The Road to Vineman

It’s almost here. You can feel the anticipation in the air.

The longest day of the past two years.

I am almost in disbelief that I have already covered the ground that stood between me and Vineman – 9 months, literally hundreds of miles of running, and riding, several bikes, 3 flat tires, a small handful of emotional meltdowns, 7 boxes of Perfect Foods Bars, 2 boxes of Clif Shot Blocks, and 36 Wednesdays of waking up at 5am to do a trainer ride, work for a couple of hours, swim a couple thousand yards, go back to work, and then plan for a long weekend of training.

As taper arrived, I had more time to think, digest and calm down about the whole 140 miles on the horizon thing. It certainly is different aiming at this goal when the goal is not my full-time job. I am excited for this race, eager to see my performance, eager to reap the benefits of this challenge. But, perhaps more, I am excited for what lies after that finish line.

I scooped Gunner up last weekend and hit the road for Healdsburg; to drive the 112 mile bike course that I’ll be tackling in less than 48 hours now, and to get a bit of breathing space. California’s Wine Country is still so new to me and there is so much to explore – it was fun to dip a toe in and I am eager to return tomorrow for the race, and then again in the fall – just around crush time – to lead and dig into the delicious restaurants, luxe accommodations, and general laid back feel of this part of the Golden State.

We drove around for nearly 3 hours with the windows down, poking our noses out the window to sniff late summer, to enjoy aguas frescas and some other special treats, take pictures, and soak it all in. On Saturday, I won’t have the opportunity to have my camera with me so, at least now, you will be able to see what I see when I am out there…

As I snapped shots – calming my nerves just seeing the course to come – I couldn’t help but sense just how different this accomplishment would be now. While it may seem strange that, just now, nearly 3 years later I am coming to realize that a cerulean sea and the rocky cliffs leading to it are no longer my stomping grounds. Rather, these rolling hills, fields of vineyards, and pastures gold and green are my backyard now – they are where I ride my bike and where I put my inner self to the test. They are a different type of challenging landscape all together. I do miss Asia. Very much. I miss having training and racing be my life from dawn to dusk. But, I also love the gates that have been opened by our move, and the elements of danger, distance, and intensity that have been moved off our plates in jumping back over the Pacific. Saturday will be a great day, for sure – there is excitement in the air. Sunday too – when I wake up and have no agenda but to taste wine, enjoy a massage and revel in the fruits of labor. But come Monday, that might be the most amazing day – when I find myself already peeking at the calendar for 2012, arranging races in this new lifestyle, picking new challenges.

I love the change of scenery. 🙂