The night before any big event has the potential to evoke a grab bag of emotions. I’m feeling oddly calm and steady. It is AT-hike-eve and bags are almost fully packed, the GPS tracker will probably work, our camelbacks are filled with nice purified water, our first soylent smoothies are made and we are cooking our last fresh meal for a while with family and friends.
This steady feeling tonight is familiar to me. I have planned and planned, and now it is just time to stop thinking and do. This feeling is that of the night before a race. My clothes are laid out and ready, gear has been unpacked and packed and double checked. I’ve spoken to each of my very supportive family members as they send us well wishes for our send off, nutrition is thought through and through. I do have some butterflies, a healthy amount of anticipation, but a calmness and security in knowing I have confidence in all our planning.
With any event that feels daunting or like I bit off more than I can chew, it is critical to chunk it into manageable bits. For marathons, I chunk the race into a warm up, 5 mile chunks and a close. For bike races I usually have smaller responsibilities in the race to focus on, maybe I’m the attacker early on, or I need to sit in and save my legs for the final sprint. Competitive athletics are all about managing a challenging task in smaller pieces. I tell elementary students to chunk their math problems into smaller easy steps, or their reading passages into paragraphs. Tomorrow, and for the next 5-6 months, I will chunk our hike into 100 mile bits, or 5-7 days.
If I focus on just tomorrow, and just this next week, it will allow me to be more present and not overthink. I honed this skill in running workouts. I would think of executing just that lap at pace, and not worry about the fact that I had 5 more laps after that one and I might blow up. It allowed me to be focused on the present moment, a practice of mindfulness by honoring that moment and that lap for what it was. I usually never think about the finish line or being done with a workout until it is palatable and visible.
I am using this same mentality as I prepare for tomorrow. No big feelings one way or another, just keeping calm and steady with a sense of focus on the present moment, and tomorrow will just be one step at a time, with one foot in front of the other.
We start with an enormous climb with the heaviest our packs will probably be and in the worst shape we will probably be in, but I think there is no better way to start out than with a focus on the present moment and not much beyond. Yes, I’m excited, but not too much. Keeping strong manic emotions at bay allows for focus and mindfulness to enter. Ready, yes. Calm, yes. Focused, yes. Showered, clean, and fully fed, yes yes yes! See you tomorrow AT! ❤️