I am Not Superhuman by Jennifer Ludington
The Baldy Hill climb is an event that has been calling to me for the past few years. It seemed monumental and completely out of my reach. It is a race not for the faint of heart, it takes courage to look up that ascent to the top at 9,600 feet and realize there is no shortcut, no easy way to the top, no way to cut any of its jagged corners in order to gain a few seconds on your competitors. There is no strategy for this race, just pure guts and determination. The climb is 2 miles straight up the face of the Warm Springs side of Mt. Baldy; 3,200 vertical feet of Idaho at its finest, a world renowned mountain that hosts tens of thousands of world class skiers in the winter. Baldy is a whole different animal during the summer months, when it’s covered with rock and wild terrain instead of sleek smooth snow.
I imagined myself racing to the top in a wave of glory. I imagined placing in the top three competitors in my division. I trained, I trained, and I trained some more. For eight months I had my eyes set firmly on my assumed glory. I got stronger, sleeker, more mobile, more powerful and then the unexpected, the unforeseen the uncontrollable happened. My ego was once again placed firmly in check and I was humbled right back to the drawing board. I tore my meniscus. I tried to ignore it. I told myself I was just aging and aches and pains happened. I was lying to myself…I finally went to the doctor and he put me on modified activity and physical therapy. Modified? What...NO! I was told I would not be racing. WHAT….NO! I frantically pleaded my case to him. I explained this is not how it works. I do this for a living. I know how to train, I know how to get stronger, and I know how to fuel my body! How could this happen to me?
Well in hindsight I now know why this happened. My EGO needed a firm check. As I began my reflection I realized I stopped enjoying the journey and was consumed by the end result, almost obsessed. It became about what I could accomplish, how high I could place on that coveted Baldy Hill climb winners list, how I could prove that I am a superhuman athlete! Needless to say I am not superhuman, I am not my physical capabilities, I am not defined by my athletic abilities or accomplishments. Accepting that it is not always all or nothing is big leap for me.
That “race” day in September I hiked the beautiful trail without any expectations. I enjoyed the process, the day, the sunshine, the laughter and my fellow Baldy Hill climbers.