In The Footsteps of Greatness - Chapter 1 (Excerpt)
January 21, 2014
As promised, here is an excerpt from the first chapter of my book that will be coming out in the Spring (see the previous blog post for an excerpt from the Introduction). It is a memoir and accounting of my week long adventure through the Sierras along the John Muir Trail. Enjoy!
Chapter 1 - Training My Mind & Body (Excerpt)
It was the fall of 2011 and I had just finished reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. We were celebrating our three-year anniversary at a quaint San Francisco hotel, and as I ran through Union Square on the oddly brisk Bay Area morning, I noticed that I was actually enjoying myself. For a former baseball player (and a husky one at that) turned average triathlete, that was curious and - awesome. I smiled as I realized that I felt light and fast for perhaps the first time ever. Up to that point I had heard of the “runners high”, as if I were an explorer and it was some rare and elusive beast that was always one step ahead of me; about people who looked forward to running instead of simply bracing themselves for it and accepting it as an inevitable and uncomfortable part of staying in shape or completing a triathlon. But here I was cruising down the city streets like Prefontaine.
I’m not going to attribute my entire transformation to McDougall’s book, but it did get me thinking about my run technique and opened me to the possibility that running could be fun. It also piqued my interest in trail running, which turned out to be a crucial piece of my story as an athlete. A little quicker turnover, a slight forward lean from my ankles, foot-strike more toward the ball of my foot. Add some belief and hope. Stir in a healthy dose of loping through the wild on dirt paths. Learn, improve, enjoy, repeat. This was the recipe that I just kind of stumbled upon and then actively engaged in as I felt its magic. And as I started sewing my running oats a bit, I looked with new-born eyes at the open world before me. What should I do with these new running chops?
The John Muir Trail whispers had been dormant for years as I had almost convinced myself that it was simply unattainable and unwise. Some things just aren’t a good fit, right? However it was precisely this uncertainty that made some harder part of me want…need, to test myself again. Since the last JMT debacle I had built a business and completed an Ironman, so the mental barriers around my capabilities had been pushed back. I believed I could accomplish almost anything. It was the “almost” that decided it for me. I was going to return to the John Muir Trail. It would be hard… perhaps the hardest thing I’d ever done. But this time I would bring vastly more perspective, experience, determination, preparation, and humility. And I would stand on top of Mt. Whitney with my hands held high.