Monday, April 23, 2012

Totally Worth It

Physical exhaustion
Ice packs
4 am
No beer
Time away from loved ones

Racing makes training worth “it.”  To me, the rush on race day, even if it’s just a last minute 5K, is unbelievable.  Seeing friends before and after the race, competing against yourself, watching family and friends run, being cheered (where else in adult life are you cheered?), the free shirt, the medals and sometimes awards, and of course, the free post-race grub.  Race day is awesome.

But for me, the biggest draw is more subtle than those things; yet, far more powerful.  It’s something that many observers won’t pick up:  fulfillment of hard work. 

I believe that humans NEED work.  We need clearly defined goals and obstacles to those goals.  Without such things, we go a bit mad and perhaps assign importance to trivial things.  In training for a race we have goals and obstacles and no guarantee of success, even if we do everything perfect.  How much better can it get?  Isn’t that real life?

This is the last week before Saturday’s race.  I’m tapering.  It sucks.  But I’ve had time to think. I’ve realized that the pay off, the fulfillment of that hard work, is far greater than the lowered time, increased speed and so on.  

I’ve missed a couple of long training rides and a few short training rides due to various circumstances beyond my control.  I’m not very hopeful of obtaining my goal of a sub-3 hour finish for a 73 mile ride.  Yet, I’m very upbeat and happy.  I can’t wait to lay it out and see what happens.

This is the one year anniversary of my first ever race or any sort.  The December before last year’s race I went on an incredibly long ride, 33 miles (it was by far my longest to date).  I was dying at the end, hurting everywhere and completely gassed.  A friend told me about this particular race, and how it was 73 miles.  I remember thinking, “How could someone do that?”  I spent four months figuring out just that!

During training last year I didn’t struggle with losing weight because I had so much to lose, there was a lot of room for error.  I started at about 240, 60 down from the previous summer.  I felt great, better than I ever imaged I’d feel again.

I didn’t struggle with time to train either.  I just made the time…nothing save a family emergency would get in the way.  I told my boss, “Work will put me in my grave, if I let it.  I’m not attending the meeting, I’m training.“  (This was a weekly meeting, I skipped them all save one because I was tapering that week.)

Now I struggle dropping weight.  But I think I have that figured out.

Now I struggle with time.  I’ve got the confidence to know that I’m devoted and that I won’t slip back into my old lifestyle and I can focus more on work. 

Last year I struggled with confidence.  Can I complete this task?  Will these changes be permanent? 

Last year I struggled with anger and disappointment.  On one hand I was proud and excited, often just surprised by the changes.  But over time I became angry for ever getting so big and out of shape.  I’ve had to forgive myself, and that’s been a hard thing. 

I no longer struggle with confidence…I got this!  How about issues of permanence?  The vast majority of people that keep weight off for a year keep it off for good.  See ya later, 100 pounds. 

Anger?  Yeah, I still have a bit of that.  I still am disappointed with myself for the past 12 years.  But it’s a fire that burns deep; it’s part of who I am.  I have regrets, that shows I’ve learned.  And at mile 60, on Saturday, I’ll be out of glycogen, and my body will be burning fat inefficiently and be ready to revolt.  But, I’ll still have fuel. 

So yes, on Saturday, whether I finish sub-3:00 or not, I’ll be happy.  I’ll be happy that I have the opportunity and ability to participate.  I’ll be happy that I DO participate.  Saturday, I’m going to hurt a bit. 

So totally worth it!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it's all totally worth it.

    I like how you articulate how the challenges change as we take on and meet those first ones.

    So important to be always growing, always moving.