So, the latest batch of lunacy looms. And it's a biggie. The Nokia Coast-to-Coast, the focus of a summer's (ahem) training. 160km across Scotland, run-bike-kayak stylee. And guess what? I'm nervous.
A wise old man (or was it a doddery old goat?) often used to tell me that being nervous was natural, it showed you were taking things seriously. Well, I often try to pretend I'm not taking it seriously, but in this case, it's a definite lie. I'm taking it really, really seriously. I'm in Expert category. That's not a refection on my abilities as a racer, just that I have the skills and desire to put a long kayak section into my race. I may be the least Expert of the Experts, and there's only 40 of us.
I'm competitive, if only with myself. My only aim is to complete the course, irrespective of ranking or time. I am going for a long day out in the hills. It will hurt. I know all of this, I keep repeating all of this to myself. But the truth is thus: If this were a team event, I would be less nervous. The support and presence of others in the same boat is a big motivating factor to me. But this is a solo event. Steve is supporting me, of which I'm very, very grateful. Aside from that, I have to push myself the entire way. No helping hands, no extrinsic motivator alongside, no-one to help through their bad patches and to be helped by through mine. I don't handle solo racing as well as I do team work, and this is a big solo. Mentally, that's hard work for me. We'll see how it pans out.
What's in store for me then?
11km trail run - 55km road bike - 17km kayak - 53km mountain bike - 23km run/trek - 1.5km kayak.
What's making me nervous is the foot work. An 11km trail run is neither here nor there, it's two-and-a-bit laps of the parkrun. It's a gentle shuffle to get me warmed up and into the race. 23km run/trek worries me more. I'd never think of entering a road half marathon. I know, theoretically, I can do the distance, but it's a long way, at the end of a day like that. That is the crux, for me. In my own head, I need to clear the cutoff at the end of the MTB leg by at least an hour, to give me a comfort margin for that trek and to see me clear of the cutoff time at the start of the final kayak. Not making that final cut, to be that close, to look across Loch Leven and be able to see the finish but to not be allowed to complete, that is the worst case scenario.
It won't be quick or pretty, but then again I'm neither. Am I prepared? Ask me at 5am on Sunday.