Monday, October 13, 2014

Feeding the Obsession

My amazing wife is…amazing.  I’m so proud of her for pushing through the pain of the couch to run the Iron Horse Half Marathon yesterday.  She’s pretty sore today, but she’s coming around. 
We’ve got to stop doing this stuff to ourselves.  I don’t mean we need to quit running, cycling, and otherwise cavorting over the face of the planet.  We need to stop with the half-hearted efforts to be fit.
Both of us.
We’ve faked our way through some pretty tough events.  The last few months I’ve been content to let my “experience” with endurance events carry me through some rough suffering.  The Hub City Tour was a wakeup call for me.  While I can ride a century off the couch it’s just not fun.  I’ve got to evict the Blerch from around my middle.  I feel the strength and potential in me.  I’ve felt it my whole life.  But I keep it shackled with apathy, doubt, and fat. 
When I set out to ride the Leadville 100 I decided what I needed to prove to myself and to the world was that an average guy with limited resources could train for and finish a one hundred mile mountain bike race.  I did that.  I’m not satisfied with my effort, but I achieved my goal. 
The whole sordid affair began with a muttered “I could never do that.”  That thought evolved into a silent “could I ever do that?” and finally into “I’m going to do that.”  It took two years before I was open to the prospect of actually doing the race and another three before I had crossed the finish line.
Somewhere along the way—in a discussion about the famed Leadville 100 mile foot race—I once again muttered “I could never do that.”  Actually, I think the thought was more like “that’s @#$%ing insane!”  But whatever.
What the average guy set out to do was get fit and have fun doing an endurance event.  I didn’t set out to just tick off a bunch of events.  I didn’t set out to set PRs.  I didn’t set out to become a pro racer.  The key was getting fit.  I knew to pull off my goals I’d have to change my lifestyle.  I knew by investing in the entry fees and a nice bike and in the time to train that I would feel the pressure to succeed that I couldn’t slap on myself otherwise.
Unfortunately I sort of proved that you can be mediocre and finish.  I also proved to myself that I wasn’t happy with just finishing.  Maybe my dissatisfaction was related to the realization that I could sort of fake it.  With enough mechanical advantage and fueling tricks you can finish a hundred mile mountain bike race.  So the challenge didn’t take me far enough.
Remember I said the Kentucky Century Challenge lived up to its name for me this year?  That’s because I was completely unprepared for it.  I suffered through the Preservation Pedal and the Hub City Tour.  The Redbud Ride wasn’t a piece of cake either, despite my completing it on my cargo bike just for kicks.   
I even felt somewhat soft on the Mohican despite finishing it.  My time was wretched.  It was more than two hours slower than the (sort of) comparable Alpine Odyssey. 
I was happy with my Rugged Red time, but I won’t be satisfied with that pace ever again.  I know I can run faster.
Yeah, suddenly the numbers matter again, but only as an indicator of my progress.  Like I said a few posts ago, I don’t need to pay someone to hand me snacks.  I can go out and do a run for myself and see the progress I want to see.
The difference comes in ultras.  I honestly don’t think I can do a hundred mile trail run outside of an event without employing most of my inner circle of friends and promising them things I may not be able to deliver.  If I ever want to do a one hundred mile foot race I need to aim at an event.  Leadville automatically leaps to mind.  Cloudsplitter is there as well, as my home state’s first hundred mile ultra.  There’s the Mohican.  And there are others.  But Leadville and Cloudsplitter are paramount.  Cloudsplitter makes the most sense.  Leadville is a continuation of the saga I’ve started and am already in the process of chronicling.  To take that path makes sense in that it will lead into a logical sequel to my first book.
Hey, I gotta feed my family man!
I’ve never made the true mental change I need to make.  I’ve faked my way along to this point.  Somehow I have to find the will to flip the switch in my brain.  I have to stop being lazy when it comes to (everything) training and nutrition.  I have to stop taking the easy path.  It’s internal, all of it, every obstacle and patch of friction. 
Regardless of whether I ever run another organized race in my life this is a change I want to make.  I’m forty years old with the health habits of an eleven year old.  I need to be a better example for my family.  I need to be better support for them in their own health and wellness.  I’m smart, and I know what good habits are.  I just don’t have them.  If not now, then when?


  1. This hits home a little too close! I'm in the same boat. I fake my way from event to event - it's time to make it real! I'm actually getting ready to start training for my first ultramarathon (50k), and have been struggling with the same challenges you are: lazy in some very important aspects of being fit and healthy.

    Do you have a plan? Steps you're going to take to change your life?

    1. Food is really my weakness. I'm an impulsive eater. I have a fast metabolism so it takes a lot to keep me going. The combination means I rarely stop when I've had enough.

      I need to come up with a plan to trick myself into eating right. That's the plan right now.