An intense ridge-line hike was on the agenda and on the way up the mountain; I contemplated the effort that would be required of me on that day; not only the physical effort, but the mental effort as well. Mental fortitude is just as necessary as is the ability to prevail physically, but as I climbed that mountain and dropped down over and over again, I thought silently to myself, “I do so love to suffer.“
Despite how extreme that may sound, and by no means were we climbing Everest, I have learned to relish in the push that is required of me when racing, hiking or completing a task that feels at times overwhelming.
Just as I thought I was closing in on the final steps of our hike, I realized that I was indeed only half way to my destination. My legs burned, hips ached and my shoulders felt as though boulders were tied on pressing the breath and the gusto right out of my sails. I knew at the 10-minute break my family allotted, I needed to dive into my personal bag of grit, dig deep and push on. Mental fatigue is real, but there is nothing that fights stronger than tenacity (a virtue I pray both of my children obtain as they grow). Having the strength and the courage to push through pain, to stay when you would rather leave, to hike up when you long to hike down and to reach the summit, whatever summit it is you long to conquer, is worth the effort and this I had to remind myself.
So, for that mountain that spanked my ass and humbled me, for all the onlookers who muttered words under their breath at the child strapped to my back and for the negative self-talk that I had to more than once push aside, this is what I say to you and remind myself. If you want something you must find a way to achieve it, you must work hard, you must push through the pain that you will indeed suffer, but through it all, there are invaluable lessons to be learned. Suffering mentally and physically through sport teach us a great deal about ourselves. Some of my deepest thoughts took place in utter exhaustion; moments of clarity that rarely come without the sweat.
Once you reach your peak, whatever that peak may be or may represent, there is no better feeling in the world as the elation that washes over you once you stand on that summit. Chills wash over your body, the tears will begin to swell in the corner of your eyes and your heart will race at a dizzying speed. This is the feeling of conquering a task that at one time might have seemed remarkably impossible and I have learned to take in those moments as slowly as humanly possible. Something else always happens whenever I race, hike a tough trail, or spend time in nature, I think of my father, the very man who, along with my mother were my biggest fans and always showed up with gusto whenever I would compete in anything. I whisper a silent thank you, glance toward the heavens and push on.
There is no better accomplishment to be won than that of knowing you prevailed on your own terms, at your own pace, at your own free will and with the loving support of others. So, climb on, achieve your version of greatness and marvel in the views!
For more hiking information and detailed maps in Switzerland, please visit our previous post.