Friday, July 22, 2011

A Retraction

Well, I stuck my sweaty-smellly foot in my mouth. What I meant to say in that last post was actually more along the lines of: "I always feel like I fail. Why is that? Maybe it's time to try a new approach to training" instead of what it must have come across as: finger pointing.

I really just miss the pride that comes from running well. Or cycling well. Or swimming well (which is, believe me, very rare.) I'm not really happy about anything anymore. I'm mostly just lonely, trying to train, trying to write something that will be worth reading someday. I don't know-- maybe I should just give up on everything I've set out to do....

So that's what I meant to say in my last post. I stick to a much, much earlier post I wrote about this team being great. One of the last days I was actually happy with myself was a day I ran with them, around a track at night and felt like I was flying.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heraclitus said there needs always to be change: Change There Shall be, Ever and Always

And so here I am: uninjured at last. I have two thriving Achilles tendons, an increased capacity to cycle and swim in addition to my running legs which are returning to normal. I should be happy. And for those things, I am.

But you know, I've come to find that life-- whether it's an athletic life or any other kind-- is mono-directional. In other words, your path may wander like a stream, but you can never go back to some prior time, or some prior you. Too much has changed in the intervening moments. I will never be the athlete I was; I can only be the athlete I am. 

This topic comes to mind because I was supposed to workout with the Strawberry Canyon Track Club today-- for the second time since I've healed from my injury. It was all set: I would drive from where I live and work in the East Bay and begin the tempo run with the group at 6:00 pm in Berkeley. My coach knew I was coming, and I was excited to try a new chunk of terrain than I'd been covering in recent weeks.

It didn't surprise me that there was traffic. Bay Area + 5:30 pm rarely renders anything but. What did surprise me was what I saw when I arrived at 6:09 pm-- an empty track.

Nine minutes, my coach had left me.

Granted, he said the workout started at 6:00 pm and I had failed to arrive at promptly that time.  But there was something about that-- being left behind-- that stung more than I thought it could. I've had coaches wait on me before (not in some diva-move of showing up late on purpose)....but in my past, I've had buses held, workouts postponed (if with unkind words. But those coaches were there, regardless. They still wanted me to participate, to compete, to train.) This is the first time in my life as an athlete that I'd simply been left behind. 

It was as though I didn't matter.

It crossed my mind that this is probably because I am, right now, not that great of an athlete. I am not particularly strong (though I'm coming back) nor particularly fast. It's not impressive to run 16 miles under 2 hours at 6200' and then cycle 60 miles over mountain passes, averaging 17mph. Most people can do that, I guess. But the point is I couldn't before, and I did that this past Saturday. I'm progressing and I thought that's what sports are all about. But I guess there really are members of teams who just don't matter, no matter how far they have come.

And apparently, I've become one of them-- the invisible ones.

Or not. When I pulled myself together enough so that I could drive home, I realized that maybe this is a good thing. I'm not going back to what I was: I will become something else. Wiser (let's hope, right?) or maybe stronger. Maybe I'll commit to doing that Ironman Triathlon I've been talking about for years. Maybe I will find a coach who likes me and believes in me. Or maybe it's time for me to train myself. Whatever the outcome, it's up to me to turn this challenge into an opportunity-- to change sadness to hope. To keep pushing forward to be the best person I can be. Even if that person is the slowest one in the pack.

Image: Sura Nualpradid /