Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why the Leadville 100?

It’s not as if I haven’t had time to think about the answer to this question.

Every morning for 10 months when the alarm went off at 4 am I had the opportunity to think: “Why am I doing this?”

Every cold and wet weekend afternoon during the winter when Phil and I headed down to the pain cave to ride the trainers for 2 hours I had the chance to ask myself: “Why am I doing this?”

Saturday morning, as the rain pelted down and I began pre-hypothermic shivering, I certainly had good reason to ask myself: “Why am I doing this?”

The answer is: “It’s complicated.”

In part, I suppose, it’s because I can.

I am fortunate to be healthy enough to give it a try.

Also, Leadville is close enough to Denver that it is easy for us to go up and train on the course. If we decided to make the Mohican Mountain Bike 100 in Loudonville, Ohio our main event of the season, we wouldn’t have that opportunity.

After a great deal of thought, though, I think it ultimately comes down to this: the Leadville 100 MTB race is a race of personal bests – for every single person who participates.

1300 people line up at 630 in the morning, and while many share the same, “simple” goal of finishing in less than 12 hours, the reality is that there are 1300 individual goals represented on that line.

From Lance, who wanted to set a new course record (maybe finishing in under 6 hours); to Dave Wiens, who wanted to race in a way that he could be proud of – win, lose or draw; to Yuki, who wanted a top 10 / sub-7 hour finish; and finally to me, hoping to break 11 hours.

[photos courtesy of Colleen Reilly]

We all had our goals. Which were stretch objectives for each of us.

From top to bottom on the finisher list some racers achieved their goals; many more did not.

Some walked away knowing they did every last thing possible to achieve their goal, but the course beat them.
Some will be fired up to come back and try again. Others will accept their reality and move on to other pursuits.

Some racers feel defeated by the challenge faced; others feel energized and motivated.

At this moment, with only 3 days in the rear view mirror, I’m ambivalent.

I trained. I was prepared. I stuck it out when the weather and the course conditions gave me an easy excuse to quit.

I’m not as strong physically as Lance, and Dave and Rebecca Rusch (who absolutely rocked the course, by the way). But I may be as strong mentally.

I set my goal; I strived to achieve it; and I hung tough even when it became clear I wasn’t going to “win.”

So . . . “Why Leadville?”

After facing the challenges necessary to compete in that event, my determination cannot be questioned.

I have a little part of my psyche that whispers in my ear “You’re a bad ass!!”
It gives me confidence to face all manner of other challenges. I have proven that I do not crack under pressure. How great is it to know that about yourself?
Competing at Leadville gives me confidence, it tests my resolve, it challenges me physically . . . in the end, the answer is simply

“Why Not?”

1 comment:

  1. Oh, WOW!! why NOT?? indeed....let's see safety, comfort, warmth, more hours to read. Those reasons are not good enough to keep you indoors. Why clean up a cave ... in the dark ... in the cold??? As you say, we are fortunate enough to be able to pick our dragons, and either tame them or slay them. How lucky can we be??