Thursday, October 18, 2012

420: counting down and moving on

Two weeks ago, my pastor tossed off a casual allusion to a grueling race.  He compared the Christian life to an IronMan Triathalon.  And even though he was trying to make the point that anyone who did that kind of race is just a bit obsessive and nutso . . . let me rephrase that:  maybe because he was trying to make the point that anyone who would do that race would be just a bit obsessive and nutso, I got bitten by the bug.

My guy had been off at Army training and missed church, but I mentioned the IronMan idea to him.  And he got bit by the bug even bigger.  The more the two of us talked about it, the more we got excited.  I don't own a decent bike, but I'm sure I could figure out how to ride one a mere 112 miles.  He can barely swim the length of the pool, but he's sure he could get lessons and figure out how to go 2.4 miles through open water.  We've both done half-marathons; how much harder could it be to go the full 26-point-something on foot?  (That marathon comes after drowning swimming for about two hours and crashing biking for 6-ish hours, or course).

For the past two weeks, that's sort of all we've been talking about.  We've decided we'll try to do this before I turn 50 . . . that means, during the summer of 2015.

Just like that, our lives are about to become different again.

The financial implications:
The race itself is expensive.  Travelling to the race is expensive.  I guess I can deal with that.  Maybe.

Some people claim that runners need special shoes.  I have exactly three pairs of running shoes; I bought them over the past 4 years at yard sales, and I paid a total of $11 for all three pairs combined.  I've run more miles than I can count in them, including a few half-marathons.  Maybe SOME people need expensive new shoes all the time, but I figure I can get by without them.  Harrumph.
(For a long harangue on why I think used shoes are really okay, see this.  
For where I think the whole "used shoes = bad shoes" idea comes from, see this.)

Ditto for the fancy ScienceDiet squirt foods.  I've done fine so far carrying waffles and bananas around with me.  It is entirely possible that eating expensive squirty stuff might move me from 863rd place to 794th place in a race of 1000 people.  But I'm not buying it anyway.

Bike.  Okay, the bike, I'm going to have to buy that.  And bike shoes, too.  And that's an expense.  But part of the reason I can justify it for myself is that I've grown too comfortable taking the car on jaunts of a mile or more.  Much of the frugal part of me has been shaking a finger at the car-driving side of me.  The frugal me screams that short automobile trips are evil-bad-bad.  I figure that training for the race will make me want to take the bike on these trips (in the short run), and even after the race they'll make me feel more comfortable riding the bike for errands (in the long run).  Perhaps this will save money in the distant future.  We'll see if I'm right.

The health implications:
During the last two weeks I have kept on thinking about what it would mean to do an event that will take 15 hours of constant motion.  And it makes me realize about how much of my current waking day is spent in constant immobility.

Already I feel myself itching just to get moving more.  Get off the butt.  Stretch.  Walk/run/garden.  One of my students told me that his club is hosting a 12-hour dance-a-thon in March, and my first reaction was "that would be good practice for the triathalon!"

The time implications:
Yeah, time.  I'm giving myself until the summer of 2015 to get ready for this.  Sometime between now and then, I'm going to have to ratchet my training up from about two-or-three hours per week to something like ten-to-twelve hours per week.  That means (doing quick mental arithmetic here . . . ) more than an hour a day of exercise and motion.

I can do a bunch of this training in ways that overlap with the things I already love.  (Integrate, not balance).  My boys are avid cyclists; J-son is a fabulous runner.  No doubt we'll all have some quality family time on the road or in the pool together.  And training with my husband is one of my two favorite ways for us to get sweaty together.  Similarly, running and swimming have always been good times for me to think about math.  So I can probably keep up with my research and still train for the event.  (It helps that 2015 will kick off my next sabbatical, so I'll have a bit of extra time off of teaching after the event, when I can recover).

But even with family/math/movement overlaps, something has gotta go if I'm going to take this new thing on.  The time to train has to come from somewhere.  And therefore . . .

The blog implications.
The time to train will come from ye olde blog.  I've loved putting my life out there into the cyber world -- I've loved it too much, really.  I get a little obsessive about posting.  So much so that I've occasionally delayed getting homeworks back to my students, and so much so that I've often ignored my kids so that I can write about cute things they did.  This is not healthy, in many senses of that word.

For the sake of my eternal soul and also for the health of my professional and family life, it's probably time to cut back anyway.   I don't want to stop immediately (just like I don't want to start training several hours a day immediately).

Today's post is my 420th post.  By the time I get to 450 posts, I'll put the Miser Mom baby to bed.

I want to write more about what's up with the kids (including, I hope, posts about our eventual Haitian child).  I want to write about semi-retirement for my husband.  I want to write about why frugality is not the same as delayed gratification.  There's a lot I want to say here.  I'll have 30 chances to speak (or at least, write) my mind.

But after that, it will be time to obsess about something else.  Time, as they say, to move on.


  1. But but... I just discovered you! And I want to know updates and stuff. The Haiti adoption, retirement for your DH, food, classes, and so much more.

    1. Yeah, and don't think that didn't sway me! I'm serious; I got this "hit" bump, all coming from your blog. You guys are *way* funnier than I am, by the way, and I thought, wow. Somebody *cool* likes me. Maybe I should keep the blog going! But then I felt the chair under my butt, and got twitchy. Run, run, run. -MM

    2. Maybe you could post on anniversaries... or for big events... Or on the first of the month... Or just when you feel like it.

      In addition to those 30 final posts. :)

      I do get the obligation to regular blog, and the need to all or nothing things, but you're an academic blogger, and academic bloggers are totes sporadic. Just ignore the personal finance blogger part. It's not like you have advertising!

    3. 30 plus epsilon, eh? I think I'm just going to go all enigmatic on you and say, "we'll see . . . ". And no, it's not like I'd ever have advertising.

    4. Well, 30 plus your choice of function. ;)

  2. I like N&M's idea, and I was thinking of that too. I just found you (via them), and I have really been enjoying your blog! It would be neat for you to do a really sporadic check-in or something, like once a week or once a month. I would love to hear how the triathlon training is going. Which, by the way, I am totally impressed with your gumption. I have not yet reached that level of organization in my life.

    In any case, the decision is up to you. But know that you will be missed.

    1. The punch in the arm is much appreciated! I am not at all sure I'm capable of "sporadic" (obsessive, yes; organized, yes; sporadic would have to be planned for). I repeat comments above: "hmm . . . we'll see . . . ". --MM