Today marks one decade since I started the Susitna 100 — my first-ever race — on February 18, 2006. As I gear up to return to Alaska next week, I thought it would be fun to mark this tenth anniversary with a timeline of my endeavors on the Iditarod Trail.
I'd managed to re-boost my energy with some random items I'd purchased at the Shaktoolik village store after two dozen Iditarod mushers cleaned it out during the storm that had everyone hunkering down. As it was, I'd left Unalakleet with four days of food to travel, by bike, 100 miles to Koyuk. It wasn't nearly enough. I thought I'd erred strongly on the side of too much. But I had no real perspective of just how hard one mile can be, or how long it can take, even after ten years of this.
I learned a lot on my coast trip, and the main gist of that lesson is Alaska is very big, and I am very small and very, very weak — which is really the same lesson I've been re-learning since 2006. The difference is, before I always felt some empowerment by my ability to mentally muscle my way through problems and overcome obstacles, but my recent breathing difficulties have added a new, much deeper layer of uncertainty. Still, I feel better equipped to head out there and make better decisions, even if they're not the preferred decisions. Any day on the Iditarod Trail is a gift, because many of the days I've had out there are among the best of my life.