“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” Shakespeare
I started get back into running at the beginning of the year. I took a little time off after my last race and it ended up being 11 years. My goal was simply to have no goals. I just wanted to get in decent shape and have some fun. I failed to achieve that goal, because after a couple of months I started thinking about shit to do.
Not just any goal would do. I could sign up for a marathon, 100 mile run or an Ironman, but just finishing one of those did not seem like much of a goal. Do not take that the wrong way finishing your first 5K or sprint triathlon is a great accomplishment. My favorite part of being a race director is seeing people finish their first whatever it may be. My issue was that I had done all those things in the past, so none of them would be a first. I needed a goal that would challenge me both mentally and physically. I needed a goal that would require me to do something I sucked at. That left many, many options.
Distance has never been a problem, speed on the other hand is something I lack. My first thought was to work toward the World Championships in the Olympic distance triathlon (age group of course). It might be fun to see how well I could do. Back in the 80s I had done quite a few of the Olympic distance races. Well, they weren’t Olympic distance at that point because triathlon was not an Olympic sport.
My next thought did turn toward the marathon. Not just to run one, but to try to run one fast. In the past, I had run a few respectable marathons. I did very little specific training for the distance as I was running way too much mileage training for ultras. The goal would be to break 3 hours at 50 years old. That would give me either 11 years or a year and a half depending on how honest I was being. Seemed like a good goal that would require some serious training.
Around the middle of April, I ran across some information on a race in North Dakota. It was an off-road iron distance race. The more I read about it, the more intrigued I became. The winning time was normally around 17 hours, which is the cut off for a normal Ironman race, so it had to be tough. 6 miles of the run are in a creek and much of the rest of it is described as bushwhacking. The fastest run split is normally around 7 hours and the fastest bike around 9. I mentioned my lack of speed earlier, but that is nothing compared to my lack of coordination. Did I mention this is 112 miles on a mountain bike? The best part was that I had a whole 3 months to train for it.
I started swimming the next day and as soon as I could get a bike back in shape to ride I started cycling. I hit the roads on my old softride at first just to get the hang of riding again. Even though I was not in shape for either sport I felt surprisingly comfortable both in the water and saddle. Slow, but comfortable. I worked on these for about 3 weeks and then decided a test was in order. I swam 2.4 miles on Friday, rode 100 on Saturday, and then ran 20 something with Cynthia on the trails on Sunday. I lived through it so the only issues left were putting the 3 sports together and of course the mountain bike thing.
I went into this thinking I had a lack of skill on the mountain bike and just needed a lot of practice. Much to my surprise I found that not only did I have a lack of skill I was completely ignorant of anything mtb. In a way, it is embarrassing to admit that I have been around endurance sport for over 35 years and know nothing about an entire aspect of it. On the other hand, it is exciting to be learning something completely new. I was so ignorant and so bad that it will require its own post to describe it.
Three weeks ago, I heard about the short track mountain bike series in Louisville. 20 minutes of racing around a .6-mile loop. It requires speed and, of course, riding a mountain bike. I decided to give it a shot. It was a blast. There were a surprising number of people that I knew there as well as some new acquaintances. There were food trucks and a brewery. All I will say about my performance is that I had fun and lived through it. I came home and signed up for the race that night.
I have no expectations for my performance, but I do foresee a grand adventure. I will keep you updated.