Madness of a different kind in March

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By JACK CROWE

Cycling Columnist

Soothsayer to Caesar, “Beware the ides of March." — Julius Caesar by Shakespeare.

I need to be careful of mid-March, too.  After all, I have not yet lost my holiday roll.   And was that me puffing away on my bike last Saturday morning as my cycling group disappeared into the distance? Is my body in permafrost despite the early spring?

Can I shake the cobwebs off my winter biking form or am I like the 38-year-old power hitter who arrives at spring training to find his long ball is gone?

And the run? The Shamrock Shuffle 8K is around the corner. Maybe I'll accompany my older brother who jogs it every year on two replaced hips.

Now that I am over 50, I have learned not to make long term plans. I have friends who say, "My goal is to do Kona in two or three years." Not me. My goals are focused on the here and now.

My first is to get ready for the 10th riding of RGR. This is our Lake and Harlem cycling group's disorganized ride from Rockford to Galena and back in late April. Two days, 180 miles, and lots of hills all around Galena. Can I avoid the infamy of climbing in the sag wagon for a rest?

If I survive that, my next goal is Leon's World's Fastest Triathlon in Hammond, Indiana in early June.  Hammond is not Hawaii, but it is the only Olympic distance triathlon a half hour drive from my house.

And if I am not injured and if I haven't crashed or done anything else really stupid, and I have kicked into some serious training, I will do Vineman in late July in the Sonoma County, Calif., wine country. This is an off-brand Ironman with hills, heat and then Chardonnay, but only if I cross the finish line.

And next my wife and I jet off to the Alps in September for a different kind of ultimate event: Tour de Mont Blanc. That's 110 miles of hiking over 10 days while circumnavigating a legendary mountain. Fondue anyone?

And then in a weak moment (probably after gorging on the last of the Valentine’s Day candy), I signed up to do the Chicago Marathon this coming October. What was I thinking? Can I use walking sticks in a marathon?

My only hope for completing all this is that I have been liberated by age and predisposition from any desire to do these events fast. I will push but not into the zona rosa (the forbidden heart-rate zone). I will slog.

But right now, I can think of only one thing: surviving March.

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