|Party Days. Thankfully the low light hides my 3 chins. Yes, that's Steven Adler from Guns N' Roses I am devil horning. This must be 2006 or 2007.|
Thursday's Dana Point Turkey Trot 10K will be my last race of the year and will officially conclude my second year of racing. Though I have not run the race yet and anything can happen, I am theoretically capable of beating last year's time 8 minutes. Regardless, the 2010 season has already had it's share of highlights - I competed in two Olympic distance races this season for starters. And mixed into a fairly busy race schedule were two sprint distance races that I also did last year. In both races I improved my finishing times by at least 15 minutes in each over 2009.
Though I'm thrilled with the progress, I realize that my gains where based primarily on an increased level of fitness (where I started from nothing), and decreased weight (where I started from really heavy). And though I'm not suggesting there isn't any additional room for physical improvement, I really don't expect similar gains next year. Perhaps a better way to say this is that I don't expect the same type of gains next year. For one, I (thankfully) don't have very much more weight to lose. And I think it's realistic to assume that gains in fitness will start coming at a slower pace now that I am in some sort of decent shape.
Don't get me wrong, the bar will be raised. I'll be going longer (Hawaii 70.3) and taking part in new sorts of challenges (Hood To Coast Relay). I'm calling 2011 "a year of good racing" and I can't wait for it to start. I'd love to come out of next year with great achievements and even greater memories. But as far as "gains" performance or otherwise? I'm about to walk into the world of the intangibles, I think.
I find all this very exciting, actually.
My wife and I went to see Ian's class sing at an assembly at his school last Friday. I was running a little late (being a triathlete doesn't fix everything), so I didn't get a seat right away. But as the other classes finished up their performances, parents started to rotate out of the auditorium and I was able to get a seat next to Mary. She started telling me about the guy she was just sitting next to. Apparently, he was telling her all about some sort of special light found on aircraft carriers that he invented. He also let it slip that he is the Hollywood go-to guy when someone needs to play Gorbachev in a film. He then asked her what "her husband" did and where he was, in an attempt (I'm assuming) to ascertain if the old dog had an opportunity. She said I worked in the music/apparel business and was also on my way to kick his ass out of the seat. Sorry, Mikhail.
I thought about how my wife described me. She's not wrong, of course, but I'm not sure I see myself that way anymore. Later that night I asked her if she wouldn't mind describing me as a triathlete who happened to work in the music/apparel industry. I immediately regretted asking, for it's one of those thoughts that sounds noble in my head but pretentious from my lips. But like I said, I am realizing that this is how I identify myself these days.
Of course, feeling this way is further proof that I am hooked by the endurance sports lifestyle. And though I have a recently developed tendency to be wary of anything that feels remotely "addictive", I suppose swimming, biking and running still beats Jack Daniels on any time. And besides, I like the affiliation to endurance sports. I'm prouder of this than anything I've done in a long while. Sure, there is controversy in the sport and I sense a commercialization coming that may not be to my taste. But at the end of the day, when I'm out there doing what I do, it's me, my thoughts and the road. In a lot of ways the only difference between a race and training is a number on my belt. I love this.
|Self Portrait 6345627|
Think about it: Outside of injury (which could just as easily happen to you while training), what's the worst thing that can happen in a race? You don't finish? You don't go as fast as you wanted? Well, after you calm down a little bit, your character will kick in and you will be gracious in your defeat. Your confidence will kick in and you will start planning for the next race. And your positive view of life will take hold and you'll find a way to make the best of your day. No big deal, right?
Of course in the outside world, you face real life. The stakes are bigger, the challenges are greater and the potential for real heartbreak is always (unfortunately) just around the corner. When life gets tough, won't you be glad you have the coping skills you learned from endurance sports? Because in times like those, character, confidence, and the ability to find happiness will go a long way.
So though I doubt I'll come out of 2011 a 4 minute miler, I can certainly work on training for (and improving) my metrics of life.