Boy, have I got a motivational story for you. A few weeks ago, I gave Rachel, of my best friends in Santa Monica, a call to catch up. Instead of getting a weekly update, Rachel says, “You’re never going to believe what happened today.” Rachel had set out to hike Paseo Miramar, a beautiful Pacific Palisades hike that’s part of Topanga Canyon Park. Rachel had conquered this hike at least 15 times before. One wrong turn quickly changed this hike from an hour of exercise into what The willPower Method® calls a moment of “What if I had to?” Yes, a moment (or rather hours) of willPower. I told Rachel she had to blog about it (but the girl works more than anyone I know) so I decided to do it for her, especially since today is Motivational Monday. She did agree to answer a few questions. So here’s to real life willPower and how her usual one hour, 5.5 mile hike turned into and 18 mile, 4.5 hour adventure.
So Rachel, had you done this hike/run before? What happened this time around?
I’ve done the Paseo Miramar trail at least 15 times. I know my route very well, so I thought. It usually takes me about an hour. I’ve never paid attention to trail heads, turns and outlets…I just keep running and this time I kept going and going in the wrong direction.
When did you know you were going the wrong way? What was your initial reaction?
I am an avid trail runner. I try to hike most days of the week. On this day I was working on improving the length of my stride so I can pick up my pace. I had awesome music keeping my speed strong. About 3 miles down the mountain I started to look around me. Beautiful view as always but I kept thinking to myself that this was not looking like my normal route down. I didn’t think there was any way I took a wrong turn. Plus, I thought I was crazy for not recognizing the trail that I’d run so many times before.
I kept running downhill, working on my speed and enjoying my music. It didn’t take much longer to realize that I was not on the right trail. I hadn’t seen anyone for two hours, and I knew for sure it should not take me two hours to get down. I was lost. There were no signs. I didn’t know where I had made a wrong turn, and I hadn’t brought any water with me nor had I eaten any breakfast (not the brightest move on a 85 degrees day at noon). Contemplations were racing through my head. If I keep running downhill how far am I from the bottom and where am I going to let out? Does this trail ever lead out? I haven’t seen signs in a while, so am I still on paved trail? How long am I going to be out here? It’s hot, I’m really thirsty, and its been at least four hours since I started my run, so how long can I go without water? Do I have a better chance of passing someone with water if I head down or back up? I had two options: 1) Sit down, panic, cry, and rest or 2) Keep my head up, stay positive, figure a way out. I decided I had no choice – I was going to get out. I needed water and had to get out of this canyon at some point.
What was going through your head on the way back? What gave you the willPower to push through?
I turned around and headed back trying to retrace the route came down. I wasn’t sure where I was going to pop out to and if I would find the trail I was supposed to be on. All I knew was I had to keep running and I’d eventually get somewhere. I had no idea if that somewhere would be where I was supposed to be or somewhere else, but I had to just get out of the canyon and back to seeing the ocean. I knew once I saw the ocean again I would have to try to keep it to my right and go downhill. I kept telling myself to stay calm, stay strong and I would make it out. I just kept telling myself that I was on an adventure and this is a life lesson. I knew I was at least physically strong enough to keep walking till the sun went down if I had to. I tried walking to pace myself and my right calf started cramping up, then my left, then both, so I ran and powered through!
What was the reaction of people who passed by you on the trail?
“I started out running with my best friend Mike. He pushes my pace. We run to the top together and he sprints down. He’s a lot faster than me. He says its cause my legs are shorter, He’s sweet, I’m just slow, hence why I was working on lengthening my stride. After I realized I was lost and I decided to stay calm and keep running I thought about Mike. I knew he would be worried about me. I knew he wouldn’t leave me, I felt bad that I made him worry. I didn’t know when I’d make it back to him. My best friend is always by my side. I wished he’d been next to me and we’d been lost together (would have made it a better adventure). I hadn’t seen anyone for almost three hours when I was lost. I get energy from “high-fiving” people around me and motivating others to keep going. I was alone. After I finally found my way back to the trail I was supposed to be on I started seeing people. It was such a relief to know where I was. I then knew I was an hour away from getting back to Mike, and I wasn’t going to have to sleep in the canyon (I’ve never camped before, theres a first for everything and that first will thankfully have to wait). I felt a big grin stuck to my face, I was proud of myself! I took off my headphones, thanked God for my physical and mental strength and ran home. As I got towards the bottom,people were stopping me and asking “Are you Rachel? Your friend has been running this trail up and down looking for you. He’s really worried.” I knew he was.
Looking back what are you most proud of? If this were to happen to someone else, do you have any advice for them?
I am most proud of myself for staying calm and positive and just looking at the situation as an adventure. When you’re lost on a common path you follow in life you can’t give up, you can’t turn away from a challenge you have to run to it! Turn stress into success. Push yourself uphill and enjoy the uphill climb.