Thoughts on the 2011 Furnace Creek 508
This morning as I got up, the day I am leaving for the Furnace Creek 508, I encountered a throbbing pain in my left ear. I had the same pain last night, but I was hopeful that it would be gone by this morning. No such luck however, and as I sat in my office later on talking to my boss, he asked me what was wrong as I winced in pain from a spasm. Long story short, he recommended an ear doctor near my office and it turns out I have an ear infection and major irritation of my larynx and inside my nose. The dry air on the plane as I write this entry is making me feel awful. I can’t wait to land and get off the airplane.
But anyway, as I sit on the airplane and think about what to write, I remember when I first started endurance training, and in particular for Ironman, how I would always have something to say in a blog entry practically on a daily basis. As time has gone on, I haven’t had much to say, especially as I have trained for the same races year after year. I guess that is because I repeat the same training patterns, routes and routines and it feels like I have already discussed everything that passes through my mind. After all, how many creative ways can you come up with to describe a 20+ hour, 200+ mile training bike ride. It gets monotonous to keep writing about that.
If it wasn’t for my children I am not sure I would be doing the race this year. They both wanted me to do the race, with the reason being that knew how much I enjoyed it last year. In a way they know me better than I know myself. My beautiful daughter was in shock early in the year when I expressed doubts about coming back. She knows though, that I love everything about major endurance events; the training, the physicality, the logistics and the camaraderie of working with a team. I do wish though that Beast Jr. was sitting here next to me as I fly across the country. I feel as though he should be part of this race and I am going to miss him very much this year. We talk about doing the race together as a team when he turns 16. I can’t think of anything better than to race with him as my partner.
My son simply likes to play and it doesn’t really matter which sport. This fall he is playing Flag Football as well as Travel Baseball. He is not so good in the former, but totally excels in the latter. This past weekend he had Flag on Saturday and didn’t get much playing time. The coach was obsessed with winning the game, even though it was quickly turning into a blow out and gave the majority of the playing time to the stronger players. This was very upsetting to Beast Jr. (to me as well), but there is really not much we can do about it. After the game, I sat down with him in our car for a while and discussed how he felt about not getting much playing time. I explained that we each have to recognize our strengths and weaknesses and also pointed out to him how in baseball he tends to play the entire games when the there are other kids who sit out for significant time. My point to him was that he needs to recognize that he can’t be good in everything, but if he wants to get better (and get more playing time), he is going to need to focus on practice, training and preparation. He also needs to make sure he is part of the team, even though he is not on the field, and needs to root and cheer for his team all the time. He understands, but it is still a tough pill to swallow. I also explained to him if he wants to get 100 percent playing time, then he should concentrate on endurance athletics, as the only person that he is accountable to in those sports is himself. Beast Jr. is a much better athlete than I was as a kid and I so admire his heart for sport.
I know I talk about Beast Jr. quite often, but I must also say that I am very proud of my daughter. Early this year, during the winter, I sort of coerced her into joining the local youth track club. She wailed and complained about it at first, but I think deep down, once she got going she enjoyed it. Since that time she started High School and joined the schools track team. She hasn’t been to any meets yet and says how the workout they are giving her is so much easier compared to what she was used to doing. She is looking forward to her first meet and trains with the school team four days per week after school, without a word of complaint. Just to give the full picture, after practice is over she first has to take the NYC Subway for the hour long ride home and then start on her homework. I love her so much and am so very proud of her. She smiles as me when I talk about doing Ironman with her in just 4 years, but I think she will do it.
Getting back to the FC508, I am doing it this year for several reasons. Probably none of them make much sense, but here they are in bullet point format:
- I do not want to be a onetime wonder. I know I did it once, but do I have what it takes to do it again? This I need to find out.
- I want to be a role model for my children. To prove to them that you can do anything that you set your mind to.
- That glorious feeling of accomplishment. My mind fought me this year, but I fought back. Someone tweeted a Mohammed Ali quote that said something to the effect that he hated every second of training, but there was nothing in the world like the victorious feeling he had after he accomplished his goal. I crave that feeling.
- Endurance sports are what I do. It is my lifestyle. I wouldn’t be who I am if I did not continue with ever increasing or challenging goals.
- Deep down, I know I am going to have a blast once the day arrives.
It is too early to start thinking about next year, but if you asked me today, I will probably take a pass on next year. My children have been asking to go back to Ironman Lake Placid and I signed up for it this past summer. If I could put a two man team together, I think the likelihood of me being back in 2012 would be much better, especially if my teammate is a local person with whom I would train. All of this though is too early to be discussing, as I still have the glorious task of finishing this year’s race.