There are hills and there are mountains. I'll start with the obvious, and then work my way into a sweet metaphor. Ok, so yesterday was 'race course preview day' for a couple training friends and I. A week from today we tackle the American Zofingen long course duathlon in New Paltz, NY. From everything I've heard, both from the website and from people who have raced and trained in that area, this is a kick ass race. Full of great climbs on the bike and technical trails on the run. All in all, a great way to spend a sufffering Sunday.
So we traveled up to New Paltz yesterday to get a feel for the course. Now, I really haven't done much racing and/or training outside of Long Island in my short career in endurance sports, so I'm not sure what to expect as we make the 2hr and change ride up. WOW! That's really all I can say! As we came into town and over to our race site, the only thing I could think as I drove up the massive 'hills' (more like mountains!) was, "Holy sh*t, I'm gonna ride my bike for 84 miles on this?!? What have I gotten myself into?"
The temperature was pretty cool as we pulled into the parkinglot at the trailhead of the run-probably about 42 degrees. Of course I brought the shortest pair of running shorts I own, as well just a t-shirt, so saying I was chilled is an understatement. Anyway, ran one loop of the 5 mile run course. During the race, we will run this loop 4 times total, once before the bike and 3 times after. It was beautiful to say the least. plenty of singletrack, wonderful sights, and just overall peacefullness. While running the only thing I could think was that I never wanted to leave that place. Unbelievable.
So after getting 'lost' for a bit on the trail (and compiling more like 7 miles rather than five-all the while taking in some gorgeous views) we got back to the lot and got the bike stuff ready. Ok, back to the hills and mountains thing. I learned yesterday that Long Island is absolutely FLAT AS A PANCAKE! Yeah there are some pimples we call hills, but nothing at all like New Paltz. These are frickin' mountains! We talking climbs that go on for miles and miles. I love it!!!! It's so amazing to get to the top of a climb, your quads burning, lungs screaming, sweat pouring down your nose, and see the wonderful view from the top. All that work getting to the top to be rewarded by the view...that's really all I needed. Simple. Gorgeous. What more could you ask for?
All in all we did one loop of each course. On race day it will one loop of the run, three of the bike (84 mi), and then another three loops of the run (15 mi). I'm scared but pumped at the same time.
On another note, I'm definately using my new Specialized Tarmac road bike for the race. Riding my tri bike was a little scary on the decents. I'm sure it's a little faster, but I just don't have the control I'd like to at 50mph. I think it's important to finish the race with clean shorts and in one piece.
Now back to the metaphor. On the bike yesterday I had a lot of time to think about hills and mountains and life. The obvious would be that hills and moutains represent obstacles in our lives. Hills being the small, easy to overcome problems that arise-Mountains being the large, seemingly impossible problems. But I think there's something deeper here. For this race, I've trained in the hills. Sure I've busted my ass, sweating and grunting my way up in the beginning, only to conquer what I onced feard (the hills that is). The mountains have given me a new purpose and a new drive. I'm not intimidated by them, just calmly interested in their pursuit. The hairs on the back of my neck are up, my senses are hightened, and I'm ready for the fight. The mountains look to me now like the hills once did-scary, painful, and almost undoable. But I've conquered the hills. They've beat me down, but each time I've come back for more. I continue to show up, each time knowing full well what I'm in for-but I'm still there. Mountains will become hills one day, and I'll be standing at the top.
Push 'till ya puke...Always.