Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Failure?...or this is where two dimensional reasoning gets you.

I was thinking about a high school geometry class earlier today. I spend a lot of time thinking about triangles. More specifically, I was thinking about points.

One point is a point in time/space. 
Two points make a line.
Three points create (potentially) a three-dimensional plane - although the math guru I spawned  would say: "but do not necessarily define a line -- they may not be collinear."
To summarize:  You need three points, at least if you are going to watch Avatar in 3D. You'll probably also need those geeky glasses too, though.

So after I sat down and let the blood rush back to my brain after these esoteric thoughts mathematical , I started to put into perspective a half marathon I ran on the weekend.  My goal was to finish in under two hours. I finished in 2 hours, 3 minutes and change. My personal best for that course is 1:58:48, my first ever run at that distance - and that course was 2:40 and change.

Ignoring the fact that I have been training for my first Marathon (two Ironman finishes don't count) at the end of May and am not completely focused on speed, I initially felt like I failed.

Of course I failed. All the other cool kids are running 1:40s or 1:50s...So what if I'm "big boned" and still running heavy and asthmatic and not very fast over long distances.  I still wanted to get from point A to point B in less than two hours, and I failed. didn't I?

Well. This is why I started thinking about geometry and Euclid, or was that Pythagoras - some Greek in any case. I became aware that my goals have been too two dimensional. I've been thinking about two points, when I should be thinking about three, or four or more.

My goals, as obtuse as they may sometimes seem, are so much more than point A to point B. They involve so many more dimensions, including time - but not necessarily finish time. They include building a healthy life, growing with my family, shrinking girth, and genuinely learning from the journey.

When I crossed the finish line,  I was disappointed. But I have to look at all the individual segments or points of the run  including the points that I was running a 4 minute/km pace; the preparation for it;  the ongoing prep for the full marathon in May and the sprint triathlon in two weeks. Oh and the rest of life that never goes on pause.

I realize that this triangle may not be as easily defined as  a2 + b2 = c2, but it has more relevance to what I'm doing than I first assumed. 

For those of you that are mathematically inclined, you will recall that a sum of a triangle's angles add up to 180 degrees. As I was running 21.1k, preparing to run 42.2k, it became acutely obvious to me that I would be seeing that 180 number before the run...180k bike ride in late August. Coincidence? Hmmm.There are no coincidences!

It is time to pull up my big boy tri shorts and HTFU. I started this journey because I grew tired of looking like a cuddly rhombus. It is not individual races or goals of finish times that motivate me. It is doing the training and building structures, physical, intellectual and emotional where none previously existed. And learning as much about myself in the process as I can.

No, not failure. Eureka!
I'd better get out of the bathtub now.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Is it time yet?

The great Orson Welles, after he became great "topographically", as well, did a series of tv ads for a wine company urging that no wine will be sold before it is time.

That catch phrase comes to mind a lot this time of year as I start to look forward to increasing the training I have to do and the races for which I have to prepare.
For the most part, the snow has melted. Yesterday,  I ran in shorts. I had my first tri-bike ride on the highway and the bike commuting to work has begun. Swimming outdoors is still two months away - even with a wetsuit, however.

I'm fully aware that the weather may change and I may have to return to doing all my training indoors again, albeit, for a few days. But that would be little more than a minor setback.

But is it time yet? For the first-time triathlete or endurance athlete, getting ready for the first season is all about focus on one thing - getting to the event ready to compete...or win...or survive.

For the athlete with one or three or more race seasons under her race belt, this is a time of prepping for balance. Balance between disciplines. Nutritional balance. Work-life balance. Most importantly, family balance. This is one thing that I'm still trying to learn.

In my first year, I tried to not sacrifice family time by just getting up earlier and earlier. So I was on the trail or on my bike at 5 or 6 am. This worked. (Sorta worked the woman I share my bed with would add). I missed lots. And the long runs and bike rides taking me out of the house for 5 to 7 hours did just that...kept me out of the house.

This year is going to be more about planning time around family. Including them in the training when possible, but being much more flexible when I do what I need to do to show up to the event ready to compete...or survive.

A big part of this is remembering not to stress if I miss a planned training session.

Stick to plan, that is wise
When you can't, improvise!

Catchy phrases aside, I have a sneaking hunch that this is going to be a great year for me both athletically and emotionally. I'm really looking forward to pushing myself hard to see what the third time at the big race will yield.

I'm even more looking forward to relaxing hard with those around me and thriving on their love and energy.

So, with respect to ramping up my training, yes, it is certainly time.

With respect to figuring out how to do this and not miss out on life, it's about time!