The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience

ዲ The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience textThe Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience ፖ Book By Jennifer Pharr Davis ፰ ዲ The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience textThe Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience ፖ Book By Jennifer Pharr Davis ፰ Chapter One A Wild River Man If you can t beat them, you don t have to join them Warren Doyle I stooped over a thin stream seeping past clumps of dead leaves and earth as thick as coffee grounds My hands were grasping my shins and my eyes were filled with tears I looked up and found myself directly in his shadow His full beard and round belly absorbed the rare rays of light that penetrated the canopy above us His presence was unmovable, overbearing yet completely mute Why doesn t he say anything I thought Why won t he try to motivate me or at least place his hand on my shoulder to comfort me I wouldn t be out here if it weren t for him I d already hiked the entire Appalachian Trail AT twice But this time it was different This time, I was trying to become the fastest personmale or femaleto travel the 2,189 mile footpath I was aiming for a fastest known time It was day seven and I had already traversed almost three hundred miles of the unforgiving yet alluring terrain Mainethat dark, full bodied beautyhad taken than her fair share out of me Now, just a few miles into New Hampshire, I was exhausted, filthy, and crippled by shin splints I longed for a quick, dignified end to the shooting pains, the relentless discomfort My current audience wasn t hiking with me Instead, he had come in by a side trail to check on my progress I couldn t decide whether I was grateful or angry to see him I vacillated between crediting him with my progress and blaming him for my near demise At least his presence gave me a reason to catch my breath Through heavy breathing and repressed sobs, I asked him, How do you know when to quit There was a drawn out silence Just when I d convinced myself he wasn t going to respond, Warren said, There s a difference between quitting and stopping I looked up at his backlit silhouette, then I returned my gaze to the ground Next to his thrift store sneakers, he had displayed a selection of vending machine junk food and neon colored sodas None of it appealed to me Finally, I let out a deep breath filled with congestion and unreleased emotion, picked up a purple vial of synthetic energy elixirthe kind of unregulated ooze they hawk at gas stationsthen continued hobbling down the trail Because we knew that if I stopped, I would be quitting I was a week into my record attempt on the Appalachian Trail, and with just one seventh of the trail behind me I d already wrestled with the greatest hurt that I had ever felt The pain from the shin splints was sharp, stabbing, and hot, but the ache of covering nearly fifty miles a day was widespread, dull, and throbbing It was an all encompassing agony I doubted I could make it to the end of the day, let alone the end of the trail But with Warren by my side, I felt pressure mostly positive pressure to keep going We were two people who shared the same questions What was my capacity for endurance Was it good enough to set a fastest known time And could I outperform all the men who had come before me Because I could still drag one foot in front of the other, I knew that I had not yet found those answers Warren s watchful eye held me accountable to this very personal and painful scientific query A week earlier, I had set off from the summit of Katahdin with a spring in my step I descended just over five miles on a steep, boulder strewn path to meet Warren and my husband, Brew, at the base of the mountain Lots of folks wished me well, or said they believed in me, but these were the only two men willing to drive to the heart of Maine, a place filled with blackflies and bogs, to begin this experiment by my side With each road crossing Warren and Brew marked my progress You made it here this fast, said Brew You are this far behind the record, said Warren You have this far to the next road, said Brew You should leave now to get there, said Warren After hiking 150 miles in three days, our team arrived at the banks of the Kennebec River Trying to use every minute, I decided to ford the river Alternatively, I would need to wait one hour to take advantage of a canoe ferry Steered by a seasonal employee of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the canoe ferries afford hikers a safe, mostly dry, transport across the dam controlled artery Warren had crossed the river numerous times on foot, so I followed his sturdy calves into the water His strong legs moved sideways against the forceful current until they disappeared Then his waist waded past the white ripples on the surface of the water Soon he was immersed up to his armpits in the cold, flowing channel I kept my eyes on Warren and struggled to keep my toes anchored to the large, smooth stones at my feet Breathless from fear and the chill of the water, I tried to stay in his wake My sports bra changed from a light purple to a dark violet as I forged deeper and farther into the river I listened to Warren as he voiced a steady and concise refrain Feet down Feet down Feet down I repeated the chorus in a murmuring echo, hoping to drown out the profanities swimming through my head I noticed goose bumps on my skin as my stomach muscles rose above the surface of the water Soon my thighs slashed through the dark grips of the Kennebec, and after a harrowing and invigorating twenty minute crossing, I stood dripping wet on the opposite shore My eyes turned to meet Warren s approving gaze I smiled and let out a half whimper, half giggle Warren responded with a deep, bellowing laugh Then he struck a pose and shouted, I may have the face of a sixty one year old and the belly of a couch potato, but I ve still got the legs of a WILD RIVER MAN Here stood my ferryman the person who had taught me the difference between stopping and quitting, the man who believed that I could be the first woman to set the overall record on the Appalachian Trail, and the individual who showed me how to keep my feet down and not get swept away by the current The year 1973 marked the beginning of the end of the Vietnam War It was the year of the controversial Roe v Wade verdict in the Supreme Court The Watergate scandal infiltrated the ranks of the White House Warren Doyle was twenty three years old He was aware of the civil unrest and he was becoming a proponent of social justice As a child, he had witnessed his father, a veteran of World War II, struggle to find work and support his family As an undergrad, Warren spent a summer volunteering in the mountains of Jamaica Most of the locals there lived in corrugated metal shacks When his mother came to visit, he refused to stay in the hotel with her The disparity between the wealth of the tourists and poverty of the natives was so unsettling to Warren that he preferred to spend the night with the homeless street kids rather than sleep on clean white sheets The summer after his senior year, he volunteered at a folk school on the edge of the West Virginia coalfields, where he saw the same type of injustice and economic disparity that he had witnessed in Jamaica Here he met the Appalachian poet and activist Don West, who quickly became an inspiration and mentor Warren was the first member of his family to attend college After receiving his undergraduate degree in elementary education, he accepted a University of Connecticut fellowship that aimed to help schoolteachers understand and implement desegregation through a prestigious doctoral program He was learning about society and he was learning about education, but he still didn t know who he was I still had questions, he said Was I a product of society or was I an individual I wanted to do something that didn t have an extrinsic reward I wanted an ultimate challengea cleansing It isn t uncommon for a young adult to question his identity and the culture in which he lives But Warren was unlike many of his contemporaries who were drawn to drug infused music festivals and social protests As the youngest grad school student in his program, he was an achiever, and he tried to respond to injustice and uncertainty by excelling in his academic field After reading of the walkabouts and pilgrimages so important in other cultures, Warren decided that he would hike the Appalachian Trail But because he didn t like to waste time or money and because he wanted to know how much he could take and how much he could give Warren decided to complete the trail in under seventy days Warren wasn t always driven In fact, in middle school, he was a mediocre student social survival trumped academic achievement I was scared to raise my hand in class I didn t want to stand out I was afraid if I knew the answers, I would get beat up Then one day his fifteen year old sister, Colleen, his only sibling, developed a bad headache Three days later, she died from an undetected brain aneurysm I remember my parents grief than my own, said Warren I can still see the look on their faces as they came up the stairs to tell me the news Their expressions were full of suffering And now they had to put that aside and find a way to try and comfort me, their son, the only child they had left When a person is affected deeply by the passing of another, he can choose to die, too He can turn to self destructive habits and let his emotions become shriveled and cynical On the other hand, a grief that deep can also awaken something in a person and motivate him to live life fully I never wanted to see my parents hurt that much again, said Warren I vowed that I would make my life count double In May of 1973, Warren s parents drove him south from Connecticut to Springer Mountain, Georgia Recent heavy rainfall in the Southern Appalachians had caused rivers to flood and roads to wash out When they stopped on their route to drop a resupply package off at the newly built Nantahala Outdoor Center, the coursing waters of the Nantahala River lapped at the wooden buildings on its banks In a week s time, Warren would need to pick up his cardboard box filled with several days worth of rations and replacement gear in order to continue his journey He left his box of foodstuffs at the outfitter, hoping that his provisions and the building would be there when he arrived In north Georgia, the forest service road leading up to the trail s southern terminus was in such poor shape that Warren insisted his parents turn back Without knowing exactly where he was or how far he had to walk to reach the trailhead, Warren buckled his pack over his blue jeans, slung a two quart metal canteen over his shoulder, and started hiking When Warren reached the top of Springer Mountain, his first thought was for his parents safety He doubted their ability to drive down the gravel road without incident He envisioned the soft shoulder giving way, his parents car sliding off the side of the mountain The first three miles of his hike passed quickly as Warren worried about his folks But when he arrived at the Three Forks stream crossing, he started to worry about his own predicament The mountain stream was swollen and the bridge had been washed away Warren knew he would have to ford the stream, but he didn t want to get his new leather boots wet When he unlaced his left boot and heaved it into the air, it barely cleared the opposite bank He then removed his right shoe and threw it with even oomph, but the added strength caused the boot to hit a low hanging hemlock branch and drop straight down into the water The current swiftly carried it downstream In a panic, Warren threw off his pack and plunged in, body surfing around boulders and fallen branches until he was able to reach out and grab the nearly submerged boot With his free hand, he pulled himself up on the bank Once on terra firma, he dumped the water from his boot and laced it up below his sopping wet blue jeans After navigating a maze of rhododendron branches upstream, he finally buckled his dry pack onto his dripping body and plodded half shod through the raging waters of the Three Forks to where the other boot was waiting Warren had exited the mainstream He put on his shoe and kept walking On the second day of his journey, Warren summited Blood Mountain before descending to Highway 19 at Neel Gap, where there was a small roadside store and hiker hostel He took his boots off, hoping against hope that they would eventually dry out, then he used the pay phone to confirm that his parents were safe Less than a week later, Warren found his resupply package right where he d left it at the Nantahala Outdoor Center Then he worked his way through Great Smoky Mountains National Park and over the Southern Appalachian high points, Unaka Mountain, Roan Mountain, and Mount Rogers Three and a half weeks into his hike, Warren made it to Pearisburg, Virginia He d come than 625 miles To celebrate his progress, he went straight to the town s Dairy Queen, where he consumed french fries, a cheeseburger, and ice cream He felt a little queasy, but he ordered a few menu items for good measure, placing them in his pack before walking back to the trail, where he set up camp The next morning Warren woke up, broke camp, and polished off the carton of orange juice, jug of milk, and other treats he d been saving for breakfast Hiking out of Pearisburg on Route 460, he started to cross the bridge that spans the New River He only made it halfway He was suspended sixty feet above one of the oldest rivers in the world when his stomach churned and started cramping He thought about turning back, but it was too late Maybe he could make it across if he took his time He took a step Then he froze He clenched every muscle in his body, but it didn t matter There was nothing he could do Almost a third of the way into his record attempt on the Appalachian Trail, Warren Doyle stood on the shoulder of a bridge in Pearisburg, Virginia, shitting himself.Warren waddled back to town feeling physically depleted and emotionally ruined He stopped at the first motel he came to and asked about a room and a shower When the desk attendant saw him, she immediately called an ambulance At the hospital, Warren receivedan IV, and once he started to feel better he called home with an update When his father heard that Warren was in the hospital, he got in the car and drove south.Warren Doyle, Sr., a toll collector on the Connecticut Turnpike, made arrangements to take as much time off as possible so he could support his son on the trail As a parent whod struggled financially and couldnt put his child through college, this was a very physical way for a father to help his son With his fathers support, Warren got back on the trail and began to make up time and miles And with his father carrying the majority of his provisions in a station wagon and meeting him at road crossings, Warren could travel farther and efficiently than before.It didnt take long, however, for Warren Sr to learn just how difficultit is to offer support on a long distance hikeespecially to someone you love Not only was he responsible for having the proper gear and food at hand, but he also had to navigate the unmarked forest roads of rural Appalachia with handheld maps Even difficultwas the emotional toll of supporting his son.When Warren hit the mid Atlantic, the summer temperatures soared and his dad had to watch him suffer through oppressive heat.The triple digit temperatures and suffocating humidity made it hard to eat and sleep Warren struggled to balance his electrolytes, but he sweated so much that it was difficult to take in the right amount of fluids and salts.On one scorching afternoon, Warren came to a road crossing inthe Wallkill Valley of New Jersey His father was waiting for him As soon as he saw Warren walk out of the forest, he brought out a bag ofice from the cooler in the back of the station wagon He offered the dripping bag to his son, who was now hunched over in the passenger seat with the door ajar Why dont you stop and take a rest A day offwould help you get your energy back.Without hesitation Warren looked up, and with sweat dripping from his forehead and ice running down the back of his neck, he replied, Dad, you need to push me right now I need to be pushed.Then he handed his dad the bag of ice, took up his pack, and started hiking away from the car.The northern latitudes and increasing elevation provided a welcome respite from the oppressive heat As he climbed Mount Greylock in Massachusetts, he noticed the forest changing temperature and color The chartreuse leaves of the deciduous trees gave way to dark evergreens and emerald ground moss He breathed in smells of spruce and fir His legs felt strong and his feet felt swift.As he reached the summit late in the day and started his descentinto Vermont, he could see the sun setting over the Green Mountains before him He kept a small transistor radio clipped to his pack, and as he strode gracefully down the dimly lit trail, Beethovens Fifth Symphony began to play His gait increased with the music and he started to see how long his foot could stay suspended in the air before touching the ground It felt like flying.I leaped as I had never leaped before The moment was filled witha vision of hope and the strength of athleticism that comes hand and hand with struggle.He paused momentarily as he recounted the story, I remember thinking Isnt the distance wonderful This was his intrinsic reward This iswhat he had come to the wilderness to find He had obtained an answer and embraced a feeling that was made possible by a grueling journey, one that questioned his makeup and tested his resolve He knew he could never experiencethis joythis nirvanawithout suffering through a gut wrenching, soul searching inquisition.After befriending adversity for sixty six days, Warren reached Baxter State Park, climbed the last mountainKatahdinand set the fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail He left with a greater sense of self and a different perspective on societyan outsiders view.After that, there was no going back, he said.Now, he would question everythingand everyone.I first met Warren in 2004 I was nearly the same age he was when he set his record But back then I didnt know that the Appalachian Trail had records or that Warren had set one I was just out of college, and despite my having zero backcountry experience, there was an immutable innervoice that said I had to hike the Appalachian Trail In an effort to acquire some last minute skills before my departure date and to assuage my mothers fears, I enrolled in the Appalachian Trail Institute.Warren had founded the institute fifteen years earlier in order tohelp aspiring thru hikersindividuals who hoped to hike the entire trail in a calendar yearaccomplish their goal Since Warrens first thru hike and successful FKT fastest known time , he had returned to the trail time after time with the goal of completing the entirepath And every attempt had been successful, in spite of the fact that the overall completion rate on the AT hovered just above 25 percent.It baffled Warren that only one out of four hikers who started the trail would complete their journey In his mind, the low finishing rate was caused by poor emotional and mental preparation Most aspiring backpackers spent countless hours sitting behind a computer researching gear, but they neglected to train their brain for the challenge of being in the wildernessand away from homefor months at a time.It is easier to debate the merits of a down sleeping bag versus a synthetic sleeping bag than it is to process the reality of shivering all night when the temperature drops below the chosen bags comfort rating, or to conceptualize the discomfort of the wet and matted stuffing draped over your body after rain leaks into the stuff sack, or to consider the rank smell of sweat and mold that will seep out of the fabric regardless of how many times you wash it Selecting a sleeping bag is easy using it for five months is hard.My first morning at the Appalachian Trail Institute, Warren pulled me aside after the initial classroom session and said, The AT will change you.Praise for The Pursuit of EnduranceJennifer Pharr Davis is an understated hero who matched the speed and endurance of some of the countrys best male ultrarunnersprofessional athletes with corporate sponsorships and well financed expeditionsall on her own and with relatively little fanfare A fascinating read, and a testament to the fortitude of an extraordinary woman Dean Karnazes, ultramarathoner and New York Times bestselling author Theres no better guide through the scientific and psychological tangles of extreme hiking than Jennifer Pharr Davis She knows because she lived it Ben Montgomery, author of Grandma Gatewoods Walk Jennifer Pharr Davis eloquently reminds us that the feats of endurance we accomplish on the trail build the character to muscle through all of lifes ups and downs Kathryn Van Waes, executive director, American Hiking Society A fascinating look at how the worlds most famous long distance hiking trail has challenged and transformed a cast of unique and diverse individuals, shining a light on the inherent gender equality of men and women pursuing the elusive Fastest Known Time Ron Tipton, former executive director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Jennifer Pharr Davis shows us that a love for nature is not predicated on a specific speed or distance but through authentic outdoor experiences Those of us who go outdoors are united by commonalities than the activities that divide us, and she reminds us that all of lifeand conservationis an effort of endurance Chuck McGrady, president of the Sierra Club 19982000 At times reminiscent of the writings of such travel memoirists as Cheryl Strayed and Bill Bryson, this inspiring work could become a regular companion for distance hikers or, indeed, for anyone embarking on a personal challenge Publishers Weekly Jennifer Pharr Daviss natural storytelling ability and a charming cast of characters in the form of spirited hiking mentors make the pages fly in this accessible handbook, which reads less like a step by step instruction manual and like an empowering blueprint to building one s own endurance A captivating narrative guidebook that will inspire readers to test their own limits, on the trail and off Kirkus ReviewsA provocative exploration into what motivates people to endure Daviss unique perspective, and the lessons she shares are applicable to personal experiences as well as athletic endeavors BooklistFor readers interested in hiking, endurance sports, or anyone with a strong drive to do something different 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    • Format Kindle
    • 0735221898
    • The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience
    • Jennifer Pharr Davis
    • Anglais
    • 18 June 2016

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