'Courage is like a muscle, it gets strengthened by use'
As athletes we spend time training for our upcoming events. We decide what that event may be and we structure specific training. When I was training to do Leadman I wasn't swimming because I was putting all my effort into running and biking. I have been back in the pool swimming and I have found that although I am not swimming as well as I once was, I still am able to swim. Each time I go to the pool I am getting stronger and feeling better. I am restrengthening my swimming muscles that I had given a break. After over 20 years of swimming I am finally able to say there is muscle memory and recall for the feel of the water. Getting older has its advantages, just like my swimming technique and muscles I have many more years of base training in courage.
This last year I confronted many of my fears. I took them on head on and I didn't back down. I was terrified of doing the Leadman but I broke it down into tangible parts and got to work. I was petrified of making the major life changes that I undertook, but like in running the 100 miles I took one step and just kept on taking the next steps gaining momentum. Throughout it all my friends and family kept telling me I had the strength and courage to do what needed to be done. I was full of fear, fear of disappointing others, fear of failure, fear of the unknown and fear of pain. But courage isn't about lack of fear. Courage is about facing the fears, acknowledging them and moving forward anyways.
'Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear-not absence of fear' Mark Twain
In life when we are going through events or experiences we don't always know why. It is in hindsight that we gain insight. I now know why I spent the last year training my courage. I had draw on every bit of that courage over a week ago. My best buddy who had been my constant companion for over 12 years was struggling. She was having neurological episodes and they were getting more severe. I had always promised her a quality life and that quality was gone. As much as it pained me to watch her lose her dignity and spark I knew that the pain of losing her would be greater. I had to draw on every ounce of strength and courage that I had. Luckily, I was not alone and her ability to create love benefited us both. On April 28th at our home Tana was put to rest. I feel that a part of my heart and soul was taken with her. I miss her tremendously but I loved her enough to take on this pain so that she would be able to run fast again and be at peace.
'Being loved deeply by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage'-Lao Tzu
I can't explain the connection that I had with Tana very well. I know that she did way more for me than I ever did for her. Last summer she was my lifeline when I was facing my fears and finally becoming honest with myself. Whenever I was overwhelmed or feeling shell shocked she would know just what to do. Sometimes, she would rest her head on my leg, other times she would throw her toy at me. Either way, she always made me know I wasn't alone and that we were a team. The last year of her life she got to live in the mountains and be in the snow and she always had a smile on her face. It is through her that I have met many wonderful people and she continued to make special connections right up until the end.
Tana is no longer physically present but I feel her every where. Since I let her go I have had amazing runs. It is like old times and I sense her running right next to me, except uphill then she charges and taunts me from the top. My ears still strain for her sounds at night, I still think to open her door in the morning and I still look in my mirror every time I drive expecting to see her lounging back there watching the world pass. I don't have the heart yet to wash her nose prints off the windows or vacuum all her fur out of the cars but even when I do those things I know that her nose prints will never be erased from my heart.
'Without great love, we don't experience great loss'.
Tana taught me about unconditional love and complete trust. In the end that is what it is all about. Loving and trusting and forgiving. She gave me so many gifts and I am so grateful for all that we shared. I'm glad that she was here long enough to see me really happy with a life full of love and laughter. So, if you see me out on the trails and I am laughing and smiling looking down to my left, just know that Tana and I are doing what we loved to do together best. AND watch out if you are racing me cause I have a special angel pulling me along:)
'Whoever said diamonds are a girls best friend, never had a dog'.
True courage comes when you allow more love than fear into your heart-Kiki