Another trip around the sun, another moment to reflect on what was and what could have been. Now we start fresh. This is the time where we get amped up for what is next. Start the planning and preparation cycle once again with hopes of executing every plan to 100%, exactly as it is laid out in our mind.
We see it, we practice it, we train for it, we read up on it, we tell our friends about it, it consumes our thoughts at work. We have to tell family we can't make it because it doesn't fit into our well laid out plan. Then the day comes and we set out to conquer it. Everything is going exactly to plan then..... poof... it all falls apart. Failure.
My resolution on January 1, 2016 was to run across the entire Pacific Crest Trail though the state of Oregon with 2 friends and a crew. We would attempt to do it faster than anyone had before. My entire year revolved around this single event that was to take place over 453 miles during 8 days of July. We were raising money for charity so there was exposure on the event. One of the fellow runners is an elite ultrarunner so the spotlight got even brighter. There was even a short film being made about it. This was by far and away the biggest thing I had ever attempted and there were more eyes on it that I could have ever imagined. It's the sort of thing where when you fail, everyone sees it. And I failed. Less than 1/2 way completed, after 215 miles in 4 day, I was forced to drop with an injury. It was an abrupt ending to something that had been building up for over a year of planning and preparation.
I failed at crossing Oregon via the Pacific Crest Trail. My friends went on to achieve the goal, though also adjusted, in the second fastest time ever. A movie was made about it. It has been shown all over the US and now has been picked up for some worldwide showings as well. Each time there is a new showing or another film festival picks it up it is oh so bitter sweet. I could not be more proud of my friend and filmmaker Steven for his great work being shown to more people or for my friends who gutted though obstacles, lack of sleep, extreme pain and fatigue to complete the trail. But me.... I'm the guy that didn't make it. I'm the one who's resolution didn't come to pass.
This weighed on me heavy for months. My head hung low. Some of it was physical as even the comparatively short amount that I did cover was still a lot of miles and effort. Most of it was in my head. Mentally this hurt. Once I dropped I had the opportunity to leave it all behind and go home with my wife and kids who met up with us along the trail one day. But, I continued on helping until the end. I took over new duties of working with the crew, moving camp, lining up pacers to run with these guys though the days and nights, keeping the families up to date on progress and when they might complete the task and keeping the runners on pace. I was neck deep in event that was supposed to be mine and not in the role I was supposed to be playing. Every second of every day for the next 5 days after dropping was a constant reminder of what I was not doing. It is not everyday where you fail at something then can't get away from it by hopping in the car and going home. Or where once you make your peace the wound is opened again with another airing on the big screen.
Time has passed and I've accepted what happened. I went for something huge and it didn't come to fruition. Failure is an interesting thing as what really defines failing is how you react in that moment or the moments after. I could say that the views I saw in the first 4 days were alone worth it and they probably were. I could say that a fire was lit in me and pushed me to run an unplanned race where I ran one of my best times ever. That alone is a good enough to declare a win for the year. I could even say that just being a part of this adventure in any capacity was amazing and it was. But none of those are enough to make up for that Resolution.
What does? 24 hours after I dropped out the runners came into the camp that I help set up with all of our families present to cheer them in. We fed them, cleaned them up, gave them their itinerary for sleep and the next leg of the trail they needed to cover, then let them sleep. All the hustle and bustle stopped, families headed home, the quiet crept in, the muscle fatigue, sleep deprivation, and overwhelming emotion came to a head as I watched my chance of leaving all of this failure behind drive away down the hill. This moment bent over on with my hands on my knees with tears streaming down my face into the dirt defined my year.
We always look at others' situations from the outside and say things like "if that was me I would have ......" but the reality is we rarely get the chance to do such thing. In this moment, this specific blip of time, I did what I hoped I would have done. I stayed and saw it through in a new role when every fiber said to just get away. Hindsight is 20/20 and there are moments everyday as a parent, husband, employee, runner, and friend where I fail. I look back and wish I would have handled something differently. I don't make the decision that I envision myself making. I don't live up to my perceived vision of myself. But this moment I nailed it. Success.