This weekend I will be tackling one of the toughest challenges of my life.
For those of you who know me, your first guess of what that challenge may be is trying to talk to a female. Luckily, I already have a girlfriend and another bonus is Pam still finds me funny and enjoys my company.
Hopefully my luck holds out.
Another good guess would working on my next story for Monday’s front page of the newspaper or trying to come up with a column to make readers laugh.
As you can tell, I still struggle with that one.
The challenge I am facing this weekend is 50 kilometers of rolling hills along the gravel backroads of Iowa’s spring countryside.
Back in February when the temperature was negative - and I don’t mean my attitude about how cold it was - my friend and I signed up for the inaugural Booneville Backroads 50K.
We thought we had plenty of time to get back into shape, burn off the extra pounds we packed on that winter and even compete for a finish near the front of the competition.
But the winter’s cold grasp held tight and training long distances was a struggle. I was going crazy trying to do workouts on the treadmill and anytime spent outside was in multiple layers of clothing to combat the chilly wind.
My training never found its stride and now my race is days away and I am not where I want to be physically. It is a frustrating feeling, knowing that I had every opportunity to make myself workout, but found excuse after excuse to skip training.
I am, however, still going to lace up my racing shoes, pack a couple energy gels and hit the road Saturday morning and do my best to survive the journey.
I know it won’t be comfortable. By the 21-mile aid station, I’ll be wishing it was over instead of having 10 miles to go.
This race has taken a new purpose for me compared to when I signed up months ago. I am staying in the race not to win, but to see if I can push myself mentally and physically to reach the finish line.
It will be the farthest I have ever ran. The course will have some of the hilliest terrain I have faced.
I believe the opportunity to push myself and force my legs to keep moving despite all the factors that say I shouldn’t be able to do it will be a huge reward for me later in my running career and my outlook on every day tasks.
When I am struggling Saturday, I will reflect on my all-time favorite book, reminding myself “..you don’t’ become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.”
To my fellow runners, I’ll see you on the backroads.