It’s no secret (at least to me) that I have obsessive tendencies. Once I get something in my head, I think about it, research it, meditate on it until everyone around me rolls their eyes and mouths the words I’m about to repeat for the millionth time — whether it’s the benefits of minimalist running footwear, the magical powers of quinoa and maca, the radical new perspective of the action-proof GoPro cameras, or the value of spending lots of quality time with my son in his early years. Even the idea of this blog has suddenly taken up some prime mental real estate at the expense of some other fixations. No doubt, these regular obsessions make me marginally informed, if not opinionated and mildly annoying.
The lust for travel, of course, has always been a key motivator for me. It fits perfectly with my love of writing and photography, whether it’s working with Street Kids International in Bolivia or travelling to Gambia, West Africa, to write about literacy. But since the miraculous arrival of my son, Sevan, nearly 2 years ago, I’ve had to curtail these voyages of discovery. Still, the lust to explore dies hard, and I still sometimes long to be beholden only to the pack on my back and the camera around my neck. But to honour my family and not push the roof off my debt ceiling, I’ve whittled months-long trips down to a few weeks, and sometimes a few days – at least for now.
In fact, I took a job at an office to make sure the rent always got paid. As if to counter a hyper sedentary workplace, I recently became obsessed with Whistler’s Meet Your Maker (MYM), a 50 mile (80k) cross-country foot race, covering something like 12,000 feet of climbs and descents in British Columbia. When I saw a photograph of a guy running up the side of a mountain, a snow-covered peak towering beyond, my palms started to sweat with anticipation. I’ve never run more than 21k, but I became unnaturally fixated on the idea of doing this thing. Of course, there is an escapist aspect to the caper – being off on my own, doing something that I necessarily have to accomplish solo. But there’s also something about becoming a dad – the mental and physical stress that comes with those first 12 sleep-deprived months – that have primed me for something that is clearly going to take me well out of my comfort zone.
The MYM magically compresses time, creating a massive adventure in a single day. After hedging, I finally sputtered out to my partner, Lara, that I really really really wanted to do the race. She agreed right away — because she loves me — but her nod also conveyed something approaching, just-go-so-I-don’t-have-listen-to-you-talk-about-it-ad nauseum. So I’m set to fly west at the end of August 2013 to face what I can only imagine will be a very challenging experience.
But before then, I suspect a lot of good stuff is going to be harvested, lessons on finding a deeper source of energy through mindfulness practices, figuring out what foods best fuel a body under stress – or any body, for that matter; what running techniques will improve the bio-mechanical efficiency of my 44 year old body so that I can cover 50 miles – injury free and, hopefully, enjoy the experience along the way; how to balance family life with those long days of training; how to prepare for the mountains when living in a city as flat as the earth conceived by the ancient Greeks. All these things will find their way into these posts. Plus, there are still diapers to change, parental pitfalls to jump, a bi-cultural home to navigate, an office job not to get fired from, and new creative projects to embark on.
You can get regular updates via my twitter feed @RobertBrodey