In 2024, we're embarking on an exciting new angle here at Free Swim.
Occasionally, we'll feature a Guest Swimmer(s) who will share their unique experiences and insights.
Today, we're thrilled to introduce our first Guest Swimmers, Ryan and Chad Estis, as they share their unforgettable Misogi moment.
But what exactly is Misogi?
A Misogi is an ancient Japanese ritual around cleansing and purification. We've taken the liberty to stretch the true meaning, and to us it represents a unique and challenging event that defines your year. It requires a journey of self-discovery and transformation, pushing one's physical and mental limits to achieve a seemingly impossible goal. One thing that gives you purpose and cleanses the soul when completed.
In essence, a Misogi embodies the spirit of relentless determination and unwavering commitment to personal growth.
As the sun set, Jesse paced in front of the crowd holding a microphone and everyone’s attention.
"Tomorrow, an hour into the challenge, the world around us will fall silent. We will keep going, but for the next 20 minutes, we'll embrace profound stillness. During this time, we invite you to reflect on the 'why' behind your endeavor and the people you're doing it for, beyond yourself."
"We encourage you to ponder these questions tonight because tomorrow, when the going gets tough, when the pain sets in, and you contemplate giving up, you can draw strength from that well of inspiration to push onward and complete what you set out to achieve."
I was fully committed to the post-dinner prompt from our esteemed host, Jesse Itzler.
It was the eve of our Misogi, Hell on The Hill, the world’s hilliest half-marathon. My brother and I had arrived in South Berwick, Maine, earlier in the week, ready to take on the extraordinary challenge.
It was a bucket list item for him, and for me, it was a grueling test of determination and endurance. As I retired for the night, I made a solemn promise to myself: "I am going to finish what I started."
Who Are We Running For?
Before the starting gun echoed through the air on Misogi Day, Jesse invited a few brave souls to share the reasons driving them and the individuals they would honor during the forthcoming silent 20 minutes.
As these heartfelt stories unfolded, not a dry eye remained on the hill. I was deeply moved, inspired, overcome with emotion, and profoundly grateful to be part of this transformative experience.
Leaning over to my brother Chad, I casually asked, "Who are you running for, man?"
He didn't hesitate, replying with unwavering resolve, "I am running for you, bro. That's why we're here. I'm running for brotherhood."
I nodded, fully understanding his motivation. Together, we were determined to finish what we started.
Both of us faced our limits on that challenging day. Truth be told, we had both undertrained. Yet, together, we found the strength to persevere and complete our Misogi challenge.
Pushing Past Perceived Limits
During his opening words, Jesse shared three hopes he had for everyone taking part in this extraordinary event. He wished that each participant would:
- Meet someone new.
- Learn something new.
- Try something new.
Through this experience, I've come to realize that almost everyone has something valuable to teach us. I learned a great deal from the remarkable community on that hill.
Being surrounded by individuals who push past their perceived limits for a cause greater than themselves is truly extraordinary.
Our Misogi served as a poignant reminder that in life, there are moments when we believe we've reached our breaking point.
What we discover on the other side is that we have more to give than we ever thought possible, that we can keep pushing forward, and that part of the reason we persist is for those beside us.
Some of my most profound learning occurs when I am willing to look deep inside myself. I am better for it, and I am reminded (again) to keep showing up, trying my best, and chipping away. I couldn’t have done it alone — I needed my brother. I also know he needed me.
That shared understanding means everything. I encourage you to think about why you are running and who you are running for. When it gets hard, borrow that inspiration and the belief and support of someone else who cares enough to run right along with you.
And whatever you do—plan a Misogi for 2024.