I need goals to keep me motivated. It’s part of what my sister calls, my attention deficit disorder. Now, I’ve never been tested for or diagnosed with ADD and nor do I believe it’s actually a ‘disorder’. But my sister has been to some classes about ADD and dyslexia because she has a step-son and son who both have dyslexia. And she told me that she had a total light bulb moment during those classes: ‘My brother Andrew is so dyslexic and ADD’. She even tests me sometimes and I always pass the test with flying colours (even though I don’t ever know I’m doing a test). And by pass, I mean that I always do what people with dyslexia or ADD are meant to do. And I’m proud of it because I know that’s the part of my personality that leads me off on adventures.
So, back to needing goals. If I don’t have goals, I get distracted. New shiny things catch my eye and I’m off on a tangent again. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the adventures that going off on tangents bring. But in the past it has led to me living a chaotic and unfocused life. And when things are chaotic and unfocused, I tend to get depressed. This is because I have a strong clash between my lack of focus and my goal-oriented nature. If I don’t ‘achieve’ something then I feel slack. I have tried changing the goal oriented part of myself for over a decade but have to do what the taoists do: go with what’s natural.
It’s still early in my first trail running season but already I’ve pretty much entered a 50km run every month until March. I had a clear goal: to run the North Face 100 at the Blue Mountains outside Sydney in May. But there’s a problem. Well, not a problem in itself but a clash of dates. See, I am going to a work conference in Houston, Texas in May. See how it’s not really a problem – I get to go to the US.
When I realised this, I changed my goal and thought I might try the Alpine Challenge in the Victorian Alps. It’s a 100km trail run that is largely held above the tree line. They usually get sub-zero temperatures at night and the trail isn’t actually marked – you need to be able to read a map. While this event excites me, I know that I won’t be ready by March. The furthest I’ll have raced will be 50km and I don’t think it’s sensible to combine my first 100km race with my first alpine experience. Sure, I’ve done some alpine walking but only 10-20km day walks.
So I went looking for running adventures in America. And then I found it! The perfect end of season goal. The North Face Bear Mountain 50 mile Trail Run in New York State. Not only does the course look stunning but the entry fees are cheap by Australian standards. For $US90 you get a 50 mile race with fully stocked aid stations, a North Face technical t-shirt, North Face arm warmers, a North Face drink bottle and a finisher’s medal. Just the t-shirt and arm warmers alone would probably set me back about $90 in Australia and commercial (i.e. sponsored by the major brands) 100km events in Australia usually cost $200+.
And 50 miles is probably a better end of season target too. After all the 50km events I’ll have run over the season, stepping up to 50 miles will be achievable. The 14 hour cut-off will provide me with a good solid challenge but one I know I can achieve. Fifty miles is also a good distance to use as a base for next season when I might be able to target some of the 100km events, including the Alpine Challenge in March 2014.