WILD: Recommended Adventure Reading + Pre-Grad School Pep Talk

This blog has been almost entirely dedicated to race reports and travelogues up to this point. I’ve shared stories from the road from both the vantage point of my Mizunos and behind the bun of the big dog. As I begin my next life transition, to grad school, this blog is going to transition along with me.

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For those readers who are friends, family, or connected with me on Facebook you probably know that I am going to me starting my MBA at the University of Wisconsin A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research in the fall. This was a last-minute divergent from my initial plan, but one that will offer two years of incredible education, networking opportunities, and experience. With all that it delivers, this graduate program is going to demand quite a bit.

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As one of the (substantially) younger members, if not youngest, of my program and one of only four girls in a 12 person cohort, I know that I have a lot of work ahead of me to prove myself. I don’t have extensive office experience and I don’t have a business degree. My work will be cut out for me. Class hasn’t even started yet, but over the summer I am tasked with Excel formulas to understand and memorize, and accounting theories to brush up on. Faced with the competition and the curriculum, I have honestly felt a bit out of my league thinking about the coming semesters.

Anxious and intimidated as I am, I have been reading an excellent book that has been a well of confidence. Wild by Cheryl Strayed is a best seller memoir about her solo trip hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in her 20’s. This trail goes from Mexico to Canada, through mountains and deserts, and she spent many days without seeing a single other individual. I haven’t finished the book quite yet, but it has been a compelling read, both inspiring and motivating.

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In the book she talks about fear – of the trail, of the wilderness, and of failure. She writes,

“It was a deal I’d made with myself months before and the only thing that allowed me to hike alone. I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decide I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked. Every time I heard a sound of unknown origin or felt something horrible cohering in my imagination, I pushed it away. I simply did not let myself become afraid. Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.”

This paragraph struck a chord with me, about mental outlook. Choosing to take control, to have self confidence, and to trust in the preparation (or in the case lack-thereof, the determination) and continue. I am trepidatious about grad school, about hacking it in the big leagues, and excelling. BUT – I’m going to try my damnedest, and that is honestly the best I can offer.

The same attitude of “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” is applicable to running. How often are we at the start line, questioning our preparation, our shoes, or our fuel? When the gun goes off though, we gotta go!

I highly recommend this book if you want to be inspired to continue reaching toward the next goal and toward self discovery.

Do you have any recommended books to read that are also inspiring adventure memoirs?

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9 thoughts on “WILD: Recommended Adventure Reading + Pre-Grad School Pep Talk

      • Hmmm.. I actually didn’t do any races in Madison! Craziness…but I was in a job that traveled heavily so it seemed like I always had conflicts! I love the trail series right along the lake and through the university… it seriously goes FOREVER and it’s an awesome place to get a run (or bike in). You won’t be short of trails in Madison, that’s one of my favorite things. Also my two favorite summer things: the farmer’s market Saturday mornings around the square (amazing) and concerts on the square – Wednesday evening music concerts… so much fun. Enjoy!!! :)

      • Haha! I went to the farmers market on the square this Saturday and went to have drinks with a friend yesterday and ran right into the concert on the square, which was amazing! I am absolutely in love with Madison’s culture!

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