Sweet Johnny V (now "the hubster") and I have decided that this is the Year of the Half. We'll be doing three of them -- two independent races, and one Ironman brand. Why would we do this to ourselves, you ask?
The answer? So we can eat more food!
(Well, that's partially true. We've already proven that newlyweds do, indeed, gain weight... particularly in the off-season.)
But the real answer is that we opted out of Ironman Wisconsin - at least for 2011. The plan had always been to have the Racing Year To End All Years in 2011, so that if we do decide to have little people, we (errr... "I") would feel like we were ... ready. Ready to give up training and racing for a little while, and ready to embark on that new adventure. We both figured that if we were going to do Ironman together, 2011 would be the best time. As a DINK couple, we'd have the resources and the time.
So, we signed up to volunteer with some of our friends at Ironman Wisconsin. The plan? Ride the course on Saturday, volunteer on Sunday, and sign up for the race on Monday. We drove up on Friday after work, bikes in tow. Saturday morning it rained quite a bit, and we thought our plans would be thwarted. But by the afternoon the weather broke, and it was a perfect fall day for a ride. We got the bikes ready and headed out to the course. We would do just one loop of two, so "just" a 40 miler. Piece of cake. Right?
Now, normally SJV and I are extremely prepared. We carry i.d.s, money, extra fluids and food. For some reason -- perhaps because we felt particularly "expert" at the end of the season and because we had already taken our Speedfills off of our bikes, we brought two water bottles for each of us and a gel. We thought we were being pretty conservative.
As we got out onto the course, we began to see why Ironman Wisconsin is considered a "hilly" course. There are the mythic "three sisters" hills, and I hadn't mapped out where they were. The first five minutes into the ride, we went up a fairly impressive hill and I thought: "Ahhh. This must be the first of the three sisters!" Ummmm... no. Not by a long shot. That was a bunny hill compared to some of the monsters we encountered. Every few minutes we were going up or coming down a hill.
Screaming descents, grunting uphills -- it's a good thing that I like climbing and I have a good bike setup for it.
It became clear, however, that we had miscalculated our nutrition needs. Massively. By the time we got about 20 miles in (so that we couldn't really turn around) we realized our mistake. But with no cash and no way to get back, we had to push onward. Hard. And at this point, we were trying to beat dusk.
I've never used EVERY gear available on a ride. Now I have. And I've never been so happy to be done with a ride. Considering the fact that we had no nutrition and not much by way of fluids, we didn't do too bad -- I think it took us about 3:30, and we weren't really dawdling. And we were in excellent shape. For us, at least. So rather than giving each other a high-five at the end of the ride and having visions of IMOO dancing in our heads, we spent a good ten minutes silently contemplating whether this was such a good idea. I was more concerned about bike handling skills and descending; John was just less enthused because although the course is gorgeous, it was just a lot more challenging. Would this be fun? We both pondered, and decided to sleep on it.
The next day we volunteered at a water stop that had a "Super Hero" theme.
I waited until the second loop before I unveiled my costume.
That went over pretty well with the tired men-folk, and with the ladies who appreciated a little comedic relief. Nothing like catwoman screaming "Water! Perform!" (They were serving Ironman Perform rather than Gatorade...)
We volunteered all day, and then spent the evening cheering friends in to their finishes, finishing our night as the last racer came in at midnight. And even though we were inspired by the racers we saw finish, we were still left with the conclusion that we just enjoyed ourselves so much training for and racing at the half distance, that maybe an intense year of racing that distance would be more ... Fun.
And isn't that what this is all about anyhow?
So, 2011 will be the Year of the Half. Maybe 2012 with be the Year of the Full. We'll see...
Whatever you do, have fun...