Thursday, August 24, 2017

And then this happened...

Liquid courage is a thing. (Just go to any karaoke bar.) And liquid courage following on the heels of some exercise endorphins is a potent, perhaps dangerous thing. Before I tell you why, let me take you back in time.

It was the August long weekend in 2014. Do you remember what you did that weekend? I do. I was training for Challenge Penticton. It would be my first iron distance race and I was on a training weekend with some of my best girl friends. It was my first time riding the bike course in its entirety. And it was also Ultraman Canada race weekend. 

For those who are wondering what Ultraman Canada is, it's a 3-day multisport stage race:
  • Day 1: 10 km swim + 150 km bike
  • Day 2: 275 km bike
  • Day 3: 84.4 km run 
On Day 1 of the 2014 race, we would be sharing a part of the Ultraman bike course with athletes while we were on our training ride, though I don’t think we realized that when we set out. I remember stopping in Oliver for water and the clerk at the store asking if I was doing the race… “ha ha no… but thanks for thinking I could be!” 

Later, when the Ultraman course branched off from the Challenge/old Ironman Canada course, one of the volunteers was signaling to me to turn on to the Ultraman course. Again, I remember feeling flattered that someone thought I could actually be competing in that race.

That weekend got my Ultraman curiosity piqued. I spent a bit of time perusing the race website and discovered that to race Ultraman, you had to race a qualifying iron distance time, and then apply for entry to a small field of athletes. A qualifying iron distance time is 14:30 or better. Heading into my first iron distance race, I was worrying over making that 17 hour cut-off. The idea of getting under 14:30 was laughable. Well, no need to spend any more cycles thinking about Ultraman anymore! That’s a level of racing well beyond me!

And then a few weeks later, I raced my first iron distance event. And finished in 14:15.
Challenge Penticton Finish Line. 3 years ago today.

Suddenly, the idea of racing Ultraman “one day” wheedled its way back into my brain. So then what happened?

Well I was in no rush - I thought I’d work on getting faster, buy a tri-bike, save some money (this race isn’t cheap!) but it was on my list of things I wanted to do “one day”. Firmly on my Bucket List. In the years that followed, Ultraman became Ultra520K Canada and then last year, they announced that 2018 would be the last year for the event. The qualifying ironman needed to be in the previous calendar year and mine wasn’t.  So I took the Ultra520K Canada logo (paired with my believe/fierce ambigram), off of my vision board and thought “well, it was a long shot anyway”.

So then what happened?

Fast forward to this year. The August long weekend. Ultra520K Canada race weekend. During the race, the organizers posted to social media that they had decided they would do a 2019 event, and that they’d “relax” the qualifying standard, and that those interested should get their application in ASAP. Now, this might have gone unnoticed except a friend tagged me on the post... Shelly, I'm looking at you.

I posted on their Facebook…

So then what happened? 

I went for a swim. Then a run. Then a ride. Had a few post-ride drinks with the hub and one of my best bitches (who did nothing to discourage me... Diane, I'm looking at you). The next thing I knew, I was at home, filling out an application form and hitting submit.

I’m not gonna lie, the next day, I was freaking out… What have I done?! But, I’d thought with the Ultra520K Canada window opening, it really was now or never, and that I shouldn’t let the opportunity pass. As I waited for the official word on my application, I wondered if I’d be relieved or disappointed if they declined my application. As it turned out, the official word was that those who had expressed interest race weekend, should officially submit (or in my case, resubmit) their application. An opportunity for a sober second thought! So what did I do? Of course I applied. Bucket List, remember?

And then this happened:


I'm not kidding. Let that sink in. If you're going to call my crazy, get in line. I've already heard it a couple of times today! 

Today, the race organizers issued a press release that the race will continue for the foreseeable future and I briefly wondered whether I should have waited but then... waited for what? I'm not getting any younger. In 2019, when I toe that start line, I'll be 49 years old. What a fabulous & fitting start to the last year of my 40s given that I started them by running my first marathon, 11 days after my 40th birthday, not even halfway through my weight loss journey. Can I do this? In the words of the inspirational Chad Bentley: You will only know if you try. So I'm going to try.

Left: summer 2006. Right: summer 2017

The woman on the right tackles challenges that the woman on the left never would have contemplated for herself... not in her wildest dreams. Applying for Ultra520K represents more of that dreaming big, leap of faith, embrace the journey thinking that has been so transformative over the last decade - transformative in so many ways, all positive! 

Huge thanks to friend and phenomenal athlete Ann Barnes for reaching out and being such a voice of encouragement and support these last few weeks. She has me believing! 

I'm not exactly sure what the next 2 years of preparation are going to look like (and by not exactly, I mean I have no clue) but I do know that they begin with a cork popping tonight.

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