There is a problem with racing RAAM. Or maybe there is a problem with me racing RAAM. That problem is, for a while following the race, I think I can do just about anything. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyhow. Anything. Case in point is the Pikes Peak Hill Climb which took place about 3 weeks after crossing the finish line in Annapolis. I thought to myself “why not?” So, I was having trouble sleeping . . . so, I was having trouble walking (it didn’t hurt to ride my bike, hip flexors were frozen in the bike position) . . . so, my internal organs hadn’t completely gone back to normal functioning. I raced RAAM, I can do it all, right? Right? RIGHT?
Let’s just say that in the first, oh I don’t know, quarter mile, I was already closing in on survival mode. Although I had a pretty good start and a pretty good finish, it was not a pain-free, piece o’ cake, ride up the side of a mountain. A big, honking, above timberline type of mountain. No air up there. Nothing but sky and snow – in July. And let’s not forget about the descent. Topping out at a weensy bit over 14,000 ft, the air is pretty scarce and trying to descend after an all out effort while your vision is a bit blurred, head is a bit loopy, and freezing body parts are dropping to the side of the road, constitutes a challenge in my book. They say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you glad you are still alive.
As the rest of the summer marched on, my RAAM hangover continued. I raced my bike a couple of times, I did a couple of Aqua-bikes (all the rage for aging triathletes who have knees and hips which are begging for mercy), I worked on updating our website, I did bunches of other stuff. I also did a bit of thinking. In spite of every great achievement any of us earns, the most important thing to realize is that we are human. Mortals. Some of us have different talents swimming in our gene pool but whatever that talent might be; it doesn’t flourish without constant nurturing, constant attention, and constant effort. I am not a special human doing ordinary things. I am an ordinary human doing mostly ordinary things with an occasional really, really cool thing thrown in there for focus. What would life be without a bit of focus? Focus on dreams and on future possibilities while remembering that it is the effort and focus that brings us ordinary mortals to the finish. And often times, that finish is pretty darn sweet.
Now, we are rolling full steam into what is left of the holidays and I see January and a brand new year just around the corner, I realize that although I may not be able to do anything I want at anytime, anywhere, anyhow, I can do SOME things I want at anytime, anywhere, and anyhow with desire. RAAM was not easy so why should anything else that I really want to achieve be easy? Pikes Peak is hard; keeping a life balance is hard. It all takes effort, time after time after time. Is it worth it to feel invincible on occasion? Oh. Yes.