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Setting goals and taking a risk

Lake_placid_2008_may_025_3See the woman on the right? She is crazy. Granted the woman on the left isn't much saner.

The photo on the right is of me and my coach Mary Eggers at our training weekend in Lake Placid this past May. We are exhausted from a day of training, a little loopy and enjoying a well-deserved ice cream treat.

I look at this photo and wonder how I became so gullible to have Mary talk me into signing up for a Half Ironman next year.

Yes, you read that correctly. I registered for Muskoka 70.3 -- a half Ironman race in Canada. And yes, I had adamanetly said in previous blogs that any distance which ahd the word "Ironman" in it was not for me. I meant it at the time.

But lately I started to think what other challenges I could tackle. Mary and I were meeting this week to discuss my races for 2009. This second year of racing is much more deliberate than the first. It's not about just throwing me in races for experience, it's about choosing races that are key ones for me (my big goals) and getting in other races for fun and preparation.

My first big goal is the Buffalo Marathon in May. I didn't really have another goal race but as I sent Mary a list of races and dates in preparation for our meeting, I noted that the weekend of Sept. 13 I wanted to go to Muskoka to cheer on a number of friends who would be doing the 70.3 race, adding that there was no way I could do that race this year.

"Now exactly why can't you do a 70.3 race in September? I can't think of a good reason," Mary replied.

"Are you serious?" I quipped back. "This is a hilly course on the bike and run and a 1.2-mile swim with a time limit!"

"From the girl who rode her bike through Italy and Lake Plaice?" Mary shot back. "Yes, I hear your heart pound from here. You better sign up before it closes."

"OK," I said with much trepidation as I clicked the confirm button the registration page. "You better be sure I can do this."

"You just ran a half marathon on a whim," Mary said. "You easily ride 56 miles. You swim the far every time. Glad you enjoyed your vacation."

There are moments when I sit and wonder exactly what it is I have done. I mean, the marathon is one thing. Bumping up to an intermediate distance is yet another. But a half Ironman? Swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 and run 13.1? With a time limit?

The good news is that Muskoka is a year away. I have plenty of time to improve. After all, didn't I have doubts that I could swim far enough to do a sprint triathlon at this time last year? And I did it.

Ok. My heart is pounding just thinking about this race.

There is a lot to risk with this ambitious 2009 schedule -- from the marathon to Muskoka. I can list dozens of reasons why doing either is a bad idea and dozens more why doing both of them is an even worse idea.

But there is one key reason to go ahead and do it: I want to try.

My heart says to go for it and my heart has wisdom I can't put into words.

Am I scared? Yes. Do I have doubts? Tons.

But I know the risk will be worth it in the end. I know that if I take a leap of faith I'll be given something soid to stand on or wings to fly.

Here goes this year's journey, which really might be to hell and back.

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