By Coach Robbie
One night in early December I was up with our 5 month old, Hayden, at about 2am. This was a month where he flat out refused to sleep through the night, so both Allie and I were running on fumes.
I remember laying there with him thinking…. “Come on….. PLEASE go to sleep I have a trainer ride in the morning and I want to have the energy for it……” Pathetic. My “goal” race at the time was more than 6 months away and here I was stressed about a workout where I would literally sit on my bike, alone, and not go anywhere. It was sad then, but comical to think about now.
Later that day I read this blog post from a man a greatly respect named Gordo Byrn. The title is pretty self explanatory “Who sees my best self.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks and I encourage you to read it, especially if you are a parent or in any type of meaningful relationship. I was able to relate to every word and this phrase in particular changed my whole thought process, “The only place you could find my best self was training for triathlon.”
For an athlete like myself that not only trains by himself, but also coaches himself that meant that the only person who saw my “best self” was me. I did not have a coach on deck, or other regular training partners to share it with. It was just….. me.
I wanted that to change, so I sat down and began to make a list of how I could grow and stretch myself both physically and emotionally all while ensuring that both Allie and Hayden were the ones seeing my best self, or even better, they were participating in as many of those moments with me.
Trainer rides, long rides on the weekend by myself, hours and hours staring at the black-line in the pool just did not fit. What did fit was running.
Running met every single criteria for how I wanted to grow and evolve in 2017, not only as an athlete but as a person. It is something that Allie and I can do together, and that Hayden can participate in as well as I push him in his fancy little jogging stroller. It meant for the most part, I did not have to choose. Stay home with my family, or leave alone to push the limits of my abilities.
Now, it was time to find not just a running race but an “experience.” Something that was more about “us” than it was for “me.”
There are many things I love about triathlon but the loneliness of racing and the inability to share that experience while you are actually in it has always bothered me. You are required to cross the finish line alone at an Ironman or you will receive a DQ.
“I think I am going to enter the Leadville 100 Trail Run,” I said to Allie.
I was shocked at how pumped she was for me to do it. It also meant it was time to “break-up” with triathlon for 2017. Like a lot of relationship enders it is more of a “its not you, its me,” break-up for now.
I am sure I will come back to triathlon but not willing to say when. For now, I am going to immerse myself into this journey. I will have my wife and 2 best friends with me in Leadville to help pace me the last 50 miles. I will have them all with me, Hayden included, for the last mile and I honestly cannot think of a better way to end an experience,race or journey.
I have learned A LOT in just the last 6 weeks. I have talked to some past LT100 finishers, read a lot, studied the course, etc. First and foremost, I made the most important decisions when choosing to run an ultra. I bought a trucker hat, a life-time supply of Tailwind nutrition, and dusted off my compression socks to wear on every long run. :). Kidding, but you know its true.
I am sure some will think that the altitude and mountains will just spit me out and laugh at me and that I have no business attempting this with such little experience. I think that’s probably a valid thought. While I do not have “ultra” or loads of trail running experience I do have a lifetime of experience when it comes to suffering both physically, mentally and even emotionally.
Most importantly, I know what it is like to persevere and succeed amidst turmoil and seemingly impossible circumstances. I might be naive but I feel like I am well suited for the demands of ultra racing. We will find out in August when I line up for the hardest race of my life just how suited I really am. But for now, I’m just enjoying the journey and I hope no matter what you are preparing for, you are too.