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Preparations.

2 May 2016

I am in a place of trying to do a lot of things all at once and feeling a bit overwhelmed. I have to take my home in ECC off the market, I think. My sudden need to sell my home in St. Louis, and also to help with my father’s expenses, has overtaken my financial ability to handle the move and increased expenses of living in an apartment. I will have to make a lot of repairs to the house in St. Louis to sell it. There’s just no getting around it. It’ll be expensive.

But I will not be using these difficulties as an excuse to slack on my training. Because I have races to run, and I am excited to move forward on that front. This past weekend BB and I did a hard 10.6 mile trail run, with some big hills. Not as big as we’ll face Memorial Day weekend, but big. The race has about 1700′ of elevation gain. That’s 500 m for my non-American readers. It’ll be tough.

And my triathlon training has officially begun. I swam 1500 yds yesterday, and it was difficult and tiring. But I can do it. The race is 1500 m, which really probably means 1600 m because I won’t be hugging the line. I want to stay out of the crowd, so I’ll take a wider path. I bought a new bike:

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I call it the X wing. Though I kind of wish I had gotten a cheaper one at the moment, because of the sudden shift in my finances. But life isn’t predictable, and I have a nice bike. This is a fun bike to ride. It’s light (about 18 pounds, or 8 kg). It’s fast. It’s maneuverable. I really enjoy letting it out.

So I have a vague training plan. It’s annoying looking up triathlon training plans because they all seem to assume that the participant is training to go as fast as possible. I am not doing that. I’m training to finish. So I don’t need to do all the paced workouts. I just want to find something that says: if you can do this basic training plan, you’ll cross the finish line on race day. Maybe I’ll write some. and publish them. After all, I wrote our marathon training plan and it got us to the finish line at Marine Corps.

 I like being a finisher. I have naturally gotten faster as time has gone by, because training a lot to finish races naturally tunes up a person’s body, and you can sustain a higher pace for longer. But being faster has never been a primary goal. Yes, a secondary goal, but not a primary one. I like just being a finisher. I like collecting medals and experiences and being able to say: “I did this thing. It was hard, and I persevered.” My goal is to complete difficult things.

I have told BB recently, “There’s a halfway decent chance I’m going to have to do a full Ironman.” I wouldn’t be ready for a couple years, certainly. But as I start to look at what I want to complete in life, now that endurance fitness is something I have decided I care about, I am realizing that I want to go very far. I want to do things that challenge me completely. I am pretty sure I am going to do a half-Ironman in the next year or two, unless I really hate the Olympic Tri. And once I’ve done that, if I like it, just maybe I’ll go on for a full.

Being a recreational endurance athlete has come to mean something special to me. It’s deeply entwined with my sobriety, my relationship, and my personal sense of self. I work hard at hard things. There’s no shortcut to a race. You have to run until it’s over to be a finisher. I am a finisher, now, of nine half marathons, and a full marathon. I have two more half marathons on my schedule at the moment. And another full marathon. And a triathlon.

I don’t remember where I read this, but it’s true: A marathon is not 26.2 miles. A marathon is hundreds of miles, and the last day is 26.2 of them. I think this is true for anything worth doing. You have to work like hell just to get ready for it. Then you have to do it. This is very much in line with the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Step three is making a decision. Not doing. Making a decision. Making the decision to go on and work the program in your life. It’s like signing up for the race. You made a decision to go do something. Now you have to go do the thing. And to do that, you have to prepare for the thing. And now, I’ve made the decision to be in a constant state of preparation. There is always another thing to do. There’s always maintenance work. There’s always progress.

I am preparing. To run. For life.

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