Monday, January 17, 2011

5 more months

I'm in an in-between time where race day seems pretty far away and right around the corner all at the same time. Every time the workout ends up in the cellar, well, the summer seems far off. Hey, it's only mid-January after all. Most years I'm just getting started. I'm just doing adaptation workouts to get ready to train for real. However this year I'm almost to the "build phase" of training, which is when the real effort starts. Wow, building already. There's not much time left. Am I really ready? Will I be ready?

I've had some real doubts about my ability to get it done. It's pretty hard to imagine being significantly faster at 45 than I have ever been in my life. When taken event by event I am not faster. I've run faster; there was a time when I could run miles under 5:00min. I've ridden faster; there was a time when I could average more than 26 mph for a 10mile time trial. The one exception may be my swim which is marginally improved. So I need to focus on the following truthes: it's not about running sub 5min miles, it's about running 7:40/mile for over 3 hours after riding 112. It's not about riding 26mph for 23 minutes, but rather 21mph for over 5 hours. And while there is some hope in the fact that the race is not about how fast you can go, but rather how long you can go, I still have doubts. It's just difficult to wrap your head around the effort when it's 18 degrees out and you're riding in the cellar wishing you were riding anywhere but there!

And then there's the cost, though this really falls under a different heading. This is an expensive venture no matter how you slice it, expensive enough that at some point you have to seriously reconsider the "value" of a personal quest. I have one last thing to prove to myself, so it's still full throttle ahead, but this time around, win, lose, or draw, it'll be time to reconsider the future. I can't see myself leaving the sport, but to be honest I do not really like the direction. At the forefront is the M-Dot thing. In so many ways they set the tone that this is an activity for the privileged: if you've got the money you can buy a spot in a race! There's the equipment: "entry level" bikes now cost $2K. The upper limit is well...mostly undefined. Take a $5k bike add electronic shifting, an SRM power meter, some top end wheels and before you you know it your bicycle costs more than a car, a NEW car. And then there is the training: monthly personal training plans frequently cost more than monthly car payments. I do see the value in it for many people, especially beyond the value of high end carbon fiber toys. I question the ongoing value for me. I've got two young children who one day will no longer be young and will (hopefully) want to go to college. Top colleges already cost $60k+ per year in tuition. What will that be in 11 years when Alexandra wants to go? When we decided to become parents that was a statement that we were prepared to no longer have things be all about us. The kids and their future are the primary concern. The amount of money going into this Coeur D'Alene adventure alone would make a nice 529 plan contribution.

Which brings me around to my doubts. I'm beginning to think that there is more than a little element of guilt in here. I've committed to seeing this through, as planned, for the next 5 months but then maybe it is time to move forwards. Athletics is part of my legacy so I expect to stay involved, but in a somewhat different manner. I think M-Dot branded racing is done. After all I could probably prepay Pumpkinman, a wonderful independently run race in Maine, for the next 5 years for what this trip to Idaho will cost. And you know, I suspect the kids won't care if we race only local and shorter events. They may well prefer it, after all we could do more. That's more medals and trophies for Daddy to give them! I'm probably done getting coached as well. It is a means to an end, so once I've ended... Maybe I'll finally "retire" to that dream job as a Bill Bowerman-esque track/x-country coach. Or maybe I'll focus on community family fitness. I've long considered the possibilities presented by the very nice track and field facility we have here in Middletown. Or maybe I'll finally buy that open water single and simply return to rowing.