I am a master lyric screwer-upper, and I often mentally invert those lyrics from U2's song I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight to sing in my mind: it's a hill, not a mountain, as I start up the climb.
Which is a good thing, considering my next challenge: the Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon. Let me save you from clicking on the link and give you the basics:
Mt. Taylor=11,301 feet high, in Northern New Mexico
Winter=February 19. 2011
Quadrathlon=bike, run, cross-country ski, snowshoe. If you're quadding on Mt. Taylor, you do those four things to the summit--21 miles one-way--then turn around and head right back down, doing them in reverse order.
A little background, so you don't think I'm totally crazy. I used to live in Santa Fe, and had heard from a couple people about this race: it's unique, it's well-run, it's a shot of inspiration during the season it's easy to hibernate through. So when an editor at Runner's World asked for pitches for winter races, I immediately thought: quadrathlon. I pitched it with the specifics, but didn't really digest what biking uphill for 13 miles, then running uphill for 5, then skiing for 2 and snowshoeing for 1, then flipping around and heading down would feel like. Or how long it would take.
She said yes, and I said yes! And then I looked into the race results from last year. The female winners come in around four-and-a-half hours. The rest of my 35-40 age group? Well, there were six of them total--it's not exactly a race for the masses--and two were in the 5.5 hour range, one was around 7 hours, and one was around 8. 5 hours. Which, by my calculation, is a full day of hilling/mountaining.
Once I realized the severity of my commitment, I decided to approach it this way: I'll do my best to do my best. I'll train hard, but I'm only training five days a week. Despite the results being published in a national magazine (in February 2012), I'm going to remove my ego from the situation. I'm confident I'm going to see that finish line, one way or another, and that, for a race like this, is good enough.
As freaked as I am, I'm also excited for a few reasons:
1. Uphill is good for form changes in running. Short steps, strong arms, slight forward lean. When Christopher McDougall wrote about changing his form in Born to Run, he started with a lot of hill work. So I've got that going for me.
2. The cross-training is going to be interesting--at least once I figure out how to skate-ski--and good for my bod. After my last injury, I realize, from here on out, I can run 3 days a week, max. The other activities will compliment my running, and, I'm hoping, only make me a better runner.
3. If I'm pressed to name an athletic strength, it's my overall strength. While the length of this race might do me in, the disciplines--and their requirements for strong quads and glutes and core--are right up my alley.
4. I can't hibernate. I'll be skiing on some Saturdays (got that, weatherwoman? snow please! no more 75 degree days!) I I hope to enter a snowshoe race, I'll be figuring out how to stay warm on the bike in the winter. While I'm not totally gung-ho about these aspects yet, I'm on board because they're necessary means to an end. And I need a goal. I haven't trained with purpose for almost 9 months, and it's time to get some focus back.
5. Finally, I've roped in my good pal Marit to train with me. She's a mom to an almost one-year-old and lives in Park City, Utah, so we'll just be comparing notes via e-mail, but we've trained virtually together before (in that other, pre-kid life) and met up for a triathlon and had a ball. I'm expecting no less from this round.
As bad as I am at lyrics--blinded by the light, wrapped up like a douche you know that runner in the night--I'm equally as bad as studying race course profiles. Pre-race, I figure, why freak out? I'm gonna be out there anyway, and I'll get this thing done. So at least for the next 6 weeks, it's all about just feeling fit and strong again, and just telling myself, despite what Bono says, it's a hill, not a mountain.
Anybody else on board for the Mt. Taylor Quad? Or a more sane winter race?