top of page

your pace...your peak

There are times when a friend will say, "hey, let's go do..." and I think, that would be fun. And then I think, wait I won't be able to keep up, or she is so much younger than I am, or she is so much more fit than I am. And I realize those thoughts of mine that creep in, they are all ego. And when I let go of the ego, when I accept myself for who I am, when I recognize that my friend just asked me to go do something with her and that's the only thing that should matter, when I allow myself to say yes, when I go and I do, this is when I become closer to who I really am. This is when self awareness becomes more crystal clear. This is when I reach the peak, figuratively and literally!

Hiking Mayflower Gulch

This self awareness lesson is illuminated for me periodically, most recently two days ago, and again yesterday.

Two days ago I went with my team from work to the high altitude town of Leadville where we immersed ourselves into a full day at the Colorado Outward Bound School. If you've known me for a long time you know I love the wilderness and adventure. I spent 21 days in the wilderness of the Talkeetna mountains in Alaska, on a NOLS course years ago. One day of Outward Bound should be well within my wheel house, especially given it was a work sponsored day. Well, the day was mostly in my wheelhouse...except when we were 40 - 50 feet up in the air on the high ropes challenge course.

The beginning of the course was mild, a rope crossing to a log crossing. Then intensity and difficulty increased with swings, yes swings suspended 40 - 50 feet in the air between two trees, we had to walk across them. We were moving through the course in teams of two. I was in the lead of my partner, heart thumping, muscles twitching. There I was standing on a platform slightly larger than my size 8 shoe, 50 feet up in the air in a swaying tree looking at our choices, the course split into two routes. The teams ahead of us had all chosen the route across the ladder, the other route was a wire spanning about 20 feet to the next tree. My partner and I decided to choose the less traveled route. To get to the wire we had to maneuver around the tree and transfer ourselves to the wire segment. I was in one word, terrified! My fear froze me in place, I was filled with self doubt. I was clenched. I looked at my partner, I looked at the other teams slowly making their way along the other course and everything went silent. In that moment I knew if I moved at my own pace, if I tuned out the noise, if I focused on my ability I would make it across this wire. I stepped off onto the wire, I felt the sway and I moved myself across the wire. I found the sweet spot in my vision and with each breathe I took another step to reach the safety of the next platform.

stock image, not the course I was on.

At the end of the course, with my feet solid on the ground, I became completely self aware. Aware of the root of my fear up in those trees. I had been afraid of falling, of being the one who didn't make it across, the one who would stand out by not finishing. There is was again, self doubt. I walked back under the course I had just completed, looked up and felt proud. Happy that I had finished, and proud that I had the courage to choose to finish without following the herd. My partner and I chose the route less travelled and we did it! The lesson presented itself, we were able to choose our path at our pace to achieve the result. And collectively as a team we all made it through the course, even though our routes or process varied, we all made it.

This brings me to yesterday.

Yesterday was one of those days where a younger (17 years younger) ultra fit, triathlon loving, iron man finisher friend said to me, "hey let's go hike somewhere above 12,000 feet" And I said...yes! Yes. I've got this. I just tackled a high ropes challenge course so hiking seemed like a comfortable thing to do. That is until we began hiking and I quickly realized that her pace and my pace were not quite in the same range. I let her know it was completely fine with me if she wanted to go ahead, not to worry I'd be slow and steady. I knew this trail, I'd done part of it before and I'd never made it to the top, to the ridge line, to the peak. I had a back up plan. I had a silent conversation with myself that I'd go as far as I'd gone before and it would be okay with me if she went to the peak and I didn't. I literally was rationalizing this in my head only moments into the hike.

The basin

We stopped to shoot photos of the beautiful basin near the base of the steeper hike to the ridge. This was the furthest I had ever made it when doing this hike before. And then, we kept going. And as the terrain got steeper and our pace divided, the silent conversation in my mind shifted, I found myself saying I'm going to the peak. I'm going to see what's on the other side. And it's okay if I'm not the first one to get there, it is okay.

I made it to the the ridge line.

And I got there! And only about a minute after my friend. When I finally gave myself permission to go at my own pace, reaching my peak became a reality! I chucked my self doubt over the other side of the ridge, and with undeniable self acceptance, I smiled from the inside out. It takes courage to show up and become who you really are, and it's really really rewarding and fun! Get out there, accept your pace....and I promise you will reach your peak.

bottom of page