I know where I ‘m going: a 1945 Powell and Pressburger film is probably my favourite movie. I love the characters, the setting, the atmosphere and the sheer whimsy.
The wonderful Wendy Hiller plays, Joan, a young, ambitious, independently spirited woman who is confident that she knows where she is going. She has mapped out her life and sets out to pursue that path with single-minded almost reckless determination. That is, until she finds herself in less certain territory; her plans in disarray. As she attempts to get back on track, she sees there are other routes and begins to question her choices. Another path emerges for her, one that is true to her heart.
I know where I am going: there is always a plan and a direction of travel. Like Joan, there have been times when I have taken the wrong path, followed it with misguided conviction only to come to a sudden stop. The abandoned Global Odyssey mark 1 an obvious example. As upsetting and frustrating as it was to have it abruptly halted in its tracks, I realised it was not my path. It was not true to me; not true to my heart. I plotted a different, happier course that was the Global Odyssey 100, which I traversed successfully albeit with a few obstacles and diversions.
But I have an admission to make: for some eight months I have not known where I am going. The lack of blog entries and the time it has taken to write this entry testament to that. I have been at a crossroads turning this way and that, unable to sense or determine which path to take and why. How did I get here?
Last summer after the dust settled on the Global Odyssey 100 I had felt some pressure to be able to answer the inevitable question;
‘So, what’s your next big adventure?’
The pressure to maintain momentum with new adventures in the pipeline. There was added pressure with a big birthday looming in 2023. I ran my first marathon at 40 and began adventure racing with a marathon and an ultra in Antarctica at 50.
Quickly, I was pouring over the map of ‘what next’ confidently plotting paths over old and new territory. I knew what I wanted and where I was going.
The birthday year became a curious mix of a couple of pilgrimages to slay dragons and a ‘fun’ birthday odyssey.
The first dragon: North America. Greenland had left some lingering baggage and a sense that whilst I completed the 100k the school report would be ‘could do better’. I would run a 100k in Canada.
The second dragon: desert running. I have had both success and failure in deserts and it always irked me that I had failed my 100k in Namibia. I would go back to Namibia and run a full crossing of the Namib.
And finally, the 60 Odyssey (working title). A ‘fun’ series of ultra runs on lines of longitude related to my date of birth and age.
Obvious really, or so I thought as I took my first step in this tortuous path.
That was, until the path in front of me collapsed: a torn meniscus. That was going to take more than a minor diversion! Suddenly I was in uncharted territory and going nowhere any time soon. Like the storm bound Joan, I got caught in a maelstrom of upset and frustration whilst waiting for the storm to calm.
Alasdair, always a source of wise council, challenged me with a series of questions;
Why did I feel the need to re-visit old ground?
Why were my plans so contrived (particularly the birthday odyssey idea)?
Why not, for once, take an easier path and simply enjoy the thing I love.
‘You have nothing to prove’.
Taking the easy route is not in my nature but perhaps he had a point. It was possible that the decision would be made by my body. Nevertheless, time for some soul searching. Why had I set these goals? Was my heart truly in them? What would they achieve?
Meanwhile, after six months and no surgery required, I got some sense of where I was going and took my first tentative steps on the road to recovery. A road that has had to be navigated with caution and patience. The recovery process has influenced my thinking. I was and am acutely aware that I had a near miss and have been profoundly lucky. Something I do not take lightly.
At last, I know where I am going.
A 100k in Canada? Why? Massaging my bruised ego was not a good enough ‘why’ and my heart knew this. My head knew it too. My body needs longer to maintain a steady recovery and build-up. The risk of a set-back was just too high.
100k out, 60k in and the inaugural Diamond Odyssey adventure. See what I did there?
Next. Why do I want run across the Namib? I know I can run in the desert heat. There are plenty of desert events out there, so why replicate. That is not my path.
A couple of conversations with guides opened up a myriad of alternatives to create a more unique, different and exciting challenge showcasing more of Namibia’s beauty. My heart is singing, and I feel that excitement that comes from exploring pastures new.
Namib desert crossing out, Diamond Odyssey Namibian Adventure in (with one day covering 60k, perhaps).
And almost without thinking a route through the birthday year is forming. My Diamond Odyssey. New adventures large and small. Adventures that come from the heart.
Ultra runs on lines of longitude. Who was I kidding. Life is way too short especially when you are turning sixty. Further escapades and explorations will be added to the Diamond Odyssey. Watch this space.
I have followed my heart and I KNOW WHERE I AM GOING.