But then I realized that I was making a HUGE mistake by thinking about the blog in these terms. Leave the metrics analysis to beginnertriathlete.com, because the blog is all about the intangibles. Intangibles like a year's worth of self discovery. A years worth of self-confidence building. And year's worth of an education.
When I thought about the last year in these terms, I felt a little guilty that my initial reaction was what it was. Had I not started this blog, I probably still done the same amount of training & racing. But there is no way it would have been as fun, it's doubtful that I would have improved as much as I did and I definitely wouldn't have pushed myself as far as I did.
I just e-read my first post for the first time in long while. It was definitely a little uncomfortable to read. I don't remember writing it, but I know where I was trying to coming from. Some of it reads a little bit arrogantly. But I know myself, and that arrogance was fear. I knew I was well on the way to leaving my old life behind and embracing a new one, but I wasn't yet convinced that it would stick. I was also afraid I couldn't do it, but still wasn't exactly sure what "it" was. But there is definitely a fire in my writing. And when I sat down last October to write it, I was writing with a fire that I had not had in a long, long time. I was naive but determined, and boy did it show.
The one passage that stood out was this one:
"Because when I was younger, I didn't worry about falling off a cliff. Snowstorm and no climbing partner? No problem!! That was the stupidity of my youth. But this last March, cold toes and heartburn kept me from a summit in the Sierra Nevada. It was a clear day and about as safe as a winter alpine climb could possibly be. But I got in a staring contest mortality and blinked first. The cold and my discomfort where convenient excuses. That's the stupidity of middle age."This is the most honest thing I wrote that day. The problem with it is that I was wrong. Forget the failed summit bid, that's not important. Where I got sideways was when I said that "I got in a staring contest with mortality and blinked first". This never happened - I got in a staring contest with my own self doubt and was more than happy to acquiesce. THAT's the stupidity of middle age.
But I didn't figure out that I was wrong on my own. Which leads to the most important thing that this blog has given me - new friends. And these are friendships that are as solid as any friendship I could ever have despite the fact you live all over the world and we've never actually met.
I can't count how many times I've picked up a good tip or a great piece of advice from your blogs. I can't count how many times that you've helped me realize that we are just normal people working to make our bodies and our minds do remarkable things. On the personal side, I've never been as happy or as sad as I have been after reading some of the things that you have shared. And every day, there is usually an e-mail side conversation or two with you guys that has a way of really making my day.
But a lot comes from things that aren't said, at least directly. When I read between the lines of your blogs, I find that we are not so different from each other. Because there is a common thread of dedication and determination in what we do. How we share ourselves on the blogs has the power to subordinate just about anything else we may disagree on. And besides that, I have this theory that endurance athletes we are a little bit more tolerant about the ways of the world, regardless of what we personally believe. I think this is because as endurance athletes, we make a connection with our lives that tends to make the more trivial things not matter as much.
Which puts me back on that mountain a few years ago. There was no Grim Reaper dressed in North Face gear and Goretex over boots. I just didn't have the right friends yet. Now I do, and I'm not afraid to push it.
Thank you for an incredible year.