Silver Lining

by winteryder

I ran out of clean base layer tops last week. Between crevasse rescue training, early morning workouts and evening runs with Schatzi, I had recycled my few layers to the point of needing a fumigation remediation ceremony.

Reluctantly, I slid into a soft dark blue shirt. One I hadn’t worn since September, 2014. It’s a great performance fabric, but emblazoned three ways with Equinox Marathon insignia. That run culminated five months of racing, fifteen races on roads and trails over the Interior of Alaska and the completion of two different running series: the Flint Hills road race series and the Running Club North Trails series. I raced a total of 146 miles- everything from a one mile time trial on a track to a full trail marathon that’s reckoned to be the second most difficult marathon in the United States.
It’s been almost five months and my feet are still recovering.

I’m training for climbs in the Delta Range over the next couple months, with a fifty mile fat bike race and a 25k classic ski race thrown in mid-March.
On Sunday night, as I watched Alex Honnold build character through Sufferfest II and two crazy Brits row their way across the Indian Ocean… and then swim… the Banff Mountain Film Festival worked its annual magic. I remembered again how important it is to know what you’re willing to suffer FOR. What is worth your time, your pain, your sleepless nights, your caged and kenneled weekdays- what is your silver lining?

After a couple of absolutely gut-wrenching difficult years, I’m holding my silver lining close to my heart. Learning to NOT take the easy road, to absolutely walk away and withdraw from things and people that do not move me forward… learning how to keep on keeping on, long after there’s little strength or hope… that’s been my ultra-marathon.

I put the shirt on. It’s more than just a marathon. It’s more than just running my fastest half marathon and fastest 10K in the same summer. It’s that feeling you get from showing up for your own life every single day of every week. From fueling correctly for the challenges you’ve chosen, to falling silent as you excavate new mental pathways to excellence, there is work that can only be done alone.

The mountains are calling. The open road is calling.

This year, my answer IS the silver lining.

* * *

I wrote this in February of 2015. In the cold, dark, unrelenting winter months where the unseen, unacknowledged work actually gets done- I didn’t have much to say. I left a lot behind in 2014, maybe too much (or maybe not enough). Friendships broke down like old cars on a back road, I stopped hauling new engines out there and doing all the repair/replace/restore. I just stopped. My daughter is fighting an unseen, unknown auto-immune disease that is slowly taking out her joints. Inflammation is rampant, pain is unresolvable (is that even a thing?). I powered through. Mostly, alone. Day after dark day, night after sleepless night. She grinds her teeth and cries out in her broken sleep, her joints swollen and hot, rashes breaking out, spreading like wildfire through dead grass.

I get up, I go to work. She gets up, she goes to school. We do all the Things Which Must Be Done. We never saw a wild thing sorry for itself…
She’s hung up her wrestling shoes for the last time. Her black belt, her medals, her hard-won trophies are wrapped carefully and, like mine, in a box. There’s nothing much to say. We trained side by side for four years, sparred and bruised and won and lost. We moved forward from Taekwondo: she opened the throttle and wrestled full time for two and half years. I trained in Krav Maga, then instructed. We chased our dreams, held nothing back. We left it all on the mat, my little girl and me.

How do you hold a broken dream in your hands, cradle it like Life itself, and will it to fly away?

Life is only beginning, for both of us. I tell myself that, as I marinade chicken kabobs and cut zucchini and mushrooms and tomatoes and onions and bell peppers and skewer them all in a definite pattern in preparation for the first spring grill-fest.

I can’t change other people. That realization rises with the smoke from the grill. I can’t change the fact that I live small, I live hard. And even if I could change something, it would only be to give my daughter a bathroom with a shower. Because it hurts to watch her suffer needlessly.

She doesn’t talk about it, doesn’t complain. I wish I were half as tough, half as strong as this woman I share my life with. I’m damn lucky. We are compatible. We aren’t the same, we aren’t even similar in so many ways- but we’ve got the ability to communicate. To talk about what Matters. In sharing the load, we’ve lightened it for each other.

She tells me that it matters to her that I pack my bags every night, portion out my two breakfasts, two lunches, protein shakes, salads, veggies and iced tea… and crawl into bed at 8:30 pm. It matters that I wake up at 4:00 am every morning and I train. It matters enough to her that she shuts off her movie (playing on the tv three feet from my bed) and she goes to bed at the same time. That? Is love. I don’t care what anyone says, that is support and love and hope and Life. All in one tidy package.

I did the same for her, when she was training. When she was putting in two hour workouts BEFORE wrestling practice, six days A WEEK. I would wash her singlet, her workout clothes, dry out her mat shoes, pack her bags, make her dinner, pack her shakes and bananas and Vitalyte and send her off, bruised and sore, to chase her dream.

She inspires me. Every day. More now, than ever before. It takes a hell of a lot more guts to sit on the sidelines, wounded and broken, and support someone else’s dream. I know. She knows.

This life, this love, this shared reality- IS my silver lining.

* * *

“My Silver Lining”

I don’t want to wait any more
I’m tired of looking for answers
Take me some place where there’s music and there’s laughter
I don’t know if I’m scared of dying- but I’m scared of living too fast, too slow
Regret, remorse, hold on, oh no I’ve got to go

There’s no starting over, no new beginnings, time races on
And you’ve just gotta keep on keeping on
Gotta keep on going, looking straight out on the road
Can’t worry ’bout what’s behind you or what’s coming for you further up the road

I try not to hold on to what is gone, I try to do right what is wrong
I try to keep on keeping on
Yeah I just keep on keeping on
I hear a voice calling
Calling out for me
These shackles I’ve made in an attempt to be free
Be it for reason, be it for love
I won’t take the easy road

I’ve woken up in a hotel room, my worries as big as the moon
Having no idea who or what or where I am
Something good comes with the bad
A song’s never just sad
There’s hope, there’s a silver lining

Show me my silver lining
Show me my silver lining

I hear a voice calling
Calling out for me
These shackles I’ve made in an attempt to be free
Be it for reason, be it for love
I won’t take the easy road

I won’t take the easy road
The easy road, the easy road
I won’t take the easy road
The easy road, the easy road

Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on
Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on
Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on
Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on

“My Silver Lining” – First Aid Kit