…which, I suspect, is really a shame.
Yesterday, on the flight back from the Bay to SLC, I took this pic of Tahoe from the plane:
That’s a big ol’ lake. The second deepest in North America, and cold. And intimidating. The lake is big, and it’s where the Ironman is, and that is big, too. Big, and deep, and cold. And intimidating.
Attempting an IM…
(the astute observer will note that I did NOT say “doing an IM”. I just posted to my training group about how, at least once a week, I get a mindset of utter incredulity, or panic, at the notion of actually being able to complete the distance. It’s simply insane. Swim 2.4 miles? Okay, that I did swim approximately that distance, but it was as a single event, and it took me way over two hours of time in the water. Bike 112 miles? That sounds difficult, but doable – but trying it on the Tahoe course just sounds like a fancy way to wind up laying beside the road in paroxyms of cramps. A marathon? Sure, I’ve done three of those, but it’s been over twenty years since I ran a marathon.
Doing them all on the same day? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN SMOKING?)
…means doing something so large that it eats up a lot of time. It’s a big deal precisely because it is a big deal. If it were easy, then why do it? But I don’t think I was aware of how much time it would take – and how, periodically, I would feel drained and gumptionless.
Some of the time I’m okay with this – I mean, the whole idea is that I’m going to be doing something anyway. I might as well be training. To quote (or misquote, depending on my memory) Cool Hand Luke, “Aw, heck – it’s just sumpthin’ to do”. As the oldtimers told Delton when he was upset about having to spend his weekends in jail, “Aw, heck, Delton, everybody’s gotta be somewhere”. Human experience simply is, and it is for twenty-four hours every day. It’s gonna be training, or sitting, or doing something else.
But sometimes, when I’m feeling dragged down, or when I realize how much slower I am running now than a year ago (after doing triathlon training since last October) and when I see that my weight is STUCK because I’m always hungry, I get discouraged. Being discouraged is not a bad thing – the best thing that ever happened to me was when I became discouraged about my ability to control my drinking. Being discouraged makes plenty of sense when courage doesn’t make sense. And courage doesn’t make sense when what one is doing can’t work, or when the cost is too high.
So when I start thinking that it’s simply not possible for me to train up to, and complete, IMLT (that’s “IronMan Lake Tahoe”, for those of you who aren’t down with the acronyms) then I can start feeling the discouragement seeping in. And when I start thinking about the cost, I get discouraged, as well. I mean, this thing takes all day.
It takes all day until I reach a point where I am really tired, and then I can’t do much. And then just recovering takes all of my effort.
So IronMan training becomes the central effort in my life. And that seems wrong somehow. Now, it doesn’t become the most IMPORTANT thing – that, of course, is breathing. But the thing about breathing is that it generally doesn’t take much effort, so one is able to attend to the second or third most important things, all the way down the line.
But when something disrupts that order, then at that point the effort of the something requires it to move up the chain – the cost is higher now. Are you still willing to pay it? Because it will mean giving something else up. That’s the way that priorities get shuffled. I don’t really believe that it’s a conscious process – at least, not in my case.
So right now I’m taking a day off from training. I didn’t intend to do that – it just sort of happened. I have another triathlon this weekend – an Olympic distance (it says it is, although the bike is 4 miles short). My coach buddy told me to do a “mini-taper”. I don’t know how to “taper”. I either train, or I’ve stopped training. I reckon tomorrow morning I’ll do a bit of something or other….just to keep fresh.
Who knows? Maybe my experience this weekend, in what I think of as a “QuarterMan” (over a third of the swim, about a fifth of the bike, and about a fourth of the run) might encourage me, or it might discourage me. Perhaps a reasonable, mature guy would not allow progress (or lack thereof) to dis- or en-courage him; I really don’t know if such an attitude is persistence, or denial.
Suddenly I’m thinking that I should maybe get on the bike for an easy 45 minutes or so this afternoon.
I am at the mercy of whim, mood, fatigue and projection : )