It happened 20 minutes into the first session on the Friday evening at training camp.
I was at Snow Camp; a training camp to help prepare participants for the Big Foot Snow Trail Marathon (Australia’s first marathon on snow) at Falls Creek in September.
Bruce started discussing gear requirements for the race -- specifically how to walk and run in snowshoes — and then I felt it wash over me...
What the fuck have I done? I’m not going to be ready for this race in 9 weeks.
I don’t know about you but those thoughts are always accompanied by a feeling that’s a cross between nausea and a heavy block of concrete sitting in my stomach.
What the fuck have I done?
What made it worse in that moment was knowing I’m an Ambassador for this event. I was invited to participate. I’m supposed to be shouting it from the rooftops and telling everyone how great it is (and it absolutely is!) but I couldn’t get past the thought - what the fuck have I done?
This wave of doubt and nausea swept over me a number of times over the weekend; on the first climb of the day when everyone disappeared ahead and I was left peeling off layers of clothing and trying to stop my snow-shoes from making the tell-tale clunking noise that’s a sign you aren’t walking in them properly (according to Bruce’s briefing the night before).
It swept over me again when I looked at the Strava numbers for myself and others attending the camp and wondered how on earth I was going to make the cut-off.
When one of the über-fit guys told me it took them 1hr to travel just 5km through a section of the course that was ungroomed (and that was also likely to be ungroomed on race day).
And again when one of the coaches leading the camp said to think of the marathon as the equivalent to a 60km trail race, rather than “just” a marathon.
But as a stood in the snow at the crest of a hill on that first morning surrounded by isolation and absolute silence, I realised this...
It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if I’m first or last or I miss the cut-off — because it’s not important.
What is important is the experience. What is important is saying yes to opportunities that excite me and the experiences that follow.
If I had listened to my doubts when I was offered the chance to be part of Australia’s first snow marathon, I wouldn’t know what it was like to stand in that absolute isolation and silence of the backcountry at Falls Creek and not see a single person (like I do now).
I wouldn’t know how incredibly blue the sky is in the Alpine region at that time of the year - I’ve seen it in summer, never in the middle of winter (like I do now).
I wouldn’t know the sense of accomplishment I felt when I finally got the damn snow-shoes not to clack so loudly (like I do now).
And I wouldn’t know what it’s like to snowshoe across freshly fallen snow that no one or nothing has walked across (like I do now). FYI, it’s freaking hard!
If I listen to my doubts today and say no to this amazing opportunity, I’m going to miss out on the extraordinary experience that lining up at the start of Australia’s first snow marathon will be.
And sure, I’m still nervous and questioning myself and my ability to finish this event within the cut-off. But you know what?
If I got a set of scales and put “the experience” on one side and my doubts and fears on the other; there’s no contest - the experience (whether that is finishing the race or not) will win every time. And, quite simply, my fears aren’t worth missing out on experiences such as these.
I choose to say yes to the experience and the journey rather than my fears.
This weekend has been a great reminder for me on why it’s important to say ‘yes’ to the things, races, events and experiences that excite you - even when every fibre of your being is screaming at you (what the fuck have you done).
Even though you have no friggin' idea how you’re actually going to do it.
Say yes to what lights up your soul and be grateful for, and welcome, all the experiences that follow.
I know I will be.
Postscript: I shared my experiences and lessons from the Big Foot Snow Trail Marathon here.