Friday, November 28, 2014

Making plans

A friend forwarded me a great article describing Nicola Spirig's planned Ironman debut in Cozumel this weekend.  An Olympic medallist in triathlon in 2012, and an athlete of the infamous (and controversial Brett Sutton), Nicola is an incredible inspiration to me not because of what she does (aka race incredibly fast) but because of the manner in which she does it:  her way.

She is not only a triathlete and an incredible athlete period, but a professional (lawyer) and a mother. She has a life outside the sport and, much like any age-grouper, balances her passion for racing with real life responsibilities.  It is incredibly refreshing to see someone at this level demonstrate not only an ability to balance life, but a desire to expand her focus beyond elite level ITU racing.  By all accounts, the article indicates that the main reason she is racing Ironman Cozumel is purely curiosity.  Because she can.

Born an original

At the end of my "tri" season, I started making plans as I always do.  End of season always brings reflection and finality, but reinforces the things that make me tick.

I blogged in October about dreaming a new dream.  I was genuinely surprised at the wide range of responses - from support and encouragement to incredulousness.  But this process of creating intention should not come as a surprise.  Just as I took the plunge into triathlon five years ago, I am driven not by repetitiveness in my future plans, but by life experience.  Each year my motivation and goals evolve, and I expect will continue to do so over my lifetime.

I race because I can, and because it lends to my life.  I want to feel challenged, even a bit scared, of the things I take on. I am not interested in complacency or following a crowd - I was born an original, and intend to stay that way.  I am also not a "bucket lister".  Certainly there are experiences that I have simply tried and am not interested in repeating, but there are also experiences I will repeat because they lend something to my life that I need at that time, or represent activities that I have a desire to get better at.  There is no rhyme or reason to just is.  If something happens to be one-and-done, it is because I chose it, and not because I checked off a to-do list.        

Two themes emerged from my race experiences last year:  defining possible, and racing for me alone. These are themes I will carry into my goals for 2015.  

Defining possible

I was wholeheartedly and genuinely terrified of both Alcatraz and Norseman.  That did not make them impossible - they simply represented the opportunity to me to rise to my potential.  Did everything go swimmingly (pun intended)?  No.  But that is the amazing part of endurance activities.  The fear is magnetic - being on the edge of your capability, learning how to adapt and realizing that you are capable of much, much more than you ever believed.  Simply - it is defining possible.

Racing for me alone

I have been, and will continue to be, very selective in the events I choose.  Racing needs to have soul, an inherent attraction - whether it is the location, the terrain, the competition.  The spandex parade interests me not, nor does the "flat, fast" mentality - I want finishing to be a question mark, not an eventuality.  The reward to me is in the effort and in the experience - it matters not to me if I am fifth or first or fiftieth, how I placed in my age group, or what my time was as long as I put forth my best. The race experience I desire is me against me, the elements and the terrain.  Period.

Up, up, up!

The "epic" in 2015 will come from the self-powered adventure known as the Haute Route.  A seven day, 900 kilometre traverse of the Alps and Dolomites - starting in Geneva and (hopefully!) ending in Venice.  There happen to be a few mountains in between...23,500 meters of climbing in aggregate.  You read that right...meters.   Am I scared?  Damned right.

A few hills there...
Moving out of the crowd

I seriously contemplated getting out of triathlon this year.  The age-group experience, particularly in my most recent race, was no longer an enjoyable one for me.  Large races with significant male participation create a very challenging environment on the bike for a relatively weak swimmer like me.  The swim is a beatdown, the bike is a congested mess.  Quite frankly...I was frustrated with my experience.

However, I have been a single sport athlete before and I recall exactly why I expanded my horizons - because I love the variety, I appreciate being able to move between sports, and I believe that each is a compliment to each other.  And while the Haute Route will certainly demand a focus on the bike, I realized I would be remiss to give up on swim/run so easily after working so hard.  I would honestly miss it all...yes, even the pool.  So the change I choose will not involve giving anything up...but will change the way the game is played.  (Because, after all, it is my game and I get to choose!)  

So I took the plunge out of age-group to become a forty-year old "baby pro".  I have no predictions on how this will go, no illusions of greatness, but am appreciative that the opportunity presents itself to race off the front with the fast girls (read:  chase the fast girls).  To my mind, you can never regret a decision you chose not to make. The anticipated ass-kicking will begin in March!  #yolo  

No turning back now!
 And with that...the planned (mis)adventures of 2015 are locked and loaded.  Things just got real :)

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