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.

1 comment:

  1. Carrie (lobsteriffic)6 May 2010 at 08:21

    Hey, I haven't visited in awhile and just read this post now. It really struck home with me. I've been thinking very two dimensionally lately re: training. Thanks for the perspective.

    (And at the risk of sounding like a major geek, geometry was always my favourite part of math class)


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