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It's our last, most important week. Tapering. You've been working hard for the last twelve weeks, improving your mobility, building core strength, hitting full-body workouts, not to mention you've rucked all those miles. You've thought about how you'll fare on the long-haul miles during your 12, 20 or 26-mile rucks. You've felt your legs quake or ache on the hills during your Conditioning Ruck. You've learned the ropes of the navigating apps during the Navigation Ruck. All this time, you've been driven by the final goal to ruck 50-miles - an unheard-of achievement by most athletic standards.
You've done hard events before. You know how to get comfortable being uncomfortable. You're not scared of the pain of a tired body. You're prepared. You know the reward of a completed goal is bigger, and better, than you can imagine, and you focus on that achievement instead.
You've cultivated mental strength this whole time. If you're unsure, it's time to believe it now.
Ward against taking your own self out - sabotaging your own efforts - when your body gets tired and your will gets weak. Welcome the moment, however good or bad or awful, and see it for what it is. A moment. The next one will come and wash it away. You've spent so much time anticipating this day. We all want time to go quickly when we're finally at the true challenge - the moment that finally truly challenges us, when we wish for it to all end, and quickly - but you don't want to be on the other side of this yet.
You want the sweat and pain and aches and aggravation. Welcome it. You signed up for that. Don't let 'quit' silently creep into your mind without a way to shut it down, immediately. As the aches grow, as the miles wear down, as the hours slow, smile. Acknowledge that there is literally nowhere else you'd rather be than right there, right then. In all of your personal history, know that there was never going to be any other way for you to spend that particular day.
Keep in mind why you're there.
If you get hurt, know that sometimes as an athlete you have to go a little backward to go forward.
If you sit down, exhausted and unwilling to stand up, set your timer for 1:00 to have a temper tantrum, have a snack, and get.your.ass.back.up.
Let the Star Course test you, if that's what you want. You might be curious about your mettle. You may have just been curious about the team setting, or the city, or any number of things. In any case, the course is an adventure. Don't miss the parts of a city you never would have seen, speeding by in a car. Keep your eyes open to appreciating a city in a way you never would have seen it before. Appreciate the uniqueness, or beauty, or even just the secret, gleeful awfulness of the experience.
Think about your body, and how grateful you are to have strong legs, a strong back, and a strong will. You know people in your life who walk to the car, to their office, and then back to their cars at night. You know people who are hurting, who are sick, or who are no longer with us. Think about them. Dedicate miles to a friend, family member or stranger, and keep their face in the forefront of your mind. Think about the courage it takes to do difficult things, and about everything you've done to cultivate courage in your own life.
Prepare to enjoy every moment. Acknowledge that "demons" exist, but acknowledge they also MAY NOT. It's okay to have an event that's strictly fun, where you relished the work and miles and didn't have one dark thought. Secret: dark thoughts aren't necessary to have a meaningful event. You've trained for this and you're prepared. It doesn't have to be something you approach with dread. Not every event, even a long-ass 50 miles, has to be the event that "changed you." Meaning happens during the training, and it gives its final exclamation point on your event day. It can "just" be a wild and memorable adventure, and be an awesome photo in the scrapbook of your own incredible life. Don't feed the negative feelings with "oh no, here it comes." Consider how you handle difficult things in your day-to-day life. You didn't just decide to ruck 50 miles by accident. You planned for this. You purposefully trained for this. Don't buy "punching demons in the throat" as your only ticket into this party.
Be grateful for the opportunity, instead. Put your whole heart into this. The achievement you will feel will be second-to-none.
This is our love letter to Horizon. This is our love letter to PATHFINDER rosters, your commitment, your courage, and your determination. Get living.
- Amy & Lyell