Craft a Year Full of Adventure and New Challenges

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” — George A. Sheehan

I believe I am meant to run through mountains, ride across desert dirt roads, immerse myself in the sea, explore less traveled paths, and actively engage in Nature. While on that journey maybe I can put a few sentences together that move others to pursue something similar, or better yet, to discover for themselves what they’re meant to be.

I’m confident each of us is born with a desire to explore and be adventurous. It’s in our DNA. We may not all aspire to scale El Capitan, summit Everest, ride across America, or do something that’ll get us on the cover of a magazine, but this doesn’t mean our personal yearnings for exploration aren’t worthy pursuits. What is important is not to let the itch to do something pass without a scratch or two. We must do before the doing can no longer be done.

“Someday. One of these years. When I have more time.”

I’ve softly spoken these words in disdain many times over the accruing decades. Before this year comes to an end I’ll be 50. Fifty. Five Zero. Five decades. Half a century. When I was in my teens 40 seemed over-the-hill. Now I’m still climbing to reach new peaks. I’m confident I have many good and active years ahead of me, but I must acknowledge that the years behind me now outnumber those ahead.

Happily, I’ll continue to push my body, and mind, further. Gratefully, I’ll challenge my resolve and resilience. With awe and respect, I’ll step into the forests and submerge myself beneath salted seas.

What I won’t do is wait.

I challenge you, reader, to not wait. I challenge you to muster the courage and will to become the person you feel you’re meant to be.

This may be a magazine for the endurance athlete. You may not find inspiration and clues to what you’re meant to be within these pages. However, you are reading these words so I’ll assume that a physical challenge moves you (literally) to be better. The growth a physical challenge offers extends into every facet of our lives. When you challenge yourself on the road or trail you may find yourself better equipped to challenge yourself at work, within your relationships, and in your community.

When planning the year, aside from organized events, be sure to schedule some of what I like to label “humble adventures.” For some, it’s important to have specific racing goals to keep us committed to our training, to test ourselves, and to engage in the community, but crafting yearly personal projects is a good way to stay healthy and fresh, both physically and mentally. Humble adventures challenge us in ways that an organized race may not. They require more planning of routes, travel, sleep, food and hydration requirements, as well as challenge us to fine tune our gear selection. Choose projects that take you out of your comfort zone, but don’t jump right into stressful and anxiety inducing situations. If you’re a city road runner who hasn’t experienced trails in the forest or mountains, plan a few afternoon summer runs in some of the spectacular mountain ranges the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Then map out a whole weekend of adventure.

This past year proved itself to be full of adventures and new challenges for myself. I raced less than I had intended, but I embarked on a number of humble adventures. It was a year of firsts because I made the decision to no longer wait. Someday became today.

A girl and I spent a good portion of the year on the road. We spent the summer in the Eastern Sierra exploring its labyrinth of trails. We haphazardly cobbled together an attempt at bike packing. We put together an overnight fastpack trip traversing parts of the John Muir and the Pacific Crest Trail. We explored several miles of steep trails in Yosemite Valley. We drove to Colorado to support a friend’s attempt at the Leadville 100-mile trail run and afterward tackled our first lung-busting, thigh-burning 14K foot peak ascent.

The steel steed packed and ready for it’s first overnight bike packing trip. Photo: Paul Lieto

I share this not to get kudos from you on Strava, or likes on Instagram, but rather to demonstrate that we each have permission to craft our own humble adventures. How we define adventure is personal. The only requirements as I see it is to engage in Nature and to push yourself beyond your comforts in order to grow and learn.

My goal for 2019 is to again prioritize humble adventures, but as well, fill out my calendar with organized races that will push me physically and challenge me mentally.

With that, it’s time to plan. It’s time to open our calendars and event guides and begin planning a challenging year of adventure and racing. We’ve put together several articles in this issue to help you with that. Max King writes about the task of scheduling the race calendar, Matt Lieto gives us some insights into gravel racing, and Susan Barrows puts together a list of Pacific Northwest marathons perfect for the newbie.

Get at it and keep moving, folks. You’re meant to enjoy this life regardless of age or ability.

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Paul Lieto
Paul Lieto is the Editor for RaceCenter Magazine. He currently lives in Bend, OR where he writes, runs trails and rides dirt.