I’ve never been bitten by the racing bug but am always interested in new challenges in the form of new, big, or original adventures. The key word, to me, is “adventure”. When I rethink my year, whether it was adventurous is important to me. It doesn’t need to be anything extreme, unsafe, or expensive – I just want to make sure I explore something new, challenge my comfort limits, and create a physically and mentally happy lifestyle.
2013 was the first year I really set a few big goals for myself and I came up with three diverse goals. They were:
- Ride “Boston to Bristol” – a double century (200mi) ride from just outside of Boston to my parents house in Bristol, ME.
- Run a sub-4:20 road Marathon
- Run a sub-20 minute 5k
Each takes completely different training and preparation but I wanted some diversity. I wanted them to be be a solid reach but attainable if I log the hours. In the end, I completed two of them… the third will have to carry over into 2014.
“Boston to Bristol” Double Century
June 2013. I’ve had the idea of doing this for years… just didn’t think I’d end up doing it solo. It was a surprising amount of fun.
Summary: The ride was a blast. I’ve never spent so much time on the bike in one shot but experienced some gorgeous scenery, discovered some gorgeous roads, and proved to myself that “200” is just another number.
I woke up around 4:30 am to get out the door early and since I couldn’t sleep, anyway. I stuffed my jersey full of a dozen Clif Bloks (Margarita flavor, please) and Nuun electrolyte tablets (Which I discovered and fell in love with this year). I also brought a small, portable charger since the Garmin 800 only lasts about 100 miles when doing turn-by-turn directions. I headed out the door and was on my way through beautiful, warm spring weather . I have the Garmin set to auto-lap every five miles, so instead of watching the clock tick up to 200, I just displayed the laps. Mentally it seems less daunting to just do “40 laps” instead of 200 miles.
Out of the gate I worked to fight the excitement and keep the pace slow (<16 mph), knowing I had a long day ahead. I consciously ate a pack of Clif Bloks every hour and tried to drink a large water bottle every 45 minutes. I ended up buying and carrying a 3rd water bottle in my jersey to avoid stopping and and give me extra coverage between some of the long stretches of road.
The roads were awesome, the weather gorgeous, the bike ran flawlessly… all perfect. I didn’t chat with people too much but they always got a laugh when I told them where I had started my ride. I rolled into my parents house around 7pm – 14 hours later, 12 of which were moving. Some of my more memorable moments include…
- Some of the gorgeous roads in northern MA
- Crossing into NH
- Hitting Exeter, NH – the first area I recognized.
- Crossing into ME
- Dodging broken glass and trash in Old Orchard Beach, ME.
- Google taking me down a very sketchy, pot-holed, dueling-banjos dirt road.
- Hitting the first roads I recognized in Portland, ME.
- Catching and passing some Bowdoin cyclists… after 160 miles. 🙂
- Hitting the home stretch in Newcastle into Damariscotta
- Thinking “I’ll be content without the last 2.8 miles” around mile 195.
- Being done.
Lessons for next time (yes, I’d definitely do it again!): Bring protein (a dozen Clif Bloks was too much sugar), bring a small bike cable lock, take more pictures, do some more research on roads (avoid unmaintained dirt roads), avoid Business Rt. 1 in Maine (it’s loud)… and bring a buddy!
October 2013. This was a lot of fun. There were some challenges along the way but I definitely enjoy the long distance runs.
Not too much of a story here as it’s a pretty standard marathon.
Biggest drag was that the hotel room was loud as it was overlooking the Portland bars, and they managed to mess up their breakfast schedule so I wasn’t able to get any calories before the race. I was able to make some up with consciously drinking Gatorade at every water stop but definitely would like more food to offset the calorie deficit.
I held a pretty flat 8:30 pace for the first 18 miles or so… they my stomach revolted. I stopped long enough for the lead to return to my legs and wasn’t able to get my momentum back. My pace fell dramatically and I had hit a wall. The calorie deficit had caught up. The last three miles were tiring but overall, the race wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Everyone on Facebook talks about marathons being a monumental milestone in their life. I didn’t get that sense of satisfaction or accomplishment. Maybe that’s a reflection of the company I keep – tough to be proud of “just” a marathon when you have friends setting race records, completing multi-day adventure races, and crushing Ironman triathlons.
Even if that Facebook-worthy pride was missing, I did enjoy the long distance run. I’d like to try a longer run (preferably dirt) to see if 50k or 50 miles feels appropriately difficult.
Lesson for next time: Bring my own food!
This is proving harder than I anticipated.
Long story short: I didn’t pull this one off this year – and without any speed workout, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to. My plan is to add one speed-workout per week in the spring to see what impact that can have on my pace and take it from there. I should be able to do it, I just need to adjust my training. I’ve always been slow and steady – but speed is a foreign territory. We’ll see…
Another failed attempt at a winter Presidential Traverse (below), this time due to high winds and very low visibility.
Getting photobombed on the bike:
I’ve been telling myself to do it for a few months but I need to add a core workout and a speed workout to the weekly mix. For adventure goals, however, I’m considering the following ideas;
- Continue chasing a sub-20 5k (run)
- Complete 50k Ultra Trail Race (run)
- Complete Presidential Traverse (hike/run)
- Complete Mt. Washington Hill Climb (bike)
- Summit Mt. Wachusett 61 times (bike – I have 39 down)
What else should I consider adding to the list?