Friday, June 16, 2006

One camp of crazy

There are lots of crazies in the world… and I’m not talking about the people who talk to themselves on the subway or the glory man who shouts for Jesus every night on my street. I’m talking about the crazies who love doing endurance events…the people who do marathons, Ironmans, 100 mile road races, 200 mile bike rides through the mountains… and all because they want to. I know about this because I am one of them. Most people would think that doing an Ironman could be considered a rare form of punishment and that no one could pay them enough to do it. Well, no one really pays us to do it. We actually pay them. There is something kind of wrong about that. We pay them around $500 to undergo 10-17 hours of physical exertion, and we get nothing in return but a safe race course, a t-shirt and a medal that says we are certifiably insane. You would think that the insanity would stop there… but it is just the beginning.

I like to do things the hard way. Most people start out running 5ks, 10ks or maybe the occasional half marathon before they ever consider doing a marathon. Then they might take the plunge and do a marathon or two or dabble in sprint distance triathlons before committing to an Olympic distance or a half-Ironman. Then a few years later, they might get the bug and think doing an Ironman is a good idea. I, however, never ran a marathon, only did 2 sprint distance triathlons and decided that I could do an Ironman… only a few months after I had sworn that Ironman athletes were crazy and the human body wasn’t meant to undergo so much physical stress. So, I did an Ironman. Then I did a marathon, which qualified me for Boston. I have done all the big things, and since I fall into a different camp of crazy… I don’t feel the need to do 2 Ironman races a year or 10 marathons a year… I did it once and know I can do it. So it’s time to throw in the towel, eat bon bons and watch reruns of Dukes of Hazard on tv, right?

I had plans for slowing down. I didn’t get into the NYC marathon this year, so I have been forced to rethink my training and racing schedule – I no longer have one. After the initial disappointment, I decided it was a good thing I wasn’t going to be racing anymore this year (after the half-Ironman I am doing next week) because my body probably needed a break (haven’t not trained for something in over 4 years) and I need to nurse my injuries (I think I might have plantar fasciitis as well as no flexibility and perpetually tight/sore neck and shoulders). That mental game plan lasted about a week until I ran across a website and a really cool race. I will never run 100 miles because after running a couple of marathons… running that much just doesn’t feel good. But I will do a 200 mile race… with my 11 best running buddies.

Imagine this… a 24+ hour, 200-mile road relay through the picturesque landscape of New Hampshire. With a team of 12 people, each person would only have to run about 16.5 miles, but not all at once. There are about 36 legs, so each person would run 3 times through the course of the race. This sounds way more fun than an Ironman or a marathon. So I emailed a bunch of my running friends to see if they would be interested, and I got a few responses of ecstatic affirmation. Unfortunately, we are too close to race day to do it this year, but I am already plotting for next year. I may even be able to convince some of my non-running friends to start running so they can do it too. How cool would it be to run 200 miles with your friends?

My roommate Jane says that I will never stop, there will always have to be something next because I can’t go from doing an Ironman and multiple marathons to nothing. I just laugh at her and tell her that I’m not going to be one of those “crazies” that does a million races a year. But maybe I should have started out smaller rather than conquering two of the biggest endurance events in the world. It doesn’t leave me much to go after… or so one might think. In a way, Jane is right. There will always be something next. I don’t know what it will be, but right now I think it will be 200 miles in New Hampshire. Who’s in?

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