Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Countdown to 40

As I write this my 40th birthday is 701 days away. That works out to a nice round 100 weeks. I am totally fine with this impending milestone, don’t get me wrong. I’m not afraid of a little number like 40. On the contrary, I think most of us get better as we age, and I want to celebrate this milestone with gusto! I think a big birthday can be something to look forward to (even if you’re over 25), especially if you set out to take on a big challenge to mark the occasion. Which brings me to the point of this post….I need an ambitious goal to work to work toward for the next 100 weeks!

I can hear the voices of my friends and family now…..and let me respond to their inevitable comments before I go on…No…I can’t be satisfied with a relaxing, self-indulgent trip to the Caribbean or Hawaii. How boring is that?? I’d rather work toward something really daunting and then celebrate the triumph and bask in the glory (possibly while enjoying a relaxing, self-indulgent trip to the Caribbean or Hawaii)…..

I’ve run 3 marathons so far along with a bunch of Halfs, 10Ks, and 5Ks, and nothing…NOTHING compares to the sheer thrill of running the first marathon in Amsterdam in 2007. A lot of the excitement came from uncertainty that I could even finish the thing, let alone the exhilaration of travelling to another country and lining up to start the event in the Olympic Stadium along with thousands of screaming runners.

I’ve found it’s pretty much impossible to recreate that buzz. Once you know you can do something it loses a lot of its appeal. I’ve tried to keep things interesting by constantly trying to improve my performance, but it’s just not the same. I can’t seem to replicate that sensation I had starting that first marathon.

So like any junkie in seek of a new high, I am on a mission to find a big challenge for 2013.

The first thing that came to mind when I started brainstorming was to train for an Ultra-Marathon. For those of you who don’t follow running that much, an Ultra is any distance over the ‘official’ Marathon distance of 26.2 miles (42.2 km). Some common Ultra distances are 50K, 50 miles, 100K, and 100 miles. On the pros side, I know I like running and I wouldn’t have to buy a lot of extra gear (other than a lot more pairs of shoes). There are also lots of events locally, so I wouldn’t necessarily have to travel across the world (unless I wanted to). On the CONS, side, is the time commitment. Training for a 50 mile race, for example, would very likely involve at least 5 months of focused training for 8-10 hours a week (not to mention all of the massage therapy I’d need!). There would probably be a lot more wear and tear and I’m sure I’d end up with more aches and pains in the usual areas (knees, feet, hips). Would I get bored during an event that involved doing one thing for 12-15 hours straight?? Dunno.

Another idea I had was the Ironman. I’ve already done a Sprint Triathlon (about a hundred years ago) so I have SOME experience biking and swimming. The good thing about doing an Ironman is that I’d at least have some variety in my schedule. I wouldn’t have to be on my feet as much as if I trained for an Ultra, and from an overall fitness point of view, it would be good to round out the lower-body focused running & biking with the more upper-body focused swimming. On the negative side…I would have to spend quite a bit of money buying gear (bike & accessories, bike rack, wetsuit, etc). I also know that it would be a lot harder to coordinate my schedule around all of those different workouts (sometimes 2 or 3 a day). And swimming and biking are SO much more complicated in my mind than running. Living in downtown Vancouver, I’d probably have to drive somewhere with my bike in order to get some open road. Going to the pool is so annoying too, all that changing and drying off. Super complicated.

I am still looking for more ideas, but right now an Ironman or Ultra-Marathon are the front-runners for the big 4-0. I am super interested in hearing more ideas or comments from you! What do you think??