In two weeks I will once again stand at the starting line of the Cruel Jewel. This 108-mile ultra that occurs deep within the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest of Georgia was the most difficult race I had faced last May. In addition to the extra 8 miles the race director added from the normal “Century” run and 33,000 feet of climbing, I somehow got lost and added on another half-dozen miles for fun. Based on these obvious challenges, it was no surprise that it took me over 34 hours to finish.
Why on earth would I do it again? That would be a fair question. However, as I wrote in my race report last year, I learned more about myself and what my body and mind were capable of here more than during any other event. Based on this and a nagging desire to know what I was capable of if I had stayed on course, drove me to sign up once again. Another reason I decided to tackle this course was the hopes that it may help prepare me for my next adventure in August, Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc. UTMB is a race that traverses 3 countries around Mount Blanc in Europe and is even more brutal, given its longer climbs and higher altitude.
(see amazing views from the course in the video below)
NEVER SETTLE –NEW COMPANY
I want to be challenged in all areas of my life. I believe we often learn more when we face adversity and take on difficult responsibilities than when we can coast on cruise control. This is true in other areas of my life and resulted in my recent decision to leave the company I had worked at for the last 12 years collectively. It is a great company with wonderful friends but where I was no longer being challenged. Some may find comfort in the security of a big company but I know I have so much more to offer and knew that it was time to make another professional change. Less than 2 weeks before running the same race, I will start my new job. Much like at the start of the race, I know there are many factors that are within my control. However, there are many which are not that I must adjust to in order to succeed and thrive. I am excited for this next adventure and look forward with anticipation of what may lie ahead.
FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT – CHURCH
A year ago I also made a very difficult decision to leave the church where I had come to better know Jesus as my Lord, my Savior, and my friend. I served as an Elder and was deeply involved. I felt comfortable there with many good friends, a beautiful building, and wonderful music. These were all reasons that made it difficult to leave but I knew in my heart they were also not reasons to stay.
Unlike running or working, I have come to understand that my faith is the foundation for every other aspect of my life. Given the commitment to my faith and desire to be in an environment that would challenge me and help me to grow in a manner consistent with the teachings from scripture, I made this difficult decision. I have no doubt a year later that it was the right one. I still miss many things about my old place of worship but I am blessed in my new church home to be inspired each week in worship with wonderful and consistent teaching.
I have heard it said that the right decision is often the most difficult one. This has been true for me in many areas of my life, and as a result, I will continue to pray that each decision I make on the race course or in life is the right one. Even when things do not go according to plan, I must continue to put one step in front of the other and press on toward the goal to do what is right for my faith and family.
It means a great deal that you have taken the time to read this. I have not been writing as much as I’d like and I am unsure how much I will be able to in the future given the new job. However, I look forward to continuing to share my race reports and other lessons that I have found helpful.