When your goals don't scare you anymore, it's time to set new ones. Right?
For several years I have dreamed about ultra running and each year after Ironman, I have been too tired or just not motivated enough to do it. Rolling in and out of Ironman racing year after year started to bore me a little. When I set out to do an Ironman, I did it as a challenge. I did it because the unknown scared me and I wasn't sure I could even do it. Fast forward six Ironmans later, the challenge and the scare have worn off. Completely. Been there, done that...blah. I have always been an adventurous person and I definitely struggled last year mid season with motivation. I simply became bored with all of my training...with racing. Of course it is a challenge, it's 140.6 miles, but when you've done them every single year, I'm sure it's perfectly normal to get a little bored with it. I have had some long talks with coach and have made some changes for 2016. I am sad to actually say that I didn't enjoy my last Lou. I love the sport of course, but by August I was just over it. When I went into the race, I didn't feel anything. No emotion, no excitement, nothing. Just blah-- swim bike run and get through the day. That's certainly NOT why I take on challenges. The point in challenges is that they make us feel alive. The are supposed to be scary, otherwise why call it a challenge. It's hard for me to even say it out loud, but last year I did NOT enjoy my Ironman. The thrill was gone. It's hard for me to accept that because I am a triathlete and love the sport so much. So, in November after doing my first ultra, I sat down with Rich and told him how I was feeling. I was trying to decide which race to do for 2016. Should I do this Ironman, or this one??! I felt nothing when looking up races. I had no desire to even look at an Ironman race and began thinking maybe I should take the year off. WHAT??? Off from triathlon? Off from 140.6?? Coach laid it out to me simply...."there's nothing wrong in doing something different for a year" and "trying something new doesn't change your identity as a triathlete, because that IS who you are."
I listened and thought about what he said. It thought about it a lot. I couldn't stop looking up ultra races, mountain running, trail running. It gave me chills, it made me feel excitement. It scared me a little. Doing all of this started to make me feel the same way as when I first decided to tackle an Ironman in 2010. It felt really good. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. I started craving it. The harder the trail challenge, the better. I'm no stranger to trail running and racing, but I haven't raced off road since 2011. I did a trail marathon and a half marathon that year and absolutely loved it! All of it. After the 50k race I did this past November, it started a little fire inside that I just can't ignore.
So, here I am. Signing up for all the ultra run races that I can. The tougher the challenge, the more I want it. I don't want easy. Oh no. I want the ones that scare me. These are the challenges that I need, that I crave! I love Colorado and began thinking about racing there and lo and behold I stumbled on a big trail race there in Leadville in June. I talked to Rich again. A lot. About goals, dreams, passion, what I needed to do. He encouraged me to follow my heart. He always supports me and encourages me and for that I am forever grateful. I counted down the days until registration opened and once it did, I immediately hit the submit button. Gulp!
So, it's official. I am scared again!! I really like the feeling too. Leadville marathon starts at 10,200 feet altitude. WOW! Altitude isn't considered really 'high altitude' until 8,000 feet or above. When we lived and trained at 5300 feet, it wasn't very noticeable. This though is starting 10,200...eek! The race tops out at 13,200. I can't even think about it without gasping. Over the course of the race there is 6,333 of elevation gain on some pretty crazy terrain. Not only that, but the challenges that I will face with the altitude. Wow! I cannot wait though. Being a lowlander is going to make this one really tough but what a reward when the challenge is complete. Just the altitude alone will make it tough. I am training to take on this challenge now and am loving it all. This of course with an ultimate goal in mind and that is doing Mont Blanc in 2017. I've cycled the French Alps and loved Chamonix and the surrounding area, so nothing would make me happier than going back and doing the Mont Blanc marathon. It's one of my favorite places in the world!
|Leadville--How beautiful is this?!|
I am also doing some pretty tough races leading up to Leadville this summer. I will be doing Table Rock in March, Leatherwood Ultra in April and Quest for the Crest (which is a beast) in May. That one is an SUK- Straight Up Kilometer. Ouch! Then there's Leadville in June followed by a few more trail races after and then contemplating Paris Mtn Ultra in the fall. This is cool too because some of my old teammates from Rev3 are racing ultras and so we are connecting again and joining up for some of the races. Also my bestie run buddy Jessica is tackling some of these same challenges with me. How fun is that?
Since Rich and I lived and trained in Banner Elk prior to where we are now, I know the area well. We will be making many visits back there early summer so I can run the mountains and I can't wait to get back up there to the high country. Also some Stone Mtn and Brushy runs are planned. I am very excited about it all. I am still triathlon training as well mainly for the fitness of it. I need to be at my fittest when I get to Colorado. The more fit you are at altitude, the better off you will be. I'm still swimming and biking 2x weekly and now running 4x. The swimming and cycling keeps me in great shape and is also great for active recovery on tired running legs. I am also doing a strength program as well to help too. I plan to sprinkle in a few local triathlons this summer just to have some fun and perhaps even train to time trial properly this year at CCTTA Series.
I am happy and motivated again. I am not sad that I am sitting out a season from the norm. I know now it's ok to do something different. Until I feel that burning desire again in my soul to tackle 140.6, I won't force it like I did last season. I feel pretty blessed that my body lets me do all these crazy things to it. Time to mix it up, challenge myself, get scared, learn, grow and feed my soul.