Saturday, August 02, 2008

Training ... or not

Date: Aug. 2
Mileage: 32.2
August mileage: 32.2
Temperature: 54

One thing I will never understand about runners is why they like to get up so early. You have all day Saturday in which to put on a marathon, and you start the thing at 7 a.m.? That way, not only can your racers not enjoy their Friday nights, but when they do themselves a small favor by sleeping soundly until 6:40 a.m., toasting a burnt waffle for breakfast, and stumbling to the race to register three minutes before the start, you eye them with the same suspicion you would if the runner had showed up wearing stilettos? No, I say, be a sport and start your race at 10. That way, the rest of us, the normal people who sleep in on Saturdays, can at least see the finish.

I arrived at the finish line of the Frank Maier Marathon about 20 minutes after Geoff finished (and won) the race in 2:49, so I guess that would have made it about 10:10 a.m. It was embarrassing to admit that during the entire time he had spent running 26 miles, I had been sleeping ... and after telling him I planned to ride the entire course and take photos, I didn't even show up in time to see him finish. Such a slug. And to think, just a couple of weeks ago I had a fleeting moment of insanity in which I thought about entering the half marathon. But as I considered it more closely and realized that the entire distance I've run in 2008 probably didn't add up to 13 miles, I thought better of it.

So after I congratulated Geoff, I went for a quick ride up the Perseverance Trail. I met a strong rider on the climb who caught me and crushed me on the downhill. He steamrolled down stuff that I have to hold my arms out for balance just to walk down. We met up at Ebner Falls and rode back to Douglas Island together. I asked him his secret to tearing up the downhills and he said "ride a lot." We were both surprised to meet another serious mountain biker - somewhat of a rarity in Juneau - and agreed to ride together again. Yeah, new friend! His name is Terry. He took the picture of me at Ebner Falls (above.) Not a self-timed shot, I promise.

So I am at a crossroads now in which I have to decide whether to continue my carefree summer of sleeping or start more serious bicycle training again. There's this event in early October that I have latched onto, for whatever convoluted reasons I carry in my subconscious, but it's in there, and I have already started to move on these small hopes and ambitions. The race has been created with the benign label of "Trans Utah," which does nothing to convey the sinister nature of this mountain biking demon that could well become a desert classic. It's a fully self-supported multi-day race, 320 miles, about 40,000-50,000 feet of climbing, remote, with a mixture of potentially scorching desert riding and potentially frozen mountain riding. Scary! That, combined with the fact that it traverses some of the most beautiful patches of my home state, makes Trans Utah very appealing.

It also may or may not be as tough, physically, as the Iditarod, although considerably less walking should make it faster. Also, Trans Utah has a duo category that would allow me to ride and work together with Geoff, if I can talk him into it (which helps ease my anxiety about two very scary aspects of self-supported racing: Navigation and field repairs.) And should I survive it - or at least bail out at a prudent juncture, I can join the annual Grand Canyon trip with my dad.

The only drawback is that I'd have to start training. Hard. Now. Climb lots. Climb some more. Do many, many runs up the same trails just so I can spend all of my time climbing. And hope that my sea-level-acclimated lungs can somehow find oxygen at 10,000 feet. I'm torn, and feel like I'm leaning against it, but I did put in a leave request at work, and now I'm writing about it on my blog ...

What do you think? Should I do it?