Saturday, July 17, 2010

Once and Future Goals

Seven days to Ironman Lake Placid and I'm well into my taper. I've been sounding like a broken record complaining about how sluggish and heavy I've been feeling (the usual taper doldrums) and how worried I am about all the little aches and pains that are creeping up. Jim says I'm "saying exactly the same thing you always do during a taper." I'll have to trust him on this one.

The last time I was in Lake Placid, I didn't even know Jim. The most, and only, significant thing about Lake Placid was its Olympic history as the site of the "Miracle on Ice." It was a place to which you could never really "go" because the only way to "go" there would be to do it in a time-machine set to February 1980. And at my age, the excitement of seeing Mike Eruzione's goal in person would probably kill me.

But, in 1984, I did "go" to Lake Placid. Not in a time machine, but in a car. AND it was during the summer, when there was no snow -- and no hockey. I was with my college boyfriend and his brother and another guy who had some insane idea that he was going to hike to Mount Marcy, the highest peak in the Adirondacks, carrying nothing but a book of descriptions of "edible plants." We were such a bunch of hippies that we thought it was a brilliant idea. We dropped him at a trailhead, nine miles from his destination, and headed for Lake Placid.

Driving through Lake Placid was not what I expected. Lake Placid was not the "great city in the clouds." It was a little Adirondack village. There was one main road and the Olympic ski jumps rose above it like the towers of a great European cathedral. And just like that, it was gone. A tiny little mountain town that captivated the world by being the site of the ultimate underdog story. As a hockey fanatic, that U.S. Olympic moment was such a huge part of my formative years that I still use it as one of my "I remember exactly what I was doing when" stories. Going there the first time should have been a pilgrimage, but instead, it was just a "drive-by." Besides the ski jumps, the only other thing I remember was a hot dog stand called "Custard, Mustard and Brew."

Going back will be the pilgrimage. This time, I'm looking for my own miracle, my own underdog story. Physically, I'm in the best shape since my 2003 bike accident. But Ironman is mostly a mental race, and I want to do it right, with a good race strategy. Miracles rarely happen without some help from the weather, equipment and smart planning. But at the end of the day, I just want to know I did the best I could.

As most of my friends know, I'm notorious for setting goals based on passion, way above what's achievable, that usually end in failure. This time, I wanted realistic goals, based on logic, that don't depend on anyone else's race. I started out with some goals that were 99.9% reachable and worked downward from there. So without further delay, here are my Ironman Lake Placid Goals:
  • Stop at "Custard, Mustard and Brew" (I Googled it, and it still exists. Failure rate: 0.1%)
  • Make the pilgrimage to the Olympic ice hockey rink. (I didn't Google it, but it MUST exist. Failure rate: 0.1%)
  • Pack clothes for all conditions (even snow) and PUT THEM IN MY SPECIAL NEEDS BAGS. (After hypothermia in June in Coeur d'Alene, I think I've learned my lesson, nonetheless, it's not failsafe, so failure rate: 5%)
  • Go to sleep early, the goal request from J-Team member Jim. (Knowing my history, failure rate: 30%)
  • Smile at least once on the run. (Feasible if I do it at the beginning of the run, failure rate: 32%)
  • Stay focused and go out easy on the bike and run. (Knowing my history, but remembering success at the Pittsburgh Marathon, failure rate: 35%)
  • Enjoy the experience, no matter what happens. (I've been getting better at this, failure rate: 37%)
  • Get a decent finish line photo -- i.e., one where I'm mostly conscious, standing up straight, and my eyes point in the same directions. If possible, raise my arms and attempt to smile if my facial muscles still work. (I've partially succeeded in this in the past, failure rate 42%)
  • Stay out of the medical tent! another J-Team goal (As the Disaster Magnet, I've never successfully done this in an Ironman, failure rate: 70% ... i.e., not impossible)

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