Along the Way to Realizing the
It's certain now. I am racing at the Quelle Challenge Roth. For
the longest time this was anything but a sure thing, but I kept
training as if it were really going to happen&emdash;as if I were
really going to cross both my nation and the Atlantic to get to this
Now that the arrangements are all set, the reality of it all is
settling in. Like many of my fellow athletes, I'm sure, I'm both
completely terrified and exhilarated. Sometimes I am both of these
things at the same time. Mostly, I'm still in shock and probably will
be until I step off the plane and into hugs from my friends.
I thought I'd start by sharing some lessons I have learned about
really-long-distance endurance training. (As Roth will be my first
time at an iron-distance race, some of these observations were
brand-new to me; perhaps some iron-vets will also see the humor in
Things I have learned:
- Although you may have shunned it for decades, you will come to
love and appreciate bacon. It has salt, it has fat, it has
*flavor*. It crunches. It's got to have some protein, thereby
making it an acceptable "recovery food."
- You will think you could never be so tired, and then you will
get more tired. Surprisingly, you will continue to function
despite your deep desire to lie down motionless for hours in a
- You will no longer think too hard about riding 100 miles on
your bike. People who do not ride will ask you if your butt hurts,
and you will be astonished to hear yourself say, "No." You will
wonder what this means about your grasp on reality in relation to
- Rest of the World: Do I just not feel my butt anymore?
- You will set out to do things you previously thought
outrageous, and that your training buddies still think is
borderline nuts&emdash;even though on some level they understand.
You will do these things. You will again begin to question your
grasp on reality: Do I just not feel anything anymore?
- At some point in your training, you will wear down your last
nerve. You will panic; you will weep; you will think you can never
surmount the challenge that is before you because, let's face it,
you are completely unprepared and, to boot, you are both a bad
athlete and person. Thankfully, this last nerve does regenerate
after it's been worn down. You'll go to bed certain it's the end
of the world and wake up thinking, as Austin Powers did after his
new bride turned out to be a Fembot, "Wait a tic. Maybe it's not
so bad after all."
This is the story of my road to the Quelle Challenge Roth, a race
I have dreamed of doing for years. I'm now in my seventh year of
triathlon, and the iron-distance has always loomed as a major goal in
my mind. I have built my training slowly&emdash;as my doctor would
say, "You're a slow learner." This makes me either somewhat prepared
or just as deluded as the next person, or probably a little of both.
I hope you enjoy this slow learner's progress to the start line of
the historic, storied course that awaits me in Roth.