Wow. There’s so much I want to write about — I’ve had some crazy awesome training over the past week, a bunch of it with Coach Irondad – but I have to write one thing at a time, and I have to start somewhere. So I’ll start with the first thing that comes to mind, and that is the sting of so often being the fattest and the slowest.
As you know, my life sort of imploded this year. From August through October, I was pretty much in survival mode. I ate whatever I wanted (and didn’t track it), I barely exercised, my sleep schedule was whack, and I certainly was not using my Game Plan. Result: I gained back more than 20 pounds and lost most of my fitness.
But since then, things have improved. I’m settling into my new job and getting back on the wagon a little bit at a time. And I’ve been trying to take advantage of my LA Tri Club membership, because it’s easier and more fun to do long workouts with a group (and because open water swimming solo is not terribly safe).
But the truth is, I’m really not in good enough shape to keep up. I tried an ocean swim a couple of weeks ago and had to cut it short when I could no longer see the group (in fairness, I did tell them to go on without me because I didn’t want to keep holding them up). I did a group ride on PCH this past Saturday and I believe they waited for me for at least 15 minutes (maybe longer) at the turnaround point, because I rode so much more slowly than everyone else.
Now, I’ve never been fast, and I don’t really ever expect to be. Even at my best, I was at the back of the pack. But I have to say, it really stings to be working so hard and still coming up short. The feelings always come in stages:
1) Panic as I start to fall behind. (Oh man, I can’t go at the pace they’re going! What’s going to happen?)
2) Irrational blaming of others. (Alex is pushing the pace, with those crazy long legs of his! or They said this route was going to be flat!)
3) Self-loathing. (This always happens. I am the worst. I am a fat slob. Why do I kid myself and even try these things?)
4) Ridiculous determination. (Well, I am just going to run 5 miles, uphill, every day for a year until I’m amazing and this never happens to me again!)
5) Acceptance. (Ok, I’m just gonna swallow my pride, gut it out and finish this, and try again next time.)
Now I KNOW (in my head, if not in my heart) that the last bit is the most important. I know it’s about finishing and doing my best, and not about competing with anyone besides myself. I know that the athletes and friends with whom I train are kind and compassionate people who mean it when they say that it’s ok, and they’ll wait for me, and they hope I come out again.
That doesn’t really stop it from stinging. It’s no fun, being the fattest and the slowest. The only solution, though, is to keep working at it – both my fitness, and my feelings. And that’s one of the things I love about triathlon, constantly working at pushing out of my comfort zone and becoming someone I really like.