Over two weeks have passed since I returned from my shortened journey. My first week back was for lack of a better word, a mental hell. Emotions were many and high. My desire to be back in routine and the flow of life felt like taking a fish out of water and watching it flip flop on land. So much felt unfamiliar and wrong. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
I never saw this coming, the feel of failure and defeat and at the hands of myself, my body, my genetics. As the days passed I came out of the clouds and grounded myself. Routine became the norm and I conceded to the fact that I had work to do to understand and better myself physically, but that there was equally unfinished business north of here.
To many, my return was a welcome that shelved their worry and concern and celebrated my safety and well being. I know that group (hello mom!) would love me to park this adventure and seek other ways to create the same awareness and funds and perhaps that day may come, but I am nowhere near that today. There were many voices of reason who shared their love, concerns and well wishes with me in the following weeks after I returned. I was touched and left speechless when my close cousin Maria greeted me with a loonie. She mentioned she kept this loonie with her everyday and hoped to give it to me at some point. I didn’t initially understand the significance of it until she pointed out who was embossed on the loonies face. As I studied it closely I realized it was Terry Fox, a man who attempted to run a marathon a day until he got himself across the whole of Canada to raise funds for cancer research. Unfortunately, Terry’s cancer forced him to end his quest prematurely and ultimately cost him his life. I felt my eyes well up and realized that even with Terry’s efforts which were on a scale I cannot fathom, he too had not been able to finish what he started. But it didn’t matter, because it was never about the running. His legacy has become annual runs held in his name across the country that have to date raised over 600 million dollars.
Since my return consultations have been many. Between two chiropractors, a massage therapist, and physiotherapist plans are being made, physical health and limitations assessed and hopefully a resolve over the next year will be had.
In the meantime, some decisions were necessary. For both myself and what’s been invested physically and equally from a project stand point in terms of our next steps with the Canucks Autism Network and building our resource.
As previously mentioned, the resource creation has begun. We are well on our way to building this over the next several months and as much as we have more funds to raise, for the short term we are through our first steps with this.
From an adventure perspective, I have had to come to a couple of difficult realizations. Completing the circumnavigation will not happen this year. It would be truly foolish to put myself through even bigger seas and a lot more distance knowing what it took to go as far as I did. A revisit to the training, prep and logistics will be necessary before reconsidering a second attempt. And it may even include creating and building a 2+ person team to create an added level of safety. I say this purely because I have come to accept that should a physical limitation present itself again, having a teammate vs having to summon or call for assistance is a much better scenario and a lesser poor use of our great professional resources that are better focused on larger scale issues and incidents. To put myself out there again without a slice of redundancy built in would be selfish now that I’ve truly taxed and tested myself physically.
That said, I have also decided to consider returning to the waters of Johnstone Strait later this summer in late July. I will pick up where I stopped, in Sayward, and continue another 125km to Port Hardy to complete the Inside Passage in its entirety and put it and the Strait behind me. From that point forward lies Goletas Channel and the open sea. I have given this great thought and I am confident I will have a decent enough recovery to put my back through three more days of rowing. From an awareness perspective it allows me to reach out to the towns of Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill and Port Hardy. Equally for my own mettle and adventuring desires it gives me some form of closure on knowing I will have gotten the inside coast completed. All of this of course hinges on two things; the first being the marine forecast for the week I am planning to go. If conditions are going to be similar to what they were when I was forced to stop, gale force winds blowing from the northwest, then I will most likely give this a pass. Secondly, how I fare the week prior in the STP Cycling Race which will span 320km taking me and my two wheels from Seattle to Portland. I have no desire to hurt myself any further but I cannot simply pass on the opportunity to cover a little more distance.
I have invested a lot of time and finances since my return to better understand my body, my posture and all the elements that when exposed to repetitive, arduous motion are going to be stressed and strained. Knowing how to endure this, sustain my efforts and use my strength effectively and efficiently is what I hope to get out of the next several months. Working with Rob Williams of Exceed Athletic Performance http://www.exceedathletic.com this past week has brought new light into how to approach and understand my own physics. I look forward to continuing to better myself through his program and seeing where this takes me over the balance of the year.
Dealing with the mental effects of this trip and not being able to continue has been helped with following others who are very much on their own journeys to circumnavigate Vancouver Island as we speak. Celebrating in their success has felt right, it has felt good and this past week I was able to help out a fellow adventurer in her efforts to complete the task of getting herself 1,100km around the island. Tara Mulvany http://www.tarasjourneys.com is an adventurer who has traveled the world and engaged in many kayaking trips through serene waters and equally turbulent seas and rivers. A seasoned kayaker, she finds herself through the Broken Group Islands and near Bamfield as of this writing. I had contacted her through her website and offered her my food cache which was being held in Tofino. As it turned out, she was doing a pit stop there to fuel up and hitched herself into town and collected the bulk of my food. She was ecstatic at the offering and the contents and it truly brought a massive smile to my face to know that someone was doing what I was not able to, and in the process I was able to support her in some way, shape or form. Through email, we both learned that she was actually about two days behind me when I reached Sayward. I wish her well on her journey as she rounds the south of the island over the following days!
It still amazes me how the idea of this project to benefit the autism community has brought me to so many new places, people and experiences. I have a lot to be thankful for and I truly hope that the rowing aside, you continue to gain more knowledge and understanding of what autism is, equally what it isn’t and why it is so important to see that our resource project https://proceansports.wordpress.com/donate/ is fully funded and seen through to fruition.
Stay tuned for future posts…