Friday, December 17, 2010

and so it begins again...

It’s a really strange time of the year you know. I’m totally over the not training for an event thing, but it’s still 3 weeks before the formal training plan for my 50 miler starts.  I’m getting in about an hour a week of running, mixing up high and low intensity on the treadmill, getting to the pool once a week and just enjoying my 9 km (round trip) walking to and from work. But I’m preparing for the battle(s). I’m thinking about projected times for both the 50 miler and Ironman. I’m thinking about what music I want on my journey. I’m thinking about whether or not I can do it. Because, it’s not a given you know. You have to respect the distance. At the longer races finishing is always the first victory, the first goal. Over the course of 50 miles/80 km on a trail, ankles can be rolled and the race over, GI issues can flare up that can’t be ignored until later. Oh, and the agony of blisters. The distance left can be just so long that it’s not a matter of mind over distance; it becomes very much a physical wall that you might not be able to climb over. There’s a good reason “the wall” is the perfect metaphor for the point in the marathon when you run smack up into a very physical barrier. It’s not all mental.

I’m researching  and preparing to practice blister prevention and learning about the wonders of the GI tract and what happens after hours and hours of physical effort. Knowledge is power and I’m trying to become powerful.

The imagination needs training too and along with post it notes with my “achievable time” and “ideal” times on them I’m also collecting snippets of inspiration, great writing from people’s blogs and, of course, some Steve Prefontaine quotes. This stuff really helps me, it reminds me of the commonality of endurance athletics, of Steve P’s “guts” in racing, of the journey that we all take on this earth to be fitter, healthier and therefore happier.

There are so many reasons to be doing what I’m doing. I was able, for instance to run a trail in Sedona that left me breathless with beauty along with the elevation. I think when I listen to U2’s “Elevation” as I train this year, I’ll remember the glow of the red rocks against the blue sky and the feeling of moving over the landscape at just the perfect pace, at a pace that felt very human and very ancient.

Contrast that with how we felt watching this year’s race as some many at the peak of their fitness moved over the course in Tempe. I really missed my Iron fitness that day. I missed the feeling of endless possibility that my training had given me. I’m not unrealistic, I knew last year that I wasn’t going to beat 16 hours by much, but gosh, to move across 140.6 miles in less than 17 hours fuelled only by my body, how awesome was that?

So, right now I’m at the first stage – “can I”?  Can I finish in 12 hours in Ancaster next May? Can I finish in 14.5 hours in Tempe next November? Can I do better? I don’t know right now. I do know that the next stage is “I think I can” and, most wonderfully, the third stage is “I know I can”. I love that stage.

And then “I’m doing it”, and the most beautiful place in the world is laid out before me and I complete a 50 miler, and I’m an Ironman again.

Thanks to Molly for this spectacular picture of the IMAZ finish chute. It’s currently my desktop at work and I know I’ll return to it many many times in the 11 months to come.