At the 2016 Iditarod Mushers Banquet

At the 2016 Iditarod Mushers Banquet

I am becoming overwhelmed by extreme pluck.

Today’s megadose came by way of Cindy Abbot who decided to cope with a diagnosis of a super rare and potentially fatal disease by climbing Mt. Everest and then doing the Iditarod sled dog race, thereby becoming the only woman to do both. Her husband, a retired cop standing in the back of the room where she was speaking at the Iditarod lecture, was her training partner as they climbed mountains in the U.S., Russia, Turkestan, and Argentina. He’s a great man, she said, and all heads turned to see said great man, dressed in a T-shirt, khakis and sandals. He shrugged, it was nothing. Heck, any guy will tool around the globe to help his wife climb mountains. Half of us were wondering where the cash for all this gallivanting came from. Not my half. A different half.

But, oh, it’s more complicated than that. It took her 51 days and numerous ups and downs between base camps to summit Mt. Everest, at points walking on ladders laid across 2,000 foot crevices and when one was missing, jumping across. It took her three tries to finish the Iditarod, the first time scratching late in the race only to find that the terrible pain she’d been experiencing since a fall early on was the result of a broken pelvis. Yes, she rode a sled pulled by 16 dogs through the wilderness for several days with a broken pelvis. The second time she injured her shoulder and had to scratch. But the third time, she finished. Last. After 14 days mushing alone through the Alaskan wilderness. The winner finished in nine days. She got the Red Lantern Award, meaning that she was given the honor of taking the symbolic red lantern down from the Iditarod finish line in Nome.

My coffee was cold so I went to get a new cup. Nothing worse than cold coffee.

I need a more remarkable life, I told my husband. I need to do something extraordinary. Maybe you could be more like Cindy Abbott’s husband, I suggest to him, thinking that a team effort aimed at my greatness would be smart. He reminded me that he was driving me to Dayton later this month to go to the Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop.

It’ll make me a better blogger. I dream the impossible dream.

I feel Lilliputian in spirit and gumption.

Cindy Abbott’s not the only pluck that’s overwhelming me today. There’s Mitch Seavey, Jeff King and Brent Sass, all champion mushers I heard today. And then there was the documentary about Lance Mackey. A pluck tsunami. But there is a difference between female pluck and male pluck. It’s only the former that gets me checking my own pluckiness. Why is that? you ask. You can’t figure it out? I answer.

Anyway, the guys told me things that will come in handy in my little careful future like:

“You can’t push a rope.”

” To go faster, we need to slow down.”

“It’s all about energy management.”

I wrote these things on a tiny piece of paper and looked at them tonight, settling on my favorite.

You can’t push a rope. Absolutely, I get it. And I wouldn’t even try.