Rob's Blog Archive

July 21, 2013

Scared and Excited










Late last night—I’m still a night-owl---I sat down and worked out my first cut of my plan for skijoring the Iditarod Trail.  I start out with a 42 mile day.  Hopefully I get to Yentna Station.  From there I’ll drop down to 35 miles a day for the next three days.  Given natural breaks and reasonable runs, a solid but workable schedule has me averaging 40 miles a day overall and topping out at 50.  The 50 mile days come after I’m more than half way and, hopefully, have a rhythm going.  

It all looks quite doable.  It all looks hard.  The physical difficulty of averaging 40 miles a day actually isn’t what’s intimidating me.  It’s doing 40 miles a day for two weeks, taking a day off, then doing it for another two straight weeks that has me realizing what I’m signing up for.  My body will take it.  My mind will balk first. 

And with this, my focus on getting into shape has redoubled.  While the mental part of working hard that many days in a row will be the true challenge, being in better shape will make a huge difference in where my mind goes.  Faster runs, less fatigue, and fewer sore muscles mean I’ll be able to enjoy the villages and the wilderness much more, and that will keep me going.

Right now, I’m biking three times a week and running twice.  I’m using the biking to build up multi-hour stamina and harden my upper body---another feature of riding on dirt roads and trails.  I’m running to harden my legs.  I’ll add on working out on my Nordic Track and some Taekwon-Do. 

I enjoy all of these workouts and, with each of them, I like pushing myself hard. Even recently, I’ve done two a days and these epitomize this attitude.  What I haven’t done during the last few years is had long stretches of days working out without a break.  There was one year that I worked out for 365 straight days without a miss.  That was twenty years ago. 

I do figure that if I’m going to skijor for four weeks or so with only a day or two off, I’d better get used to working out every day.  That’s how I’ll be training my mind.  My longest recent streak is only seven days and my current streak is four.  Having figured out what I’m going to have to do, I’m motivated to see how much I can extend it.  My goal is to get at least one four week streak in before summer ends. 

I remember when I moved from California to Montana.  My life changed from that of a Silicon Valley scientist to being a musher and living in a lodgepole forest with grizzly bears and wolves, not to mention winters that feature nighttime lows in the minus thirties.  While moving, I felt a little fear about my new life and very excited to be starting it.  

The same thing happened at the start of the Iditarod.  Actually, for anything like this, it builds as all the preparation takes place and hits a climax as your team heads down the start chute.  And those were the words I used at Willow that morning as friends asked me how I felt---I said I was scared and excited. 

Here’s my contention:  It’s not really an adventure unless you are at least a little scared.  The rejoinder is you shouldn’t be doing it if you’re not excited.  Skijoring the trail is about seven months off.  I’m sure it will become more intense, but even now, I am scared and excited.

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