Friday, March 2, 2012

Thrilled to be back in the chase

"Even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward."  -Victor Kiam

Keep up the chase and you may reach your goal, even if the prize is only a mouthful of metal rabbit.
The last three months have been extremely difficult ones, with challenges ranging from a host of injuries after Cozumel to a neverending series of tough briefs to write at work.  At times, it's seemed as if every dawn is a bit false, and it's showed in my workouts and races.  

Two weeks ago, I had perhaps the worst race of my life when I ran the first leg of a 3-man marathon relay.   My part was just under ten miles (I got the short straw), and I realized about three miles in that my head was anywhere but in the game.  It's amazing how much mindset affects our physical capacities, and as I was trying charge up tough climbs, my heart and mind were in another place entirely.  I think that, had I not been on a relay, I'd have just abandoned a couple of miles in.  As it was, I wound up walking on many stretches of the course, and trudged into the relay handoff zone nauseated with turmoil.  I suppose I was tired, too, though I can't particularly recall.  My teammates were very kind, all things considered.

Despite it all, for the last six weeks, I've gotten my training in, even when I just had to force myself out the door sometimes.  And happily, in the last week or so, things have suddenly started to come around: Last weekend I knocked out a 22-mile run, and both of my hard midweek runs have suggested that I'm rapidly getting back to my form of last fall, when I was tearing up PRs.  I've even managed to make it to the pool four times in the last week, and I think the crossover benefits are beginning to reveal themselves.  I'm not where I need to be yet, but my weight is plummeting according to plan, and I'm raring to go.  I'm optimistic that, by the time Boston and Big Sur roll around next month, I'll be ready for 'em.  I've even knocked out the first half of my forthcoming book!

I'm not quite the same athlete I was last fall, though.  I've learned some things about myself, and a big one is that endurance training and racing are deeply imperfect substitutes for the things that matter in life's final analysis.  We have to enjoy the process, not merely idolize a possible result about which no one but us truly cares, and we must remember that, as much as we love to run, ride, or swim, those things do not care equally about us.  At their best, endurance adventures can teach us a lot about ourselves, but only if we don't mistake the messenger for the message.