I’ve spent much of the last year trying to get back in shape and get fit again. Overall I would call it a success. There are always things I could have done better. My cup is always half full like that. I did come dangerously close to drinking the Ironman KoolAid though. And while I’m satisfied with my decision to pass on that kind of crazy, I spent a lot of my training time alone or only doing half the workout the crowd did because they all WERE doing IM. This still gave me a lot of time to think about my goals, what I was doing out there and why, life, the universe… everything.
Anyway, I still just don’t feel like I belong. I know. I know. Forty Seven and still looking for purpose and direction. That’s just sad.
I guess I just looked really hard at doing an IM this year and could quite possibly have pulled it off. It wouldn’t have been pretty, but I probably could have done it. But when have I been about pretty…
The point is, I didn’t WANT to. And to do something as deadly serious as an IM, you have to WANT it. More than anything else. More than breathing. Otherwise you will NOT succeed. And you could potentially really get hurt. And I did. not. want. it. If anything, the only reason I even contemplated it was peer pressure. I had a lot of people saying really positive things and almost got swept away in it. For me, it finally boiled down to one thing. And I would have never guessed this would be a deal breaker when I started triathlon. I just don’t love road bicycling enough to put my butt in the seat for 6 hours or more. Honestly (and I never thought I would say this), I like the swim more than the bike. And Chicago cemented that. Even though the swim was rough as hell and I was slow as always, I felt better in the water than I did on the bike.
Back to thinking. So, if I’m not IM kind of crazy… then what am I? I KNOW I have the endurance bug. But if not IM… then what?
Two things actually…
1. Redemption- I got handed my head in two efforts at longer distance races. First was the marathon. Yes, I put in the miles, ate plenty of Gu, suffered and struggled. And that was just to get to the starting line. But I see now that I did it all wrong. And I was just not in good enough shape when I toed the line. All my fault, yes. My marathon was wonderful until mile 20. Then my calves seized up to the point of paralysis. I missed my goal of a 4 hour marathon by over 40 minutes. I want another shot.
Then there was the half IM. Same story (exactly), different chapter. Surprised myself on the swim, felt FANTASTIC for 55 miles on the bike… unfortunately, the half IM bike distance is 56 miles. I cramped up at mile 55 and then did a 13 mile death march and missed my goal of a 5:30 by an hour and 15 minutes. Horrible cramping, not in good shape. Abysmal result. I know I can manage a race better than that. Again… I want another shot.
2. One of the things that my mind kept going back to during those long training hours was where I was NOT. And that was on the dirt trails and singletrack that I really love. THAT is where my heart is. It’s where I’m happy. Yes, I am horribly slow. But out there? I don’t care. It feels right. I hate having to (and this is really my choice…) step away from that when I train for triathlons for fear of injury. But usually I have skin in the game by the time I start really training for triathlons (meaning: I paid for a race) and am afraid I’ll get hurt. Even though I get hurt as much or more in triathlon training. But I really just wanted to be on the trails.
Now granted, I will probably never be a hundred miler. But I could do a 50 miler. Definitely a 50K. And having done several off road events, I have to say I really like the atmosphere and laid back feeling that surrounds them. Sure, everybody is concerned with nutrition, lighting, equipment, etc. But the personalities are different. The vibe is different. It’s comfortable. It feels right.
And let’s face it. I’m not doing this for the bling. I’m old. There is very little danger of me ever gracing the podium. It’s about staying healthy, having fun and personal achievement. So as I look at next year I think my path is pretty clear. A spring marathon, and then a 50K trail race. Then switch training to triathlons and go after a fall half IM (maybe Border War?). And if along the way I fall completely in love with trails then that is where I will stay. And I kinda hope that happens. Who knows, maybe I’ll combine the two and do that Xterra I have been dreaming about. I’ve already got the gear for it. I’m not saying I’m going to sell my tri bike, but I’m going to look long and hard at it next year. We need to come to some kind of an agreement or I’m moving on. I’m not getting any younger… 🙂 Just a little more crazy…