In a Battle of Dreamers vs. Doers, Who Wins?

Gran Fondo: a one-day, long distance, organized cycling event. 

I fear I have done it again.

It happens at least once a year: I find myself on an event website that inspires an overwhelming surge of excitement. A beautiful trail race course, a crack climbing clinic, a hilly and scenic gran fondo.

I immediately picture myself running those trails, climbing those routes and biking those roads. An ‘ahh’ of wonder escapes involuntarily with the next exhale.

The impulse to register kicks in. I give it five minutes… the feeling remains. It must be a sign.

Within the next five, in the most pointed form of ‘I told you so,’ the payment receipt and registration confirmation are waiting for me in my inbox. Hands immediately make their way to my face.

Without fail, when the day arrives I find myself once again underprepared, undertrained and with a slight yet very distinguishable aura of self-loathing.

It was inevitable that one of these days, my impulse registration habit would get the better of me. If the sinking feeling in my stomach is any indicator, it is approximately 64 hours away, nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

With this year’s gran fondo now less than three days from now, I realize I’ve channeled more energy willing it into 2018 than actually training for it. Even then, and knowing myself, would it make a difference?

Looking back at my track record, there is absolutely no evidence that more time equates to more preparation:

Fact: I have expended 98% of my training calories on the ultramarathon, with approximately 2% devoted to the gran fondo.

Fact: I have biked fewer kilometers in the entirety of 2017 than the course of the upcoming ride.

Fact: My cumulative vertical gain this season is 355 feet, just 6,215 feet shy of what is required of us on Sunday.

Fact: After writing these facts, I now try to swallow the lump that has found itself lodged involuntarily in my throat.

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Recognizing these shortcomings weeks ago, I still managed to accomplish an incredible amount this week:

  • I researched, identified and registered for a four-week stand-up paddleboard yoga course (I needed an excuse to get me out on the water);
  • I found, chose and recruited for 2018’s ultramarathon (perhaps a blessing that it’s still six months too early to register);
  • I came across a sale on Alpinist back issues and sought out the Dean Potter feature (we all know of my love for Dean Potter… #51, if anyone else is interested); and
  • I managed to identify hiking trails in Vermont to tackle once the gran fondo is over (we should probably take advantage while we’re there).

The downfall here is that none of these seem to be related to cycling…

As I sat to reflect on this, I came to realize that if I spent even a quarter of the amount of time preparing for adventures as I do envisioning them, the ability to execute those coming up would enhance substantially.

My race times would decrease. My performance would increase. My body would surely recover faster. And goodness knows my blood pressure leading up to race days would be significantly lower.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, I also reflected on the sacrifices.

First off, there would be significantly fewer fails to share.

What hit the hardest, however, is that in order to perform better, my breadth of outdoor activity would ultimately have to be narrowed. In knowing myself, I also know I don’t just want to bike. Or run. Or climb. I want to do all of them.

In labeling myself a Dreamer, I then asked whether or not a Dreamer can also, realistically, be a Doer.

The Doer: Strategic. Calculated. Focused. Committed.

The Dreamer: Whimsical. Optimistic. Juggler. Unbound.

I have consistently struggled with the realization that as the latter, I spread myself too thin to really be great at anything. I will also continue, quite often, to be undertrained and underprepared. However, when self-loathing creeps in, I remind myself that living without those limits can allow me to sustain that wider breadth.

A sacrifice I am willing to make?

It is most certainly the possibilities that lie within that breadth to cause those original surges of excitement. Which leads to the prospect of the next adventure. Which leads to the impulse registration…

And so it continues.

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