Challenge Cancelled

I couldn’t believe it when I first read the email. I thought for sure it was a joke or a mistake. Then I found the website was down, others were getting the same email. No Pocono Endurance Challenge. So what?

This little endeavor all started Memorial Day Weekend, but even before that I had begun the process of pulling myself from slothdom. I had already started to run – or at least trying to. But I never would have pushed myself this hard, at least I don’t think I would have. There wouldn’t have been the urgency. And I knew that I would need to have additional goals once the Challenge was complete in order to maintain this level of intensity. But that was a future worry, and I was already targeting events for next year based on benchmarks I wanted to obtain. So these are still there. And I knew a couple of weeks ago, it had stopped being about the Challenge. I was pushing myself against my own limits, constantly trying to beat personal bests. Go further, go faster, go harder. Steeper hills, longer inclines, longer workouts.

But when I got the email, I felt as though someone had kicked me in the gut. For a few minutes, the whole purpose of the last couple of months evaporated. There would be no proving ground. I was stunned. In a blink, my weekend plans changed – no point in renting a kayak now. My immediate plans changed – didn’t need to buy extra stuff for the bike like a handlebar bag, bike gloves and some kind of flat fixer in a can. I was floundering. Now what? The first instinct was to find another event to immediately fill the void. Another challenge, something comparable.

I thought about this a lot when I was running this morning. This morning I had one of those runs that make you go out and run again. It was hard enough to feel as though I accomplished something, but not an agony. It was… very enjoyable. And this hasn’t been about the Challenge for a long time now. And it has been all about it. The point of the Challenge was to prove to myself that I could go twenty seven and a half miles. That I could do that and not die. So that remains in the air, waiting to be proven. But I don’t know that I need to prove it right away. The challenges that I’m most attracted to include open water swimming. I am not an accomplished swimmer. And I am afraid of swimming long distances in open water. So that is reason enough, in my mind, to take it on. I’m just scared. Scared of floundering and making an ass out of myself in the water. Scared that I will do so abysmally, I’ll be humiliated. Scared that I won’t even finish. Scared. I thought about all of this while I was running, and as I was closing in on six miles for the first time, I realized that I don’t want to drop myself into something that I can’t adequately prepare. There are open water triathlons in my future, but they may not be this fall. And I don’t have to immediately fill the void. Since this is a lifetime journey, I – hopefully – have some time. For today, I am going to drop myself into the pool and see how far I can swim.

I was going to do a check in once the Challenge was finished – and I guess for all intents and purposes it is finished- this is where I am now:

To date I have lost ten pounds and two inches around my middle. My personal running best is six miles, just accomplished this morning. My longest bike ride remains seventeen miles, but I am hoping to go past that this weekend. In the past ten weeks I have definitely gotten a lot stronger, and faster. And HOLY SHIT I ran six miles this morning!!!!! And I have no intention of quitting. Sing it Tom!

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