Friday, January 17, 2014

Clawing My Way Back to the Middle

I've recently become reacquainted with Hazel, my trusty steed (bike). Hazel and I have been through a lot. We've trained together, we've raced together, we've fallen together, and we've gotten back up together. After Augusta, though, I never wanted to see Hazel again. I was tired of her, and from the way she was handling there at the end, she was pretty darn sick of me, too. So, I put us on a break. I stuck her in the back of the garage, and thought nothing of her for about 4 months, until I had to start thinking about her again when I signed up for a race this coming spring.

I don't love cycling. I have never loved being on a bicycle. I didn't love it when I tooled around my neighborhood on the ugly lime green bike with the horrible 70's banana seat, I didn't love it when I traversed the UF campus and dodged pedestrians during my freshman year on the pretty red 10-speed that my dad got me for graduation, and I really didn't love it when I had to fight traffic my junior and senior years at UF on the cheap green Huffy mountain bike that I had bough at Walmart to replace the pretty red 10-speed that I abandoned on campus two years earlier.

I didn't even learn to ride a bike until I was almost 10 years old. Isn't THAT sad? I was diving, doing the backstroke, and maneuvering flip turns at 5 years old, but I couldn't ride a two-wheeled bike until puberty.  

Sometimes I wonder why I decided to take on triathlon. Knowing full well that I would have to get on a bike and not only ride it proficiently, but that I would have to do it for countless hours and miles, I still dove in and went for triathlon with breathless enthusiasm. It was a love affair that lasted until I was training for a Half Ironman, and after the umpteenth 3 hour bike ride, dodging rednecks in beat-up pick up trucks on the rural roads of North Florida, that I finally realized that me and bikes are not friends.

My husband LOVES riding a bike. Ever since I met him, he has been a bike junkie. He loved mountain biking when we first met, and now he loves long Sunday rides on the open road (though, I think he still prefers his first mountain bike, a blue Raleigh with a Primus sticked emblazoned on the fork. You never forget your first, after all.). Now, 20-something years later, his love for the pastime has not wavered.

I have made it one of my resolutions to learn to love my bike this year. I am determined to develop strength on the bike, and I am determined to develop a fondness for cycling in general. 

So, I have climbed back on to my incredibly uncomfortable saddle, and I have been taking Hazel out for morning and afternoon rides, chilly wind be damned. I am amazed at how much bike fitness I lost in the last four months, and I am struggling to maintain a speed that would keep me in the middle of the pack. But I will not give up on Hazel, and I won't let her give up on me. And I will be back in the middle of the pack come April, when I race at St. Anthony's.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The "L" Word

As of late, I have been practicing really, really hard at something, and have gotten really, really good at it.  I have been honing my craft, working to elevate it to its highest form or artistic representation.

I have been working toward becoming the laziest person on planet Earth.  And if not planet Earth, at least the laziest person in my area code.

It has literally become too much effort to work out.  And, many of you might want to kill me for saying this, I have loved every minute of it.

Augusta, as I have discussed ad nauseum, took a ton out of me, physically and mentally.  But I don't think it was just Augusta and the training leading up to it that did me in.  It was the past 3 1/2 years.  When I started running, I literally hit the ground running, and never stopped.  For 3 years, I was always training for something.  The training was everything I needed at the time, thanks to a terrible professional situation that was the focal point of my life (and my family's life) for 2 years.  Training helped me work out the stress, anger, and anxiety of that situation.  And I think Augusta was the finish line for a lot of things, figuratively speaking.  It was a culmination of this epic (sorry for the overused verbiage) life transformation that I thrust upon myself, and it was the release of a great many personal demons.  And those demons plopped themselves down, front and center, during the holidays.

With nothing to train for (at the time), I was left a little aimless in my fitness endeavors.  But I was also left with the baggage of the last few years, and realizing that I had never really, truly dealt with any of it, I hit a wall of emotions and anger that took me a bit by surprise.  This, of course, left me feeling physically weak and unmotivated to do anything about it.

I know, I know.  I should have hit the pavement and worked it out through training.  Believe me, I know just how beneficial training is for depression and anxiety.  But the more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder if all of the training I have done for the last 3 years wasn't just a way for me to push aside the real issues I needed to look in the eye, a way for me to focus on something besides my internal pain, a kind of a band-aid.

I continue to enjoy my little hiatus from the world of "crushing it".  It has given me a lot of time to think, and think some more, about where I've been, where I am now, and where I am going.  I don't want to give up what I have spent the last 3 years working so hard for, because it has become a part of me, but I do want to make sure that I am doing it in order to become a better person, and not just to put a mask on the person that I already am.  Does that even make sense?  

And so, I have 4 more days of my lazy bliss before I begin training for my next race.  I am excited to dive in, I am excited to work hard, and I am excited to look at everything through new eyes.  My journey is continuing, just on a slightly more beaten path.