Blindsided: Navigating Life’s Construction Zones

With one week until I take on “one of the most grueling road races in the world,”  I must admit, I entered this race blindly. My heart said “Yes!” before my body and brain weighed in. I wanted to honor my father on Father’s Day weekend. When I began training, I realized this mountain was a bit bigger than myself.  If I’d known the monstrosity, I can’t say I would have said yes.

I’m glad I was blindsided.  

There are things we take on willingly, but it’s often the challenges we never saw coming that have the greatest impact on our lives.

There’s a big “ROUGH ROAD” sign on a road under construction in my neighborhood. The signs makes me giggle every time. Too bad life doesn’t have such clear warning signage! But I imagine that’s by design.

People think I am brave. I am not. I’m scared. My legs feel weak. My race-prep logistics sit heavy in the pit of my stomach.

The night before the race, I must: eat at 6 p.m., to take my first dose of nighttime medication at 9 p.m.,  to take my second dose at 1 a.m., to finish my medicine by 5 a.m., to leave time for nausea, stomach aches and dizziness, to get up at 6 a.m., to put something in my stomach and drive to the race course with enough time to stretch, relax, take photos, to cross the start line at 9 a.m.

X-factors I can’t control: will I sleep “well enough” to keep my cataplexy at bay? Will the mountain’s vistas and altitude affect my cataplexy? Will thinking about my dad cause cataplexy? Will I stay hydrated and fueled enough without cramping or injury? Will the winter temperatures and wind towards the summit affect my muscles and core warmth?  

I much prefer to gloss over the details, but since this is a blog about “overcoming adversity,” I should probably mention my adversity sometimes. 

So yes, I’m scared. Luckily, I’ve felt scared, defeated, exhausted and alone enough times to know that it’s not the end of the road. It’s the beginning. So if you’re scared, congratulations! You are in an unmarked construction zone of life – building a brighter future!

“Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.”



  1. rebecca on June 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Good luck Julie! I wish you the best as you head into the final stretch leading up
    the mountain. Your dad would be so proud!

    • julie on June 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Thank you, Rebecca! Your support means so much to me. 🙂

  2. Gail Pean on June 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    “I get up, I fall down, but I get up again”. Great lyrics to a song. You are every day reinventing yourself and designing your road ahead. Congrats on taking on this challenge knowing only some of the obstacles and ready to discover new ones. Your flexibility and tenacity are amongst your best qualities.

    • julie on June 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you, Gail!! I will just keep getting up, reinventing and re-designing the road ahead. Thank you for sharing in my adventure.

  3. Christina on June 11, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Dear Julie,
    Wearing that irrepressible grin, your father would cheer with you to the end of your run. He would burst with pride over the fact that during these months of grief you’ve set Mount Washington as your goal, in an effort to BEND the illness and your loss, into a triumph of will. You’ve mounted a campaign to train for the event. He KNOWS that completion of the goal may not be possible but NOT because of a “failure” on your part.

    Along with self-doubt, you speak of exhaustion. I discovered eminently sensible words written to your father in 2007 when he noted frustration over his body “betraying” him so he couldn’t work out the way he had in the past:
    “Dear Tom, It’s FRIDAY [ 2/2/07, 1:24 pm], of course you’re going to feel tired (therefore “old”). Cut yourself some slack. Leave the office. Walk to the library. Get a book about something that you’d find fun to do. Plan….”

    So, my dear, to echo that sage woman-author of those words: Cut yourself some slack. You contradict those who call you brave, claiming that your fear prevents such an adjective from being applicable to your circumstances. On the contrary, you ARE brave. You persist despite fear. Your example shows us courage.

    Lurking at the back of your mind is the realization that external factors may stymie your goal. Just remember, being prudent- being the “reasonably prudent person”- governs. The ability to recognize it and not let ego reign uncontrollably may be the ultimate bravery. Your father would tell you so, too; I am nearly certain of that. With abiding admiration and deep affection,
    Christina, Retired Attorney at Law

  4. Christina on June 11, 2012 at 2:39 am

    ps. Contrary to what the internet system noted, I wrote the above at 10:37 p.m. DST on Sunday, June 10, 11 days from the Summer Solstice. On that note, I shall close the laptop!

    • julie on June 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Thank you so much, Christina. Your support and wise words are much appreciated!! You are so right: “In an effort to BEND the illness and your loss, into a triumph of will.” Sending smiles and gratitude from DC, Julie

  5. JJM on June 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Bravery is only possible in the face of fear. Not letting the fear stop you is what being brave is all about.

    Best of luck!

    • julie on June 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      Thank you, JJM! I don’t always feel brave, but I suppose moving on despite feelng scared… is bravery. I used to think bravery meant you had no fear. Great point! 🙂

  6. Debbie on June 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Best of Luck, Julie! Remember – if you can’t run – it is ok to walk 🙂 I will pray for perfect weather (not to cold and not to hot)! I can’t wait to read of your experience up the Mount Washington! Have a great week!

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