Dougal Allan Blog: Finish Lines
Coast to Coast Blog Series 2020
I have been fortunate to cross some life-changing finish lines over the years. Winning my first Challenge Wanaka title in 2016, then going back and breaking the record to defend the title in 2017 were unforgettable moments. Winning my first Coast to Coast title last year after 3x runner-up placings was equally special too. But hugging my wife and children is what I picture when I reflect on these finish line experiences. There seems to be an important message in that.
It is easy to fall into a false sense of expectation that the finish line is final. That it somehow marks the end point of a journey. The reality is life is one journey and there is no finish line (other than one, but we won’t go there right now). It can feel like the next race, the dream job offer, the university graduation, the weight loss goal or the final mortgage payment are the finish line and we can close that chapter and move on. But there is always going to be another sense of purpose that prompts us to continue to forge ahead in this journey we call life.
As I near the final block of my training build for the Coast to Coast on February 8th and close in on my taper, I have spent many hundreds of hours visualising the finish line at New Brighton. I want so badly to arrive there first, but just to arrive there will be meaningful in its own right, given I will once again get to hug my wife and children and celebrate another summer of adventures, laughter, challenges, stresses and everything else we experience as a family that makes us no different to any other.
Right now the race is all I can think about. As if New Brighton beach will be a finish line that allows me to move on and become somebody else. What experience has taught me is that while it may feel this way, the sun will rise on the morning of February the 9th despite the result of the day before and I will still be the same person I always have been. I will still be lucky enough to have spent another summer biking, kayaking, running and enjoying the privilege of a happy and healthy body. I won’t regret the times I put work and training aside to spend time with my family, watching them find their own adventures in the outdoor playground of Lake Hawea that we are lucky to call home. When I came to understand that there really is no such thing as a finish line, I felt like I could focus my energies towards the things that matter. Spending time in the outdoors is important, whether it is for long hours alone in training or sharing it with family and friends. Nature teaches us something every time we allow it to speak. I will never take this for granted.
My friends at Bivouac Outdoor like to promote the concept of being “Committed to Adventure”. To me this nails everything I believe about the world we live in. It is about prioritising the way we structure the journey. If we can commit ourselves to a life of adventure (however you define it) and do so with both integrity and a consistent attachment to our values, we are living a good life. Finish lines come and go, but the essence of how we are living should always remain the same.
In my blog next week I will talk about how I balance my coaching and family life with training as a full time athlete. The week after I will come clean with details on my training and preparation for this year’s Coast to Coast in just over three weeks time.
(Photo credits: Korupt Vision)