I wanted the first post of the new year to kick the blog off on a positive note.
Then I decided that I wasn’t really ready to enter the realm of speculative fiction and that I would instead stick to talking about what is really going on in my training life.
It has been a long road back from the Ironman. By which I mean that what I thought was the road back turned out to be a circuitous, twisty, rutted, disused fire track that dumped me out at the Lard-Ass bar here in Out-of-Shape junction where the only option is to eat Velveeta all day long and listen to non-stop Michael Jackson songs on Radio PEDO.
In case that didn’t clue you in, training just ain’t happening. In fact, I can’t bring myself in good conscience to even tag this post with a “training” label.
It isn’t that I don’t have motivation. I have races I’ve signed up for. Some of them are coming up quite soon. All too soon. Plus there are other kinds of motivation. Stepping on the scale, for instance (Holy Shit!). Seeing your body fat percentage (Cosmic Holy Shit!). What I’ve been missing is the resolve. Resolve is, for me at least, different than resolution. It is certainly different than resolutions. Which I do not make.
Resolve isn’t a movement toward a particular thing; it is rather a state of being, a disposition. It is a fusion of mind and will, a particular setting of your character. It sounds dramatic and heroic (and we all need to feel that way a little at times) but in most everyday situations it isn’t. In some cases you need to reach down deep and find the steel (I wanted to say iron, but I’m having one of those days when the Iron in Ironman seems very far away) in your soul, true. But most of the time it really is like, well, a setting, a switch that I’ve always been able to flip when I needed to. That switch is broken.
I don’t really know why. Yes, I’ve been busy with a lot of other stuff. I’ve been developing a new version of my writing course that has a lot of logistical and conceptual challenges built into it. I’ve ended up with a deluge of papers to either write, revise, review, or present at conferences, so that I am basically writing, writing, writing, all the time. No, I didn’t plan it that way; deadlines got moved, people send you requests for revisions or papers to peer review on their own schedule. Some of this, certainly writing the new stuff, is something I really enjoy; I get the same feeling when I’m in the zone with a piece of writing as when I’m blasting down a bike descent at 40mph, a real nervy rush. But as a result I’ve suddenly become conscious of how much time you have to set aside to really get serious about keeping yourself healthy; in fact, I’m much more aware of that now than when all my available spare time was in fact being sucked up by training for the Ironman last year. When you don’t actually set aside that time, everything else expands to fill the gap. Until there is no gap and you have no more time to set aside. Life eats us alive.
Motivation to workout has also been nonexistent. Which is actually a little strange for me. Sure, I’ve gone through patches in the past, a few days where I didn’t feel like it, where my body was telling me to rest. The occasional odd “ah, screw it” moments that we all have. But for the last couple of years at least I haven’t had any trouble feeling motivated to push myself to workouts. I’ve been getting up twice a week at 5:30 to go to track practice for the last–wow, three? four? years–for example. Last year, even with everything else going on, I still had plenty of energy (and, ok, not a little desperation and panic!) to go swimming in the evenings. Now, I can occasionally find the energy to string a couple of workouts together in a week, if I’m lucky. As long as they aren’t swimming. I know I should be swimming. I know I should be working on my weakest sport. But I just can’t bring myself to do it.
Then, just when it seemed as if something vaguely approximating motivation glimpsed in the distance through a swirling fog might be making its way toward me, I get sick.
So I’m having to re-evaluate my goals. I’d intended to race shorter events this year and was thinking that if I was able to carry over some of my fitness from last year and my experience I might be able to pull out a PR in some of the shorter races. It is pretty clear that is not going to happen. Even if the training had been going well to this point, when you are nearly 15 pounds heavier than you were, PRs are just not going to happen. Every triathlete also knows how hard it is to lose even a small amount of weight when you are into the training. So my first goal will be simply to get into any kind of physical condition. The Shamrock half is shaping up to be a train wreck. And if the snow doesn’t hang around and put the kibosh on the first Team Z training race this weekend I’ll be doing my level best to put the F.U.C.K.E.D.U.P in Epic Fail.
(Why don’t I just buck up and think positive thoughts? Well, those of you who have been reading this blog for some time know how I feel about positive thinking. For those of you who don’t, if positive thinking actually worked I would right this minute be riding around Lake Geneva on a Pinarello Dogma rather than writing this blog entry.)
But if I can get through those two things maybe I can start figuring out how to have fun with all of this again. Maybe this is where the Ironman journey was actually heading all along. The big lesson for me last year, one that arrived in the middle of the event, when I was completely messed up but already trying to figure out what I would do differently in my next Ironman, is just how much I really love competing. Now, ironically, I’m going to be faced with having to compete without any real chance of even improving over any previous performance. I’m going to have to find something else to love about competing other than doing better than I did last time.