Uncertain Musings: Where do you stand?

The Current State of our Home, March 2020

Peace is awareness without fear.

It comes from knowing what you can control and acting; while also knowing what you do not control and letting go.

The turning points in our life happen when we understand how little we control but how powerful those few things can be.

OR we recognize that something we thought was within our means is truly not.

It is precisely times where everything swirls in chaos that we have incredible opportunities to redefine ourselves. These moments, or periods, force us to question what we are about and what we can actually do to accomplish those goals. 

And if it is a chaos that is impacting the world beyond our mind, there is a good chance that everything is being questioned.

There will be a new normal once everything settles down and you are not beholden to who you might have been prior to the tumult consuming society.

Do you know where you will stand when the world continues?

Do you know upon what you will stand when the earth finds its equilibrium?

Mental Prowess Part 3: Alchemy of Turning Mistakes into Knowledge

Check point three was 45 miles into my Shenandoah Mountain 100 ride. It is located at the base of a downhill run that rides like a wooden roller coaster: tight turns, stomach altering elevation changes, and near misses of low hanging tree limbs. The descent was several miles of thrills that set the mind racing with norepinephrine and gave me a sense that I can walk on water. I felt great rolling into the stop! I took very little time to eat and refill my water and felt like the remaining 55 miles were mine.

Things turned quickly in the next section of the ride.

The course to check point four starts with several miles of flat highway riding. It can be a spot to pick up ground and I thought that was what I was doing when I put my head down to draft off of a guy passing me. We took turns pulling to the trail head. The pace was high and I kept some of the steam up into the notoriously technical climb in the woods. Eventually I succumbed to the grade, the roots, the rocks and my rising heart rate. I hiked a good portion of the final ascent, but alas the summit came.

I took a breath, took in the view and giddily I mounted my metal stead.

Something was wrong. I could not maintain my line on the single track. I found myself off course and unable to sustain any meaningful speed. Each root and rock sent a shock wave through my bike and into my body. After a miserable few miles of down hill, I slow pedaled the final mile of flat into checkpoint four. A volunteer made eye contact and asked if I was alright. I was not alright. I tried to avoid verbally acknowledging the anguish but my body would not hide the truth. She persisted and brought me food, filled my camel bak and made sure the mechanic lubed my chain.

I did not know if the next 18 miles to checkpoint five were possible, let alone the remaining 43 to the finish.

There is a good chance the over exertion on the highway clouded my thinking. I did not listen to the cues of my body, or even the voice in my head, until I started THE DESCENT of the day 20 miles later. Several hundred meters into what should have been my entrance to euphoria, I encountered the same sensations of the previous down hill. This time I stopped. I decided to check my machine and behold I found the problem! My suspension was locked out by mud. I spent a few moments cleaning and working the parts and got my bike operating much better. I remounted and proceeded to find a state of flow far beyond my typical daily existence!

Processing the experience allows me to see a lesson I can take into life beyond the saddle. Your brain and your body are finely tuned machines, particularly if you have done your homework or practiced. They can provide you with incredible information that you just need to pay attention to. I rode 20 plus miles on faulty equipment. It cost me time, it cost me energy, it could have lead to a DNF and it could have damaged my nearly-new-shamefully-expensive bike.

 

Space to think turns mistakes into the gold of knowledge!

Mental Prowess Part 2: Joy is an Energy Pool

Joy in an image

Shenandoah Joy William Ward [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

I am reading Tribe of Mentors. The concept for the book is quite simple. Well known life guru Tim Ferriss decided there are a large number of people he wants to get to know better. To do so, he made a unique proposition to highly successful folks within and slightly beyond his network.

I, Tim Ferriss, am publishing my next book and I want to include you in the book, all you have to do is answer these questions.

Being published in a book with a widely read author is a pretty valuable proposition for just about any one. Needless to say he elicited responses from incredible people.

There are a few themes that show up consistently throughout the dozens of responses from highly accomplished individuals: fitness and meditation.

It is not surprising to see these things prioritized for folks. But if you think about it, for many of the respondents neither is “billable” nor directly contributes to their work.

Why are they valuable; so much so, that one would taut them in writing in a very public way.

Fitness and meditation are spaces to think! This post and the following three; is my take on what makes mental liberation so valuable.

Joy
In mountain biking you often see sights that are only accessible by trail and therefore cut off to many viewers. Please keep this a secret, but the western edge of the Shenandoah Valley is gorgeous! There are hues of blues you can only imagine, a rainbow of wild flowers popping on the horizon, and expansive mountain vistas. My Shenandoah Mountain 100 ride this year also packaged some magic.
Hours of rain the night before created less desirable traction conditions but also produced fantastical atmosphere. As I gained elevation I literally began to float among the clouds. As I maintained a pedal cadence, I could feel the beat of my heart radiating through my body, and the air was hazy making my view of trees and other riders seem to be apparitions. The trance like state put me in new dimensions of euphoria!

Processing the experience allows me to hold onto this blissful moment. It will linger in my mind as a pool of beauty to tap into when I need to be reminded of what is wonderful in this world! I have expanded an internal source of energy that no one can remove from me and is available at any time. Space to think allows momentary happiness to turn into life-long joy.

Mental Prowess Part 1: Stop and Think, you don’t have time not to

Post 100 miles and 13,000 feet of climbing

On Sunday September 1st 2019 I got beat up.

It was my fault. A series of decisions, and probably my biology, put me in the position to be in immense pain that day.

I completed the Shenandoah 100, an ultra-endurance backwoods bike race in the mountains of Virginia. The experience was taxing on my body. My quads were quaking, my forearms were on fire, and my body was bruised. Twelve hours of physical exertion is a lot to endure.

I thought I planned my recovery week accordingly. I allowed myself to step out of my rigorous workout routine and planned to refrain from general physical activity. My body rebounded quickly. The following day I was achy but was not debilitated by pain. On the second day, I returned to my bike to commute to meetings and by the fourth day I was back in the gym.

However I had not recovered.

I neglected to consider the mental aspects of regaining normalcy.

I planed to proceed through my typical professional week. I maintained my usual load of meetings, I had a major event on the books, and the calendar had a launch date for a significant project. My mind needed to be incredibly active to accomplish the load.

I unknowingly did not create space to process the experience.

A critical part of endurance athletics, or doing anything hard in life, and quite possibly the true challenge, is the mental aspect. It takes a tremendous amount of will power to push through extreme activity. There comes a point where you are bored of having done the same thing for extended duration of time. You just have to keep going. There comes a point where irritation hits your awareness. You just have to keep going. There comes a point where you feel the pain. You just have to keep going. There comes a point where you ask why am I doing this. You just have to keep going.

To accomplish the big and challenging things in life you have to override your brain.

Mental prowess is developed through such exercises. This self induced trauma creates frameworks to see things differently. This new perspective is where you will find power to leap over personal and professional hurdles.

So what happened on my ride that I needed to get out and what value might doing so provide?