This is not the blog I was going to write. It was going to be about others, their stories, tales from the mountain trails. But Life gives us opportunities to experience things out of our control and choose how they will affect us. We can’t control much, except how we show up. That is perhaps the toughest and the coolest thing I’ve learned as an adult.
Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I was going to summit a mountain, running with my 3 girls together. Fate took a turn by way of a very hot sunny day and 80 parched athletes on a mission. I made a last minute decision to send the girls up the mountain without me, thinking that if I could coordinate the rest of the day well enough, I’d have time to climb Lady MacDonald before the sun set. That was the summit I’d really wanted and if my girls weren’t too tired from Ha Ling, we could still go together. Who knows – maybe Todd would be done his marathon of summits and have enough stamina for a fourth summit. What was I smoking, right? The hot sun was making me delusional.
On the way up Ha Ling, my oldest daughter got lost, never reaching the summit. I was disappointed for her as it would have been her first summit (she’d always been at soccer tournaments in past years). I was frustrated for me because she wouldn’t have gotten lost if I’d taken her. It was definitely an “I’ve let my daughter down” moment. Still, my other two girls did the summit all on their own. Afterward, hearing how my youngest convinced my scared middle daughter to go all the way up, I felt a little less neglectful as I could see their confidence and independence blossom.
Even more determined than ever to make Lady Mac happen for me and my oldest daughter, I knew that Todd was making good time on his summits and that if he could finish by 4pm, we’d be golden to head out. Other things happened and plans changed again. While Todd was finishing his Triple Crown, a friend was waving goodbye to hers as she was being heli-lifted from her second summit. Meanwhile, at least 50 other runners were still slogging through their own relatively less but just as real suffering to doggedly finish the Triple Crown before time ran out.
As food was prepared and drinks handed out, I watched runner after runner arrive at the park exhausted and fulfilled. Their weary smiles told a tale of adventures, one story weaving into the next. The last runners arrived at 8:30pm, their words and emotions tripping over each other to spill out how horrible and incredible their day had been. The best adventures are usually like that.
I can’t say that I’m not disappointed to have missed out on writing my own mountain story yesterday, but it’s a minor detail in the greater scheme of community and, well, life. I’m not injured. I can go anytime. That alone is a gift. I’m already planning a trip with just me and my girls to finish what we started, together. We might even bring along dad for a family summit photo, as long as I don’t have to keep up with him. “Meet you at the top!” While I didn’t get to run with any one person – bonding on a trail adventure of epic proportions – I did get to be a small part of every person’s experience as I witnessed their struggles and triumphs from dawn until dusk. A lifetime in a day.