Saturday, December 31, 2005

The year 2005 in review

I went for a run today, 7.1 easy miles. It was a calm, cool, overcast day...perfect for running and reflection. 2005 has been quite a year. The biggest "question" of the year has been defining who I have become. You see, if you hadn't picked up on it in previous posts, I'm turning 40 next year and I figured it's time to move out of the gray and into the black and white (for the most part). (Note: the topics covered below are only a subset. They represent those I wish to discuss in a public forum, and are therefore by no means all inclusive.)

- I'm a pretty good triathlete and journeyman runner. I'm not a bike racer anymore. Not to say I couldn't be, I just don't "want it" anymore. I enjoy races and helping friends, but the feeling of accomplishment just isn't there. Sure if I was still a great climber (I barely upgraded to adequate this year), didn't mind losing a little skin every now and then, and did nothing but train on my bike (not in the pool and not running), then I'm very sure I could still do it. The truth of the matter is that I like my skin, I enjoy my swimming and running, and I just don't love devoting all of my training hours with a bunch of type "A"s, and because of that, I can't get strong enough to finish really well. Which brings me to my next point:
- I still have ego needs in terms of beating people. I enjoy placing at races. It makes me feel special, if only for a moment, and if only in my own mind. I've found that's important, however, because the loss of that "I'm special" feeling isn't a pretty sight. As I've said before there has never been more intense moments in my life than those moments when I would realize that I was going to win a race.
- I can still run, even when not chased. I have to be much more methodical about my training, taking discipline (including the discipline to rest when needed) to a new level, because I do take longer to heal when injured. I've got the bum ankle to prove it (18 mos). And I'm now better over the longer distances than the shorter ones.
- I can swim if I put the hours in. Given that this is the one discipline where I still have a steep improvement curve ahead of me, it's time to get serious. Santa brought me the requisite training implements to help (and fill my need for toys).
- I really have become an endurance beast. I used to race A LOT on will power. I never did long runs, even when prepping for a marathon. In fact my longest run before my best marathon was 13.1 miles, at the New Bedford 1/2 Marathon. I knocked out my 7.1 miles today with relative ease despite not really running since the end of October (I have run ~6 times since the Cape Cod Marathon). This year I routinely put in 18 milers, even after 40 or so miles on my bike.
- I can only take the "it's just a job" thing so far. At some point it becomes so intrusive you can't turn it off when you get home. I don't think I need to love what I do, but I can't hate it. 2006 will bring a change.

And finally,
- I'm a Dad. This is the best. Alexandra has changed so dramatically in the last 12 months. She's not a baby anymore. She's a little girl...Daddy's little girl. Yeah, she does have me wrapped around her finger, but as I've said before, that still isn't enough to get me to do something I know I shouldn't.

I'm eagerly anticipating 2006. From a racing standpoint I have a feeling lots of things should start coming together. It looks like I'll be concentrating on 1/2 Ironman distances. I'll also be new to the 40-44 age group, so maybe I can get back to earning podium spots. I don't really have a huge goal, like Worlds, but we'll see. I think 2007 will be the year I drive for Kona. 2006 I plan to make a concerted effort to finally crack the elusive 3 hour barrier in the marathon. It would be gravy to do it at Boston, but more likely it will be a fall marathon if it is to happen.

I'm also looking forward to getting Leanna and Alexandra out to a few more races. This is more about logistics than anything, but with Alexandra only taking one nap a day now, and that in the afternoon, it is once again feasible. To this end I'm looking for races which are more spectator friendly (loop courses), have reasonable start times, and have a hotel near the course if the race itself isn't too close to home. This might be a tall order for some on the schedule, but I think I can manage it. Montreal in September anyone?

And yes, 2006 will be the year of the terrible twos for Alexandra. She's actually already given us a little foreshadowing of things to come, so I think we'll be all right. I do know it will get ugly at times, but this too will pass...

So there it is, the teenager must now be gone. It's time to become the man I'm destined to be.