I have returned, here is what I have learned...

Well that was a complete flop, or was it?

If I were to describe my Cuba experience in one word, that word would be arduous.  From the time I left home the trip was onerous and taxing.  Yes, there was moments of respite and joy, but the difficulties were immense.  I went with a pocket full of questions and quickly received the answers I was seeking.  I have returned home early.  This is what I Learned,

Q:  Can I still travel solo and enjoy the experience?

A:  No.

I just do not enjoy travel and adventures any longer on my own.  I have gone through the pains of being away enough times that I no longer have any desire to do it in the immediate future.  I have begun to cultivate and cherish many relationships and I want to create memories with those people.  This isn't to say that I am retiring from adventuring, it merely means that I am turning my attention in a different direction.  I am forever grateful for my time spent traveling on my own as I believe it was invaluable to my self-discovery.  However, it is time for a change.  

Q:  Could I thrive on a plant-based diet?

A:  No, at least not in Cuba, and not the way I wanted

I am still an advocate for a plant-based lifestyle, so that has not changed.  I thought it would be easy to find restaurants and farmer markets while in Cuba.  I was carrying an eleven litre pack, which meant I had to find my nutrition often. It was very difficult to find food that nourished in the way that I am accustomed.  In one particular village all I could find was a lady who gave me some very stale bread and some over sweetened fruit juice.  I was grateful for the generosity, however high performance via nutrition has been a large aspect of my life lately.  After ingesting the bread and juice—despite it being vegan—I felt like crap.  I was not prepared to lower my standards for nutrition in order to complete the run.   

Q:  Could I run everyday and feel strong?

A:  No

I loathe admitting to my physical limitations, however given how far I had to run and how few days I had, it was not going to happen unless I wrecked my legs.  I really needed to allow myself more time, but I did not.  Either that or more conditioning time.  I wanted to do this adventure in part to improve as a runner, however the constant tear down of muscles without time to repair is not the way to improve as an athlete.  

Failed run?  Failed adventure?  

The run itself was a complete flop.  Take ahalf-cooked pancake and hurtle it a wall, that was the result of the run.  This disastrous outcome clarified the direction I want my life to go in.  I am totally passionate about performance and plant-based nutrition, so that is what I am going to focus on.  

The adventure itself was anything but a failure.   Within two weeks I boarded seven planes, ran 100Km, met a ton of awesome people, witnessed a country mourn Fidel Castro, saw four very cool cities, got robbed at knife point, ate some new food, took cool photos, talked to many Cubans, got held by the police, and wore the same shirt every single day.  Oh and I think I may have fractured my a rib. Not to mention the valuable things I learned about myself.  And to be honest I think I already knew a lot of the answers to the questions I was seeking, they just needed to be smashed in to my somewhat dense skull.  Perhaps this is yet another revelation:  that I need certain lessons to be forced and reiterated many times!  

So I have returned home.  I am going to hit the reset button and re-assess where and what I want the next year or so of my life to look like.  I am trying to hone in on a specific project—I have many ideas—it is just which project to start.  I want to thank everyone who has supported me and continues to do so, without you my life has much less meaning. 

Jason ManningComment