The end of a year is here and, I’ll admit, this one went fast. December 31st marks the end of my ambassador project “1,000 Miles of Adventure”. I looked back at the “why” for this adventure and realized it changed in the rush of the year: life + the project + my brain = shifted focus. Time passed and I wasn’t reaching planned mileage goals through the year (ha!). Instead, I latched onto that number goal, and quantity began to trump quality.
The original reason for the adventure was this: “The goal is about rediscovering that depth of self and what it looks like with new responsibilities and priorities (being a mom) – how to overcome the typical ‘mom guilt’…”. Honestly, I thought this would be an easy achievement with some planning.
Spoiler: I did not reach 1,000. Instead I’m sitting at 851 miles. I love to reach goals, tangible and measurable. It’s the satisfaction of checking items off a list. Over a month ago, I had five bike rides planned to reach that thousand. Those didn’t happen. The shift came when I realized I would just pedal familiar places to slay 150 miles, not for enjoyment. Doable? Yes. Was that the true goal? Big no.
Do I feel disappointed or like I failed? Not really, no. My mindset changed over this year. The variety of the adventures, time with family, and greater drive were worth each mile gained and not. I found that “the village” was essential. My fiancé and son (Matt and Eric), grandparents, friends, even a couple of babysitters gave time and support. Many miles were solo, but the family adventures were priceless.
I have a different respect for gear. Variety was the key for me and having gear that was multi-use and could overlap sports worked well. I learned how to diversify the gear that I have, then borrow, rent, or inexpensively find items needed to fill gaps. Creativity was also a big element during the year. Finding new trails, or maybe old trails in new ways, pushing gear to see what it could really handle, creative parenting and time management, all fueled the desire to keep going. That desire was a moving target, especially when adaptability became a theme.
During the 1,000 Miles of Adventure, I realized that 2018 looked nothing like 2017. Personal time (aka solo adventuring) was unique in how it refreshed. Motivation had less to do with the number of miles and more to do with what that day’s activity was or where it was going to happen. I learned new ways to train without feeling like all my free time was spent working out. I learned that I was rushing just to collect distance, rather than enjoying the places and moments.
I discovered that what I call “self-care” was merely surface-level and that I want to uncover better ways to be gentle with myself. Getting to know how that little voice inside talks to the rest of me when she’s under emotional pressure, physical stress, and harsh conditions was life-changing and after wrangling her, we decided to make friends. That only took about 700 miles.
What I really want to share with you, though, are the highlights. This epic adventure was contained within another one surrounding my family. We had a lifestyle change this year by starting road-schooling and planned to live in an RV for half the year. This plan was delayed drastically when the truck developed … issues. Once the truck was fixed and we were finally on the road, having a scheduled plan for the journey just wasn’t working … time to roll with it. We road-tripped 20,000 miles along with two dogs and a very old cat, visited eight breweries, and saw 22 states … plus the Conch Republic (wink).
I fell in love with mountain biking again, after I hadn’t touched it in 15 years. Kayaking near dolphins and circumnavigating Gasparilla Island, Florida, was an interesting (but fun) lesson in coastal tides and currents. Taking my sister on her first SUP day trip in Missouri with my family was something we all needed after a long winter. Kayaking on the Buffalo River in Arkansas reenergized my desire to paddle the whole thing in the future. Towing Eric in the Weehoo trailer on bike rides inspired me to find the little “whoopee” hills, just to hear him belly laugh.
We sailed an antique boat to her new home for a full-on holy-shit-we-have-a-sailboat moment. We fell in love with the McKenzie River Valley in Oregon through SUPing and mountain biking with family. Running up sand dunes in Oregon just to see the untouched texture at the top sticks with me. Eric absolutely crushed the hike up Wall Street in Bryce Canyon, blowing me away. Gravel biking Johnson Canyon Road from our campground in between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park was brutal … until unexpectedly crossing into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I recorded the fastest speed I’d ever done on a bike (36 mph) between Canyonlands National Park and Moab, hooting my way down the switchbacking pass for the joy of it. Conversely, I submitted to a sufferfest-by-bike on the Katy Trail across Missouri, just to see how far I could push distance and my body over three days, peeling back another layer of self-discovery. I’m happy to report that I can feel my butt bones once again.
To say that the 1,000 Miles of Adventure wasn’t reached doesn’t feel true when I look back at the year. There was simply so much more to the experience and living that challenge. Some days were bliss, others really sucked, yet all of them made the experience whole. I also felt inspired by the other moms and parents we met on the trails.
What did this adventure constantly reminded me of, though? Being a frickin’ mom. Many of us don’t really know what we’re doing when that adventure begins. Each day brings challenges or joys that we never expected, but we charge ahead. We learn about ourselves, our relationships, kids, life, and being human in ways we wouldn’t have imagined before. We quietly learn to take deeper breaths, to plan thoroughly, to study what we don’t know, or to be comfortable winging it.
A thousand miles isn’t required to have an amazing adventure – it especially doesn’t guarantee one. An adventure starts with a choice and a vision, no matter how big or small it seems. And, mamas, you have a clan of other moms cheering for you, including this one. See you out there in 2019!
See an interview with Cristen about the 1,000 Miles of Adventure here. To follow Cristen and her family’s story, check them out on YouTube.
2 thoughts on “1,000 Miles of Adventure Finale”
Beautifully written, beautiful photos, beautiful spirit! Thank you for sharing and inspiring!
Oh Cristen, I love this. It is all so true – the success of the vision because you really had so many more than a 1000 miles of adventure; you had the love, the challenges, the family time, and the calamities. It is a perfect reflection on celebrating the badass and the incredible things you did this year. Well done!