What Is My Breaking Point?

Remember when Jerry Seinfeld was giving advice on how George should break up with Marlene? Jerry wisely exclaimed “You should just do it like a Band-Aid: one motion-RIGHT OFF!”
Beginning the ascent of the 1.5 mile “Boulder Field”
So goes my theory on exercise. I do it as quickly as possible. A 20 minute workout in my garage or a CrossFit class that puts you through the ringer in under an hour. I feel great afterwards, just like Jerry said. Done.
But then there is the Megatransect. Twenty nine miles of loose, rugged single-track trails in the Central Pennsylvania highlands. This trek is a grueling ultra marathon that keeps calling me back year after year.
The sign up for the race is on New Year’s Day. The resolutions of fitness and the promise of change are flooding all of us. My husband and I sign up and smile, proud of ourselves for committing to it again.
Fast forward 9 months. Countless 20 minute workouts are logged but the most running I’ve done in one training session is 6 miles. Not. Enough.
At 7 am on the cold and rainy October morning, my husband and I cross the start line in the middle of the pack. Defining the first part of the course is the Boulder Field; one and half miles at a 70 degree incline requiring all limbs to navigate.  We ascend through the clouds and fog into blue crisp sky at the top. We are in it for the long haul and take a deep breath to continue our journey.
At the top of the “Boulder Field” after climbing through the clouds
By mile 15 I yearn for the strenuous ascents because my knees have cramped so badly that any downhill angle has me wincing in pain. I ask my husband if he remembered to pack the ibuprofen and I down 1200mg. I’ll ask my pharmacist about that later. At mile 28 someone yells “Good job! Keep going you are almost there!”. We pick up the pace a little bit but I can’t breathe well through the tightness in my chest. I feel like bursting into tears.
The first year I did this in 2009 I crossed at 12 hours 15 minutes. This year my husband and I finished 29 miles in 8 hours and 37 minutes. Almost 4 hours better than my rookie year.
Trent, Kenny, and Everett ready to bat
We anonymously cross the finish line amidst a few weak cheers. But the truth is, someone else’s approval means nothing to us. Our own strength, our reliance on each other, and the ability to muddle through this terrain is all we need to feel fulfilled. Intrinsic satisfaction. Autonomous drive. Our own personal stamp of approval. We don’t even post our times to Facebook. But I’m damn proud of team Sechler.
Kenny, Everett, and Trent
I keep the pain and determination I feel during this race with me throughout the year. It helps me in every little corner of my life. As a “mostly” stay at home mother of 3 I feel like I am being pulled in 20 different directions. At times this “race” is monotonous, but losing concentration can make all the difference.  Each decision in parenting takes a deep breath and a quick glance up the mountain at the long term goal. A look at my husband and a first small step. We trudge, we run, we laugh, we cry. We hug and forgive. We are strong together as a family and nobody is going to give us a medal or applaud our efforts. I like it that way.

Connect with Anne Sechler 

Right now I am passionate about:
1. Painting our master bedroom
2. Cramming as much holiday tradition in before Christmas
3. Teaching Pre-K Sunday school
For more information about me, click here

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