By Danielle Snyder
Definition (v). Not succeeding, not reaching your goal.
Definition (v): Ugly, disappointing.
Definition (v): Loser
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every emotion, thought, word had a neat look box we could put it into that made it easy to manage and process? And yet, the world is full of these dichotomies of holding two different emotions.
Last month I publicly attempted to take the Women’s Supported Fastest Known Time on the Kokopelli Trail which starts in Loma, CO and ends in Moab. I sought out Kali Able (glaciologist at the University of Portland, writer, and trail runner) and pitched my idea to connect the love of running with a desire to act against climate change and to empower women. The money raised was to elevate women’s role in the fight against climate change.
I set out on October 16th and ran the best 90 miles of my life and then failed spectacularly. The last 50 or so miles were a complete suffer-fest which included the desire and making some concrete plans to quit. The desire to quit was not just due to the pain but due to the embarrassment of my time not being even close to the previous FKT holder's (Stephaine Ehret) time. Somewhat selfishly, I couldn’t help but think what this means about my running career and how I follow a frivolous dream to be a ‘serious’ runner.
Somehow over the course of the last 50 miles, I was able to recreate a narrative and remind myself of the beauty of failures. Honoring the dichotomy of failure does not erase the embarrassment of not achieving a goal, however, what we tell ourselves is so extremely powerful. As children, we are often taught about failure being a horrible thing. Winners get the praise, accolades, losers are just that—losers.
As an adult, this narrative infuriates me, as failures have such powerful lessons. We don’t need to comfort those who don’t obtain their goal, we can honor the attempt. Failure doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable word, it can be stoke and growth.
Definition (v). Opportunity, growth, authenticity, reality.
Definition (v).- An amazing and beautiful, enlightening experience
Definition (v). – Connected to your ability to push your comfort zone.
As we head towards the end of the election season and the cold, dreary months of winter; I can’t help but parallel the adventure to this season of life. As we approach the likely challenging times ahead, I envision myself on the Kokopelli, head down, working my way to the next portion of the trail. When life becomes exponentially tougher, our options can become narrowed to two: stop or move forward. Moving forward doesn’t have to be beautiful, it can be intertwined with failure, sadness, loss and more. However, the option to stop fighting and give up seems even more bleak. Often the biggest changes come from smallest steps. So when it is dark for 13 hours and all seems lost, try to take it one step at time and eventually the light will return.
Danielle is a licensed social worker, owns a coaching service called Inner Drive Athlete where she focuses on the power of the mind and is an avid ultrarunner.