For me, the easiest part of an endurance race is signing up. That usually happens in January after two months of sitting on the couch waiting for the weather to warm so I can get outside and do some miles. The hardest part of an endurance race? Getting to the starting line.
The first part of training is fun, with short miles and plenty of time and energy to do the other things in life. But then the real training has to kick in. Long miles that leave me exhausted and, lately, nauseated due to not getting my nutrition right. On my last ride, I felt so poorly that I was ready to chuck it all. Dirty Kanza 200 just sent us riders its third reminder that our last chance to bail out of the race is May 6 and it was all I could think about those last few miles to get home.
But after some rest and decent food, I decided to go back to Plan B: to show up at the start of the race but allow myself not to finish. At this stage, I really don't think I have what I need to ride 200 miles on gravel under 21 hours. I did two double centuries in my late twenties, two Ironman triathlons in my forties, so I have a good idea what it takes to finish a race like this. Now at 59 I'm ready to accept that maybe I bit off too much. And I'm ok with that. In fact, I feel a bit of freedom in the idea that I'm ok with this possible "failure". Because I choose not to see it as failure.
Our minds make up so much when we are confronted with fear. Being afraid of "failing" is what keeps most of us from even trying something challenging. If I didn't give myself permission to DNF, I'm certain I would be one of many who decided to drop out before the race even started. Instead, along with 2000 other excited but nervous racers, I'll get up early for the 6am start, not knowing how the long day will play out. That's part of the big lure of doing something like this. Not knowing. And I think that's what adventure is really about.