Little did I know a year ago, when I dubbed 2014 the “Year of the Plow Horse,” how much I would come to depend on the characteristics of the reliable ol’ plow horse to make it through some of the more challenging races I’ve done.
The plow horse is a strong, sturdy animal. She has a lot of work to do, but she can’t rush through it and burn out. No! The plow horse must be patient as she pursues the goals for the day, the week, the month, the year.
The plow horse has been uniquely bred with the intention to balance both speed and muscle, giving her the ability to work hard for an extended period of time. Forget cheetahs. They suck. They just can’t hang for the all day deal. Indeed, the endurance sport community should seriously consider adopting the mighty plow horse as our official mascot.
Channeling the strength, the sturdiness, the endurance and the patience of the plow horse is what got me to the finish line in race after race throughout 2014.
First, there was the Florida Intimidator, in Clermont, with its single aid station in the Florida sunshine and heat. No matter – the plow horse trudges on with or without water!
Then, we went to the hills of Pennsylvania for the Lake Raystown Half iron, where the advertised gain for the half distance was 2,000 feet. In reality it was just shy of 5,000 feet. 2,000 feet. 5,000 feet. Whatevs… It doesn’t matter to the plow horse. Steady she climbs.
By June it was time for Ironman Coeur d’Alene – the “A” race of the season – the race in which I was hoping to finally do it: qualify for Kona. Ah, yes, a plow horse’s dream! Ironman Coeur d’Alene, where the winds blew 25 mph, and the chop in the 60-degree lake slapped you around like your silly Aunt Sally. Ironman Coeur d’Alene – where I almost coulda, shoulda been a contender – but I fell 90 seconds short of the last qualifying slot. Tough break – but the plow horse sees the long game. It’s not over; there is more work to be done.
So, onward to Ironman Louisville, my last chance for a lost cause. Ironman Lousville, with the temps near 100 degrees, and the sun shining brightly, baking you like sweet potato fries, except not so sweetly or yummily. But, the plow horse knows: she who stays the course and doesn’t give in to the pain (or the inability to breathe) wins the day!
Thanks to IM Lou, I found my way to the Ironman World Championships (and not a moment too soon, my readers say! This blog was becoming a repetitive advertisement for that race.) As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for – you might just get 40 mile an hour winds. But, the plow horse stays the course (or tries to as the wind whips her from one side of the road to the other).
The Year of the Plow Horse – 2014 – was a challenging year, a slower year than 2013, but equally rewarding for so many reasons – many of which have not a dang thing to do with Kona (although it helped ;)). I faced conditions and challenges that several years ago would have had me laying on the side of the road in a ditch, praying for a plow horse to come pick me up.