A number of years ago, as I drove back to Ottawa after an interview in Hamilton, I ducked across the border and into the Adirondacks.
I was getting ready to say goodbye to life in the capital city (a place I’d called home for the past three years) and knew I couldn’t do so without exploring one of New York’s most sought after parks.
After finding the campsite I had been directed to, I assembled my beloved Hubba Hubba, slid into my sleeping bag and fell asleep with anticipation of the hike the next day. What I didn’t yet realize was that while doing so, I was also preparing myself for battle.
What I remember of my first Adirondacks experience is incredibly vivid: physical exhaustion, technical trail and mental depletion. The 14-kilometer hike I had planned was cut to 12 when I realized I just didn’t have it in me.
The sight of the parking lot brought a wash of relief; the sight of my tent, pure bliss.
Albeit beautiful, that region of upstate New York still stands as one of my onerous opponents.
Almost four years later with a race countdown ticking away, I find myself returning to those very same trails for training, only this time with ambitions to conquer the Great Range Traverse: a one-day, 40-kilometer hike over 8-12 of New York’s High Peaks.
A lofty goal? Perhaps. Necessary? Most definitely.
When signing up for the Cloudsplitter ultramarathon, I quickly discovered that following traditional training plans wouldn’t work for me. I became overwhelmed by the amount of numbers, discontent with the idea of joining a gym, and claustrophobic with the rigidity of a daily six-month schedule.
In order to accommodate, I had to mold my training plan into something I could work with and, more importantly, relate to. The final product, therefore, culminated into a set of additive, workable goals under the general theme of ‘suffer more now to suffer less later.’
With the first of these goals now just a week away, more than anything I try to prepare myself mentally for the Traverse and what’s to come along with it.
All pieces of research have left me both partly exhilarated and mostly terrified, making 3rd on Backpacker Magazine’s 2005 list of ‘America’s Hardest Day Hikes’ and referred to by a local ultra runner as one of the hardest things she’s ever done.
However challenging, I know that these experiences need to be considered investments; discomfort, struggle and internal confrontation the currency required for Cloudsplitter success.
I guess it has come – that inevitable time when training kicks up a notch and, consequently, right out of my comfort zone.
Suffer more now to suffer less later.
In the continuing battle of Bobbi vs. the Adirondacks, who will win?
Regardless of result, as my race partner and I continue to prepare and plan, I know I’ll always have ‘strength in numbers’ to fall back on.