Sometimes it requires going back in order to move forward, right?
In my last few blog posts I expressed how I was playing in other athletic arenas (outside of my beloved ultra & trail running.) In fact- I spent all last year doing CrossFit, learning how to mountain bike and just for FUN tried my hand at adventure race and MTB race. My reasoning to redirect was that 1) my body needed physical changes of increasing strength & lessening impact 2) I was over the top busy with work projects and training time was very limited 3) I wanted space to explore other endurance sports tribes and expand my circle of human connection. Training and fitness wise I felt last years plan of ‘going back to build a better foundation’ would serve me in the long run. My underlying fear however was to never get back my ultra game.
This January, as I assessed my fitness level and explored 2018 goals, I felt satisfaction in terms of strength gains, expanding my circle and in learning new sports skills. However, I deeply missed that long-distance endurance experience. Prior I had taken for granted how my long solo training time allowed for such deep thought, heathy emotional process and rich connection to the outdoors. Pulling me back to my roots, was also the like minded human family of endurance athletes, both from my past and my undiscovered future self. So in planning my 2018 races I knew I needed to circle back and bring that endurance state of mind back into my life. That would now require not only a new training plan, more time available for training but most critical I had to reignite the internal fire within.
Strategy and planning commenced, but before I got too far down the racing rabbit hole it dawned on me that this year I will become 49! More alarmingly then I quickly concluded that next year I will turn 50!!! I am never one to judge age as a limitation or even see birthdays as anything very serious but honestly I had an immediate guttural reaction. In fact I had a hot flash thinking about my life’s midpoint. Was that my fire within? I immediately pivoted this action plan towards the epic starting line of my 50th birthday. Visualizing my Summer of 2019, I then worked backwards to today. This was the only way I would be fully satisfied by undertaking my next 18 months for full focused training effort, huge time investment and the upcoming highs and lows I would surely move through. Having one ultimate macro goal would feed all the other micro goals and keep me both grounded and inspired. Now my true goal was to become my fittest possible 50 year old self and then leverage that fitness to expand my life’s purpose while toeing an unidentified start line at and unknown epic race in 2019. The 150 mile Desert Rats stage race, 70.3 mile Ironman, 100 mile mountain bike adventure I have already planned for 2018 now took on new meaning. Like adventure path stepping stones- those training events are now waypoints along the map to me turning Sam5.0.
My 2018 race plan was still evolving but surely it will get me back in long- distance endurance shape. Truthfully, I am my best self with a structured training program and regular benchmark goals. I thrive with challenge and though I have yet to nail down that epic 50th birthday race I am totally FIRED UP! In fact, this week I dug out my old dusty swim stuff and survived 800 meters worth of the first swimming I’ve done in 5 years. I bought new running shoes, borrowed a road bike from a friend and took myself down memory lane to my past Central Coast Triathlon Club days. I reached out to fellow Ultra Athletes I admire for mentorship and started making room in my life and my mind for the shift. I was stoking the fire.
What I am learning, at the ripe age of 49;) is that endurance sports and the lifestyle it builds around you can not be replaced. It doesn’t matter what kind of endurance sport athlete you are, once you experience that feeling, taste, smell, sound of what it’s like to self propel your body through the world you are forever changed. Endurance athletes cross endless miles of roads, water, mountains and the sky all on our own personal power. Dreaming bigger, doing the hard work and then breaking thru society and self limitations to a finish line is surely the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done for myself. It is a state of mind that connects you to your body, your authentic sense of self worth and your environment in a massively powerful way.
So while I start to slowly build back up my endurance and, in some ways am back at square one with some athletic skills, I am not upset. In fact I realized I did not go backwards at all. Instead I took a huge leap forward in relationship to my mental game, my spiritual connection and my relentless passion for endurance. I had thought I was looking back over all the ground I’d lost, but instead I was actually looking at my own reflection. Right there staring back at me was a proud 49 year old face aged with profound appreciation and wild curiosity for this amazing gift called Endurance. The forever opening present that changed my body, my life and ultimately my entire life’s work, was surprising me yet again.
Endurance is a state of mind,
Race SLO Founder & CEO