I blinked and suddenly the year was over.
Have you ever had one of those moments during a race? Earlier this year, during Tor des Geants, I thought I closed my eyes for a second or two while I was running up a hill. However, when I opened my eyes again I found myself staring at a completely new landscape. I had unknowingly covered some serious terrain, too driven to stop my legs from moving, but too sleep-deprived to form conscious memories of each step.
This past year has been like one long microsleep. I know I’ve covered a lot of ground, but I’m having trouble remembering exactly how I got to where I am now. If I close my eyes and concentrate hard enough, I see a memory collage of muddy shoes, armoured vehicles, Afghan women, desert hills and rooftop rounds. I see long nights at the office, long days on planes, and long strides on trail. I also see a year full of growth and questions, which leads me to my year-end reflections, following in the tradition of my 2014 and 2013 posts.
What have I learned? I’ve learned that it is possible for run for four days straight with only a few
hours of sleep. But you won’t run as fast or as well as someone who gets a few hours more.
I’ve learned that if you live in Israel/Palestine, almost anything you say on social media can (and will) be interpreted as biased. Stick to the law and the facts. It won’t necessarily help, but it’s a good rule to follow.
The words ‘hummus’ and ‘Hamas’ are often confused, especially when you live in Gaza. I discovered this when I announced it was international hummus day and got some strange looks back.
I’ve learned that armoured vehicles do not turn on a dime.
Even elite ultrarunners will have a beer before a race, which is more than enough of a green light for me. I learned that beer can definitely help calm the pre-race nerves, but unfortunately cannot cure an adductor pull to get you to the finish line.
For the last two years, I thought I was just too busy to have a relationship. I’ve learned that being “too busy” just meant wanting to prioritize other things. I’ll take a mountain trail or an Afghan adventure over a date any day of the week. Unless of course the date involves trail running in Afghanistan – game over.
I’ve learned to embrace the DNF. Just don’t ask me to do it again.
When we’re given compliments, we should accept them, rather than respond with arguments to the contrary.
I have a genetic weakness for Italians. Along with baby-saving doctors. Can you blame me? (just try)
I’ve learned – much to my relief – that Canada has not been lost forever.
Canadians proved in the recent election that we ultimately value respect for diversity and a commitment to gender equality. Don’t let me down, Justin.
I’ve learned that not all massages are relaxing or therapeutic.
Learning how to put on a brave face is a valuable skill. Learning when to take it off is just as important.
I’ve reminded myself that scars can be beautiful. Show them off.
And I’ve learned how to run a charity of which I can truly be proud.
Things I still need to learn? Endless. I don’t know when or how to get out of working in the field, but I figure it’ll happen when the stars align. I’m not sure how much racing is too much, but I’d rather go overboard than do too little.
I need to learn how to give up diet soda. I think this is the third year in a row I’ve put this on my list. Wondering when my teeth are going to fall out.
I have yet to learn how to live more like a ‘real’ adult, but I’m not sure I ever want to. Living like ‘me’ is too much fun. Maybe I just need to learn more when to pretend.
I would like to learn how to actually enjoy doing intervals, core work and stretching – all of the things I’m supposed to do to become a better runner. But those things really suck. Actually scratch this one – I’m fine being the runner I actually am. I’ll put this on next year’s list.
I need to learn how to sleep better. And longer. There’s just too much to do when I’m awake…
Thanks for following my blog this year. I hope you’ll stick with me on my 2016 adventures. More scrapes, more miles, more laughter and tears. I cannot wait to see what happens and find out where I will wind up next.
If there is anything you’d like me to write about this upcoming year, let me know by commenting below! Stay tuned and happy trails….. Try not to blink too long over the coming year.