This is a picture of my best friend, Steph Fellows. Milking a cow. In South America somewhere.
And if it weren’t for her, I would never have started to care about being active. Because I would have never thought about being active as a reward you give yourself, or a gateway to exploring the unknown, or a way to build your community. But being active is all of those things, and I have Steph to thank for introducing me to this world.
In high school, I looked up to Steph big time. She was (is) energetic, confident, spunky, and hilarious. I wanted what this girl had, and so I started tagging along with her on backpacking trips, runs that turned into walks every time, and pretty soon her family became my family.
And few weeks ago when I asked for guest post submissions, this is what she sent me.
I was surprised, because I had never even considered that I could inspire someone who had been my inspiration. And when I read this, I got more than a little teary.
I’ve been wondering when to post this, but I figured that now is as good a time as any. So here you have it, folks.
If Brandon gets to be the BF, I think I’m going to introduce myself as the BFF (one of the many that is). I consider myself lucky to be a member of Claire’s posse, quietly (or in my case, not so quietly) cheering her on from the background. She is an inspiration to me and I think a large part of that might be because I know where she started and how hard she has worked to get to this point. For those of you who don’t have the luxury of sharing years of dress up, craft projects, family dinners, student council and everything in between, I would like to shed some light on just how far she has come.
Claire has been nothing but honest with you about her past successes and failures, athletic and beyond. From my perspective, she is being too humble about her accomplishments this past year. I have seen her struggle for a breath of air more times than I want to remember. I have seen her collapse underneath the weight of a backcountry backpack. I have seen the pain that accompanies navigating whitewater wave trains spread across her face. I’m not saying this to break Claire down. I am saying this because the Claire Hay, girlfriend, daughter, sister (did you know she has like 13 siblings?), friend, crossfitter, blogger and a thousand other things, is one of the most fiercest competitors I know. And it’s not because of the professional or physical feats she has conquered this year (although, you had to be a cold hearted beezy if you didn’t get pumped when she did a pull-up).
No, she is a true competitor because she gets after it when no one is watching. I see this in her conscious food choices as well as her time spent in her ‘box’ (did I use that right?). In recent years, she has developed this awesome quality of never letting her physical body stop her from trying new, hardcore things like ice climbing…definitely didn’t expect that one. On top of all that though, she never gives up. Literally, I have walked with Claire through some uncomfortable situations and no matter how bad or how hard it is, she can always laugh and learn from it. How many people can truthfully say that about themselves?
A lot of things that Claire does, I don’t understand. Like why work for months to do a pull-up or give up your favorite foods? I can ask dumb questions like that but the answers are very clear: her perseverance and inner determination is something that very few people possess and it drives her to continually try new things. She doesn’t only try new things, but won’t stop until she has conquered them.
And, in her own Claire way, everyday she gets one step closer to defeating the only competitor that really matters: ourselves.
It is because of all of these things that I am so proud of her and admire what she has become for me, and so many others: a badass role model.