Monday, August 6

The Leadville Chronicles: Final Countdown

THE TRAINING IS OVER

At this point I've either prepared enough or I haven't. Leadville is less than a week away. At 6:30am this past Saturday I was trying to ignore the blood-red alpenglow on the Gore Range behind me as I crawled up toward the crest of the Williams Mountain ridge.

At 6:30am I was cognizant of it being exactly one week until I would be shoving off the start line in Leadville toward Columbine Mine.

We had a good weekend camping at Green Mountain Reservoir with our church group. Green Mountain is at Heeney, Colorado between Silverthorne and Kremmling and just off the Tour Divide route. Mandy and I learned to fly fish at Lower Cataract Lake. Despite a deep sunburn it was worth spending all day out on the lake.



I've mostly put Leadville out of my mind. But now starts my final week of resting, carb loading and ratcheting down my mental baggage. I hope my success on Corona was no fluke. It seems as if I've been making good decisions. I know they could have been better...

I want to surprise myself. I want to amaze myself like I did when I returned from Corona Pass in under 10 hours. To do that I really would have to finish Leadville in less than 9. I gotta dig deep.


TIME ENOUGH AT LAST

I'm looking forward to the autumn with no pressing plans or training pressures. Maybe I can just have some fun with my family. We want to do some camping with the kids. We want to do some more fly fishing. Of course dreams of the Colorado Trail Race and the Tour Divide will continue to haunt me.

I'll be able to take the kids on shorter rides and not care that we're not going fast. I'll be able to go to Valmont with the family and just have a good time. Maybe I can do some rock climbing and mountaineering this fall. Maybe I can crank out some more writing. I need to focus on making the next leap in my career, in my vocation.

Regardless, Leadville won't dominate my thoughts. Or will it? I told Mandy I thought the worst case scenario for me to get free of this Leadville obsession would be if I finished between 9 and 9 and a half hours. That would make me think I could get under 9 if only I trained a little harder. Either that scenario or a DNF because of some factor out of my control. I don't know if I could let that go. I'd want to go back and finish, and finish in style. Lord, I hope I finish and in a respectable time.

I will be glad to have my life back. But for how long?


NEW HORIZONS

This Leadville journey has given me new perspective: on life, on my abilities, and on what is important to me. I didn't get into the level of fitness I wanted. But I know I can. And I know I can set some smaller—but still difficult—goals and use that to keep me moving toward better fitness and health. I have a renewed interest in being strong and able in my pursuits. It feels good to crush a steep climb, a hard boulder problem, a long run, a big peak...it just feels good. I imagine it will feel just as good to catch my first fish.

A competitive spirit has awakened in me, despite not being especially athletic or competitive previously. Where will I go in my cycling after this? I'm thinking more mountain biking for fun, more centuries in the coming years, more rides with my wife and family, more enjoyment of being on two wheels. I want to tour. I want to make the lifestyle changes that will allow us to be free to do that sort of stuff. Whether I do an organized endurance race or not, I want to do some more bikepacking, and in the minimalist style.

THE LAST DAYS

And so...I have much preparation to do in the next three days. I have to get my bike all lined out. I was disappointed that two and a half weeks ago my LBS couldn't get it in for a tuneup, but I know I can do it myself. I just wanted a professional touch.

The logistic hurdles are going to tax my patience I'm certain. My nerves are sure to start vibrating as the week wears on. I've got a lot to do and try to keep my fueling and hydrating on schedule right up to the finish.

There's not much left to say until I put my money where my mouth is. If I don't blog much before Saturday don't be alarmed, and give me a few days afterward to process and pontificate. Maybe some fluff posts will surface in the interim, but the big write up will come eventually.

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