I’m sure you know what racing is, but let me explain what cruising a race means to me. It means going to a race and running it as if you are on vacation. In other words, the finish time is not important, but the experience of doing the race is what really counts.
In my case, I got to cruise the race because I ran it with my wife and 10-year-old son who was just happy to be on the course and running. The first time around I didn’t push the pace but never-the-less gave it a pretty strong effort and finished with a time of around 55 minutes. I can’t tell you the exact time because the Bolder Boulder web site is still down as I write this.
The second time around we finished in about 1:23 running it at a very easy jog pace. Can you guess which time I enjoyed the most? I bet you can.
I really enjoyed cruising because it let me:
1) Enjoy the run with my son and wife
2) Soak up all of the sights and sounds of the race
3) Chat with other racers
4) Actually drink some much needed water
5) Thank the volunteers
6) Enjoy some fun people watching
7) Live completely within the moment
All too often I will come home from a race and only remember the pain and the disappointment of just missing some self imposed goal. Or I will come home crushed because of some technical, mental, physical, or nutritional issues that prevented me from meeting my goal. (Eight flat tires come to mind immediately from my first Iron distance experience.)
When I first started racing it was simply enough for me to finish a race. I really had no other goals but just to “Get Her Done!” Once I had completed a certain distance I just jumped to the next logical distance and tested myself against the longer yard stick. But after running several marathons and completing two Ironman races, just finishing is not enough to motivate me anymore.
Been there done that!
So over the years, I started to set time goals. But these became harder and harder to attain. They were certainly within my reach but as with anything in life the curve gets steeper as you get higher. In other words, it took more and more training, luck, preparation, and determination to meet my goals.
So I started to wonder at what expense?
How much more do I have to swim, bike, and run to drop one minute or one hour?
What else could I be doing with that time spent on the bike riding the mandatory century rides ahead of an Ironman?
The answer was lots of things.
When you think about it triathlon (especially at the Iron distance) is a pretty lonely and selfish endeavor. You spend so much time training by yourself to get ready for your one day on Everest.
And that’s fine!
But what if you’ve been to the top of the triathlon mountain several times and now you know you’ll never be the first, fastest or fittest?
That’s the question that I’ve been asking myself all of this year.
And the answer for me is straightforward:
1) Do the race as part of something bigger (for me that’s team raceAthlete, but for others it could be team in training, or run for the cure, or a friend or loved one who passed away defending this country like all of the thousands of people who ran the Bolder Boulder with that person’s name on their backs on Monday)
2) Include my family as much as possible and picking a destination race. Most importantly bookend a family vacation around the race.
3) Come down from the mountain and climb a few easier hills. Ironman Wisconsin will be my last Iron distance race for a while. That will be three Ironman races in three years. That’s plenty in both expense, and travel for me. We have heaps of great local short course races that don’t involve so much travel or entry fee money. Any race you can drive to within a few hours is a great race.
4) Cruise the race
A good friend of mine likes to say that racing wrecks his training. By this he means that he really loves training but hates racing because of all of the pressure it put on him to perform. He just loves to swim, bike and run for the fun of it.
You know to go for a bike ride simplyto feel the wind in his hair and the sun on his cheeks, instead of constantly pushing the pace.
Thank goodness for you great readers that follow my poorly edited ramblings.
And thank goodness for all of my great sponsors that motivate me with their terrific products and services. I can’t tell you what a huge smile I get on my face when I plop my big Clydesdale butt on my shinny red BMC TTO2 and head out on the open road.
So be warned folks, I’m cruising IM Wisconsin. And I’ll be doing it in comfort and style thanks to some pretty terrific training, technology, equipment, and clothing, but never-the-less I plan on cruising.
I figure that IM Wisconsin will have some great moments and I don’t want to miss a single one. I want to hear the crowds cheering, smell the open fields of our countries dairyland again, feel the sun (or rain) on my cheeks, thank the volunteers and my sponsors, and especially see my teammates tear up the course and cheer them on as they blow past me on the bike or run. I doubt I’ll be able to identify them in the pod of penguins (or is it whales) that’s the typical wetsuit swim of an Ironman.
So if are going to be in Madison in September please look for me on the bike. I’ll be the one with the cool raceAthlete jersey and the umbrella and cherry stuck in my water bottle.