What’s your story?
My favorite part of coaching is learning your story. As the founder of a charity that raises money by hosting running and cycling events and as a long time endurance athlete I’ve been around the block, track, course and trail lots of times. Through these processes I’ve been blessed to meet and get to know literally thousands of athletes. From world class racers to every day Janes and Joes, each of us has our story, our journey and our why.
What I’ve come to understand (and why I created Amaze Your Self Coaching) is that while each of us is as unique as our story a common thread loosely weaves us together.
Ultimately we are the doers. Those that set a goal and go out and get it done.
That is what our Facebook friends or people around the office see.
People see us as athletes that view challenge as opportunity, fear as a hurdle and willingly take risks on our journeys of discovery.
What I find intriguing though is how difficult it is for most of us to let on, to ourselves, let alone families, friends and significant others that we are afraid.
Afraid of potential failure.
Afraid of taking the risk.
Afraid of the suffering it takes to achieve some of these big goals.
Afraid of what they will say, and what we will say to ourselves if we fail.
In 1994 the very first Leadville 100 mountain bike race was established. Like I’m prone to do, I dove right in and registered.
In 1994 nobody was racing mountain bikes 100 miles (nobody was racing mountain bikes even 50 miles). I was an average mountain bike racer living in the hot bed racing town of Vail, Co. pretty much getting my ass handed to me each Tuesday night all summer long. I didn’t have legitimate chops to justify my dive into the very deep end of the pool. I was smart enough to realize this and made a commitment to myself to get serious about training and use the “hometown” advantage (Vail is only 35 miles from Leadville) and spend a lot of time on the course and do a lot of riding at 11,000’.
The more time I spent training in Leadville, the more I realized I was in way over my head. I reviewed maps, did a bit of math and arbitrarily decided I would manage to average at least 10 mph for the race thereby finishing under 10 hours (call it a completely uneducated guess).
This seemed like a reasonable goal and would give me plenty of cushion to meet the 12-hour cut-off. Of course on paper it was reasonable, but knowing that I had never really ridden a bicycle for more than 4 hours it was actually an audacious goal. When I thought about it it scared the shit out of me. So I tried hard not to think about it, and just like I said above, I didn’t tell ANYONE how afraid I was…
Truth be known I didn’t even say it to myself. The reality though sat silently coiled in the back of my mind, that dark serpent of fear ever ready to strike out at my self-confidence.
As spring turned to summer and the snow melted from the trails an amazing thing happened… For the first time in my Leadville training I started to bump into other athletes training on the trails. The “amazing” part was… they weren’t mountain bikers they were runners! (The run course and ride course shared a lot more terrain back then – and, for the record, the bike course was way harder than then it is now).
Imagine my amazement when I started to talk to and pick the brains of these veteran Ultra Runners? Holy crap 30 hours??? 25 hours was fast? People, ordinary people like the guy or the gal standing in front of me here on the trail could run on this terrain in these mountains at this altitude for 30 hours?
It was right there and right then that 10 hours on my bike took on a completely different and realistic perspective. The reality was nothing about the bike race had changed. Nothing about what I had to do to be ready to race had changed, but in my mind everything changed. What just a few days before had seemed to me almost impossible suddenly seemed like a piece of cake! (by comparison of course but still looking at it from my rosy colored glasses – 10 hours riding versus 30 hours running was nothing).
I was a dad with 2 young kids and a full time job but I kept my commitment to myself and spent as much time as I could riding in Leadville that summer. To this day I believe I can remember each time I came across a runner.
“Powerline” is an infamous section of the course that you must climb at about mile 80-83 inbound. It is steep as hell, long, and rugged. In training under good conditions you can usually ride this on a bike. On race day all but a very few must walk a very steep section just after the climb begins. In my early season training that first year I dreaded practicing this climb. It hurt and it never got any easier. But by mid-summer I was loving it! Why? Because I was riding up Powerline while those poor bastards training for the run had to walk the whole damn thing! All the way up I would say to myself, “8 or 9 hours in I’ll be facing this section in the race… but can you imagine having run 80 miles, be here in the dark and have to climb up this thing? Shit, this is a piece of cake and when I get to the top I can coast for a few – those sorry souls have to run!” The only thing about Powerline that changed was my perspective – but what a change it was!
Fast forward 24 years and here I am at AYS, with a lot of Leadville 100 rides and Leadville 100 runs under my wheels and my feet, sharing my memories and experience with you to make two points:
Get more comfortable with admitting you are afraid. Maybe just a little or maybe a lot but we all have concerns and fears when facing something new or big.
Name it and say it out loud: “Yes I am nervous” or if it’s a big challenge “Yes I am afraid.” “I am afraid because I don’t know.” “But I am strong enough to go and when I finish my fear will be replaced with joy and amazement and I will know that I CAN!”
And, if you don’t finish you’ll learn, augment your experience and next time be far less afraid – perhaps even more determined.
Whatever you face – find a way to adjust your perspective. If you look, there are ordinary people, just like you and just like me doing incredible, extraordinary things. Use this wider frame of reference to adjust your perspective.
So many times someone has said to me – “Incredible. You’ve done this, and you’ve done that, you must be X or Y to be able to have done such things!” It just isn’t that way. What I have is what you have too. Perhaps you don’t know it yet, or you haven’t developed it yet or you want to further develop it. But believe it or not you have it.
Today that’s what drives me. Helping you find that within you the commitment and belief to accomplish something you really really want. I know through decades of experience and accomplishments there are few better feelings than crossing your finish line!
Being coached at AYS will get you fit and work with you to adjust your perspective fully preparing you to go out and Amaze Your Self!
Call me – let’s chat. I’m ready to get started. Are you?
Yours in the Outdoors,