first hand knowledge of my fear of critters, my sister and friends stayed right close to me in the car while I completed my 6.7 mile leg, giving me words of encouragement and water as needed. They kept the window down so that if I had to do my best "Dukes of Hazard" dive at any moment, because of some critter chasing after me I could! We supported each other through each leg of the race this way. I know I could turn to these same amazing women at difficult times in my life and they would stand by me!
4- God blesses us and watches out for us! Everyone kept telling us that we didn't need to worry about the wildlife in the middle of the day, because they are only active at night, and it was too hot during the day, blah, blah, blah. So in order to keep my anxiety under control, I allowed myself to believe them. As we sat at the finish line with other teams, we heard stories of their encounters with the "sleeping" wildlife. One team took a picture of a bear who had just been following a runner in front of them. Another team saw a bear cub on the side of the road, just after their runner passed by. Some runners heard wolves howling during their middle of the night runs where no vehicles were allowed because they were running on a trail. A support vehicle saw a wolf cross the road shortly before one of our runners emerged from said trail.
5- The sky in Driggs just before dusk is amazing! As I was running my second leg at about 4:45 in the morning, the sky was beautiful! This is actually what helped me get through this leg! I was running up the first part of the hill up to Grand Targhee ski resort. I wasn't too worried about wildlife at this point, because we were all of the sudden into a big group of runners and support vehicles. There was lots of traffic on the road, which I was convinced would scare away anything that was out to get me. As I was running, I was entertained by several falling stars. I couldn't help but bask in the beauty that surrounded me! The sun wasn't up, but the moon was out enough that I could see the silhouette of the mountains in front of me. The sky was clear and I could see the millions of stars shining down on me. Somehow I forgot about the monster hill that I was running up and just enjoyed the moment! This was probably one of my favorite parts of the weekend!
6- Campers are amazing! One of our teammates had a camper and her husband pulled it up near Driggs so that we could use it to try and sleep in between our legs. At first, I thought that we would probably never use it....boy was I wrong. We spent a little time there twice, while the girls in the other vehicle were running their legs. Even though I wasn't able to shut my head off long enough to sleep during our first stint in the camper, it was so nice to be able to stretch out on a bed, use a toilet that was not an outhouse or the tree, and have some warm water to wash my face. Sleeping was successful the second time around and never more welcomed or needed. Even though it only lasted for about 2 hours, it was amazing!
7- We live in a beautiful place! This is just one of the many beautiful views we enjoyed this weekend!
8- The simple pleasures in life are the best! Oh, how good a nice warm shower feels! Blister pads are great! Water, water and more water! Laughter is fulfilling! Words of encouragement really DO help others! Fresh air. Wild flowers. Supportive texts from family members mean a lot. Sleep in your own bed is the best! (Which is what I'm going to do now!) LIFE IS GOOD!