Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Not waving, but running.

In my formative years, I spent a lot of time reading.

I spent a lot of time with words, mostly those written by what could be considered as part of the Western Civilization canon, but also some other writing with a less familiar, more esoteric (read eastern) nascence. And I did so in several languages - some of which I can no longer remember.

There are a lot of those words and turns of phrases and images swimming around in my head and every so often, one or six pop out of me. The result is not unlike the experiences of a teenager rubbing up against something not altogether unpleasant. The expression from others is similar too.

Sometime after I "grew up", however, and started getting paid to write corporatese, I lost that voracious appetite for reading, absorbing and, occasionally ejaculating, as it were, these great thoughts I had synthesized from others.

One phrase, however stuck. It was from a poem I only noticed because my lover was reading it as part of an assignment a few years ago.

Not waving, but drowning.  I won't go into any analysis or discussion, of this work, or Stevie Smith. But the image has stuck with me. I assimilated it as I was taking up this new sport of triathlon and trying to balance young family and jobs. Maybe that is why is resonated with me.

I pictured myself, at times, in the middle of a the sea,  not quite sure if I was waving back to those on the beach or trying to get their attention.

Well, I didn't drown.

I didn't get a DNS or a DNF (Did Not Start/Finish) but I did get a DND - Did Not Drown on my way to my Iron goals that I met thrice.

Still. I find myself in an unsure gesticulation.

Injured and annoyed by it, I have chronicled my attempt to get back on track (while avoiding the track and trying to spend time on the trail.)

Running beside from friends from Western Cycle in -7C on April 17, 2011.
This past Sunday, I entered and ran in the Regina Police Service Half Marathon. I ran this race many years ago as my first ever half. I still use it as a touchstone of where I am physically and mentally.

I have run it in more than 2:37 hours and less than 1:58.
Here is a link to my race report for a more technical, less introspective analysis.

I did try to run it at 1:45 last year, but a very bad flu the week before caught up with me halfway in the race and the wheels came off at 14k, even though I was very much on pace.

This year, injured, tired, and a little fed up, I ran this race just because. Just to see what I can do with very little training. I ran it in 2:07 and change. Not amazing. But I was expecting to take 2:20 something. It is interesting that this race was the day before a world record setting Boston Marathon, in which a number of friends competed very successfully.

Photo Credit Paul Cutting
What is amazing is that I ran completely with myself.

I listened to my body.

There were times I told it to HTFU or to STFU. Other times, I yielded and stopped to pee.

But I was at peace during this run. I was in control. The pain in my heel was there. The burning in my calf was manageable and predictable. The increase and decreases of pace came when I requested them.

I didn't stress when I was passed. And I didn't revel when I passed.

The little voices in my head kept me company and distracted me, rather than discouraging me, as they used to.

This was a good run.
This was a great race.  I became one with my body and made peace with my running demons. 

I won the only race that was important to me. 

Friday, 8 April 2011

It's time.

This morning, I scraped ice of my car's windscreen and marvelled at the gossamer-thin shavings of ice. So delicate that a single breath with melt them in mid air as they blew away. In my had, it felt like the must luxurious fabric that disappeared into tiny water drops the moment I blinked.

Then I wondered why I was driving still to work. Why was I not yet on my bike? A few short weeks ago I was living the life of a full time cyclist in St. George, Utah. Everything I did was centred around the bike ride. The eating, the lounging, the washing, the blogging and even the Facebooking. It was all about ride that day, or the one that would be the following day.

Then I returned home. the more than 600 km of riding the highways of southwest Utah became no more than a memory of red rock, smiling faces and Veyo Pies.

It was easy to fall back into the old ways - the ways that I've relearned during this easy year of making excuses and making allowances for my aching foot.

It has been easy. Possibly, it has been the worst winter I've ever experience in my almost two decades on the prairies. It is not that it has been colder than ever...it was just always cold and windy and just gross. Spring was shown itself to be no different. Second week of April and it is still just gross and cold and windy.

In previous years, with an Ironman as a motivator,  I had no problem fighting through this inertia. It was a case of train now or show up for the race and experience even more unnecessary pain.

Out the window right now,  the morning sun has gone into hiding behind thick cloud. and it is cold again. Mind you "April cold, not January cold", it is all relative.

But it is time.

It is time to break out the commuting bike. It is time to ramp up the mileage on the run. It is time to spend more time in the pool. It is time to get back on the highway with the Dirty Girl!

It is time to rip open this Jamaican coffee that I've been saving, because it, like me, isn't getting any better just sitting around in a burlap bag.

Why? Well, it isn't really because I have lots of "little" races coming quickly in this "easy" year of mine.

It is because I've seen this pattern of slippage before. In an earlier life, years went by before I even acknowledged the unstoppable slide into decrepitude, the slide into someone that I never want to be again.

That is not a place I want to even visit again. The pain in my foot, the crappy weather, the lame excuses. They really are nothing more than a way to avoid returning to the race. Not any particular race. The race that has no start or finish line. The race that has no competitors and no spectators and no volunteers.

This is a race that has no medals at the end, no technical shirt or other swag and no food along the way. This is a race that finds you in a corridor of doors and mirrors. It is full of choice. But when you sit down and ponder...you still have to look at yourself and where you are. I have to. I have to figure out where to put my focus lest I return to my previous state of cosmopsis.

I find it very interesting that at this date exactly last year I was musing the same thoughts, albeit with a much more positive outlook. Even the theme of that blog was the same "Is it time yet?"

Maybe it is a cyclical thing. Maybe I require a certain amount of natural lumens from the sun before I can kick myself into action. Time will tell. Time will come Time will pass.

It's time.