The Toughest Endurance Challenges & Why

If there’s one thing that plagues me, it’s that I usually want everything. At the same time. I’ve never thought much of the proverbial idiom, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” My father was a pastry chef at one point in his life. He made cakes. He also ate cake (from time to time).

Also, if you think I have nice buns, yes, my father was a baker – in case that wasn’t already clear.

So, how does making- and eating cakes relate to my pursuit in endurance sports? Simple, cakes contain a lot of calories. I expend a lot of calories. Perfect match! Actually, I’m weird and have a sugar aversion. I’d rather eat broccoli or kale. Yes, Suzanne, kale!

In all seriousness, I began feeling limited with triathlon, because the notion of ultras, epic cycling, and climbing mountains made me salivate as much as a savory Lacinato Kale and Broccoli Salad with a Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette. Nom.

Bringing things full circle, I want to compete in triathlons, ultras, epic cycling events, and climb mountains at the same time. Figuratively speaking, that is. As seen in the venn diagram below, there is an overlap of fitness gain to be had across all disciplines. However, such endurance events batter and beat you (i.e. me) senseless. Well, temporarily.

Erich Wegscheider building fitness diagram.

This Diagram Irrefutably Proves Multi-Multi-Sport Fitness

 

If you were wondering, yes, I do have a coach; there actually is method to the madness. Speaking of madness, we believe we can win some of the declared challenges. Will I? We’ll see. In reality, it’s not so much about winning, as it is that I want to win and want to do the work. Regardless,  I’m not competing for finishers’ t-shirts.

So, what’s with my fascination with sore legs, gluttony, speedo tans, accumulating piles of laundry, short shorts, traveling, naps, bikes, and big mountains?

Being in the moment.

I may or may not have the tendency of letting my mind drift from the present moment. Often times, I day-dream or work through the logistics of my next workout (“Where will I run?”; “What will I eat after?”; “When will I be able to upload to Strava?”; “Why do Christmas trees smell so nice!?”; etc).

Erich Wegscheider with a Christmas Tree

Look! A Christmas Tree! Sorry, My Mind Drifted…

 

Anyways, as soon as things start to burn and/or fatigue sets in, I’m completely in the moment.

Thinking back to my 2011 climbing expedition in the Himalayas, everything sucked and everything was beautiful. I had gotten sick a few days prior to the climb and couldn’t keep anything down. Being my stubborn self, I pushed on to base camp with my guide, despite feeling like I was literally running on empty. While I was eventually able to get food down, the strongest sense of fatigue I had ever experienced lingered (base camp is at 5,087 m or 16,690 ft if that makes any difference). That fatigue made the climb seem all the more arduous, but in retrospect, I’m grateful things played out exactly as they did.

The entire way up, I only focused on the next step or grip – not the summit. During rest breaks, I’d turn off my head torch and admire the cosmos, thoroughly relishing that moment. Though, when I’d go for a sip of water, I’d find that my bottle had frozen solid. Things like that sucked, but such things are of little concern when you’re crampon’ing on a glacier between crevasses tied to the only other person on the mountain; the guide.

[video_box video_url=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/8kdTocrurE0?rel=0″]

 

When fatigue and I are hanging out, I don’t think about the outcome or what’s being served at the finish line. It doesn’t matter if we’re climbing a 6,189 m (20,305 ft) peak or swimming an all-out 100 for time. I’m in that moment. It’s such moments that I feel like I’m truly living and appreciating. Endurance sports are my vessel to that.

Given the challenges listed, there will be a lot of “in the moments” to be had. How long will it take to get through everything? That’s really a question of money. I don’t have the pockets to fund what I’ve set out to do – I’m wearing running shorts. How I’ll get funding is a matter of creativity. Regardless, it will take awhile to do everything. The way I see it, that list is my life’s ambition.

I’m making my cake and I’ll be eating it too.