Friday, March 7, 2014

A Long Time Ago (5 years) in a Galaxy Far Away (sort of)

5 years.

That's how long Char and I have lived in El Paso.  And now it's time to leave.

About leaving El Paso behind I have mixed emotions.  I have developed my physical prowess and athletic endeavors so much in this town.  At the same time, it can be a rough place to train and play.

The desert pretty much wants to kill you.  So do the drivers.  (See here for details on the drivers or the animals)

But the weather can sometimes be beneficial to training year-round.  You just have to find creative ways to work around the windy season (which only lasts about 11 1/2 months).

When Char and I first moved to El Paso in February 2009, I had only run my first half-marathon the previous April, and Char hadn't run a day in her life.  Neither of us was a cyclist, had ever raced in a triathlon, and I was still a terrible swimmer.  (Picture a bag of rocks sealed in a concrete box and a little propeller trying to push it along the water)

Since then, we've both ran multiple half marathons, completed metric century rides, blasted through triathlons and placed in our age groups in several races.  Just in the last year, I've completed separate standard century (100 mile) rides and then ran two marathons back to back with Char.

Celebrating the finish at the 100 mile Chile
Pepper Challenge.  Almost falling on my face.
1st Place in the women's 30-39 age group for the
Iron Soldier Sprint Triathlon, 29 September 2013.

We've planned whole vacations around athletic events, using them as excuses to visit places like Washington, D.C., Hawaii, and Colorado.

I've learned that I will run for beer (hoholo na pia), Char will run for wine, and that we'll both ride hard to earn the right to eat like this:

The Irishman's Cure at the Irish Embassy in Durango, CO: traditional Irish breakfast with rashers,  sausage, black and white pudding, eggs, grilled tomato, and irish potatoes in cream sauce.  Picture does not do it justice.  I burned 4,992 calories on a ride that day to eat this.
Somehow, most of our picutres while we're traveling for athletic events involve some kind of food.

I've learned to relax, too.  That not everything requires that I push myself beyond my limits.  Sometimes it's nice to throttle back and enjoy the scenery.

Humpback breeching along the Maui coast.  

I've decided that if there's no coffee or beer after a ride, then something is wrong.  But if there's a burrito waiting, it can make everything alright again.

Public bathrooms are awesome, and a well placed bush or tree is priceless.

                         Yes, another food picture.

There's nothing quite like an insurmountable challenge to push you beyond your limits.  I've learned to not be afraid of daring to do something that I'm pretty sure will be impossible for me to accomplish.

Likewise, there's nothing better than eating more than you can stomach knowing you've burned more calories than you'll be able to replace no matter how hard you try.  (There's a fat kid deep inside of me smiling when I'm riding.)

I don't respect the limitations of my body, and I have suffered the consequences regularly.

I've been hit by cars, almost eaten by bears, killed by bees and rabid dogs, nearly torn my IT band, and developed amazing bruises on my feet.  My toenails are permanently altered.  Char's taken face dives on concrete, done weird things to her joints and toenails, strained ankles and fought through horrifying shin-splints.

And we keep going because we're not right in the head.

The giddy sensation of completing something that you had thought was monumental and impossible can wash away the pain and suffering tied to the accomplishment.  Carbs and beer help, too.

Descending from 10,910 foot Molas
Pass into Silverton, Colorado.
Any amount of pain is worth the view from the top.

10,000 feet up Haleakala Volcano in Maui.

Setting a goal for a ride or run can make all the difference, even if it's frivolous.  Fish tacos, anyone?

Char and I both have grown so much in the last 5 years.  Sometimes it's hard to imagine what life was like before we started down this journey.  Our lives are much richer and more exciting with all the adventures we experience now.

With barely a month left, it's time to say goodbye to El Paso and all the adventures we've had.  Then it's time to look forward to new ones.  What will we look like in another 5 years?

How do we say goodbye?  Do something crazy?  Sure.

Char is doing the Bataan Memorial Death March at the end of the month.  26.2 miles of foot/leg torture.  I'll watch and cheer and eat and wait.  Twice was enough for me.

We're both running the St. Paddy's Day 10K (yes, I'll do it in my kilt) and then the World's Fastest 10K.  The latter should be interesting as that was one of the first events we both used to guage our running and fitness progress.

And then it's off to new adventures together.

What will those be?  Maybe some rides, maybe some runs, maybe we'll find something totally new to experience and push ourselves.  Kite surfing?  Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP'ing)?  Equestrian jumping?  No clue, but I'm sure it'll be slightly dangerous, a little painful, and very rewarding.

The point is, as I've learned over the last half decade, that you don't have to move fast so long as you are moving.

And not being eaten by an enraged mother bear.