Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Insanity to the Nth--plus one.

“The thoughts written on the walls of madhouses by their inmates might be worth publicizing.”

~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Pedaling upon the Burke-Gilman trail towards school. Legs burning. The whirring sound of my tires and the creaking of my old aluminum frame compete with my thoughts for the virtual stage. The microphone picks up nothing but static.

In the distance the sun rises, for the trillionth time I wonder?? Seeing the same rising sun as the first humans, I stop and wonder for a moment if this is something I should be taking more seriously. I wonder if I take everything too seriously.

Over the last four weeks I have ridden 4 centuries, run over 100 miles, swam over 20 miles, and eaten more than my body weight.

I rode the Urban Assault race as hard as I could, but we only came up with a 6th place finish. I really wanted that one.

The next weekend we went to Bellingham for the Ski to Sea race, which was on Sunday. I was doing the mountain bike leg--my first time. Its a 14.5 mile leg as hard as you can possibly ride. I rode it on Saturday this way, then ran a few miles around lake padden. The next morning I woke up and spent most of the day waiting for my turn. When I got the baton, I rode into a division win and 32nd overall out of 416. The next day, Monday, I set a PR for 110 miles on my tri bike and then ran 8 miles.

My body has, as my friend and triathlete mentor Jeremy Gerking put it best "...found the razor's edge, and stayed there..." for a month.

I have done workouts in consecutive weeks that have simulated the Ironman wipe-out experience so well, I almost felt as though I needed a month off after one of these monsters. But the next week I would show up, ready to roll. In the process I found new depths of strength and endurance, courage and tolerance for pain. All good things in the Ironman Triathletes weapon cache.

I have made it through another ridiculously hard training season. Ironman is now 15 days away and I am in full-on taper mode. It almost feels weird not to be sitting here already worried about my 112 mile ride with 3500 vertical feet of climbing followed by a 12 mile run... I almost feel like I am cheating. Until I think back to last weekend, when I did just that, and then I can't help but be a little sad that once again, its almost all over.

Except for one last thing. Ironman itself.

For all the training and fatigue and emotions--the race is still where it all is headed, it is still the focus. Don't lose that focus, not ever. The instant you do, you get swallowed up and spit out by Ironman.

I made my plan.
I am training my plan.
I can't wait to race it.

Until next time...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Castles Made of Sand

"I've been imitated so well I've heard people copy my mistakes."

~Jimi Hendrix

How long have I been listening? The music of intimidation, the song of insecurity, the gospel of graduate school.

I have listened to the lectures and the speeches and the seminars.

I have listened to defenses and breathing capitalist info-mercials.

I have heard the gospel and the sermon, the prayer and the confession.

The sound of failure and survival over the years has begun to sound the same, the soul among these voices almost non-existent. Am I destined to become one of these? Will my ultimate comfort some day be the sound of my own voice like it is for those around me?


It is the 18th week of Ironman training.
I am strong and getting quicker, but approaching each workout takes its own brand of strength and conviction. Each time I step to the edge of the pool, each time I snap into my pedals, each time I lace up the running shoes; determined, yet afraid. The rain, the cold, the wind-- yet again. Hours and hours. The fatigue of each pedal stroke to pass over yet another hill. The numbness in my toes and fingers. Again and again I push the limits of my willingness to perform at an unprecedented level (for me) in the hopes of... what was it again?

There is never enough sleep. Never enough time. Only more to do, more pushing and exerting. More thinking and planning. More organizing. More more and finally, more.

Eating, sleeping, working, training. I become Microsoft Outlook.


This morning I took 5 minutes to watch my dog after her morning walk. She rolls over in her bed that is too small for her and glances at me, upside down, her paws flapping around the ends of her legs like rubber. Her lips are hanging back from her doggy gums to reveal her dirty canine incisors. She sneezes. Surprised even at herself, she whirls herself up and shakes vigorously, her tags and emblems rattling on her collar. She looks at me and blinks, head cocked over and ears perked up.
I look at her and smile and appreciate the simplicity of her life.