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It Doesn’t Get Easier…

I am not sure who coined the phrase: “It never gets easier, you just get faster”–but it seems as if people really like that one.  I guess I could Google who said it.  Let me Google that for you, right…

[Just kidding. Greg LeMond.]

I guess it means that your intensity level should be that of “hurt” and “hard” ALL the time.  In return for your hurt and hard, you get to be faster as a reward.

Okay, sure. Makes sense to me.

But what if you don’t get faster? [Well, then you must not train hard enough, they say!]

Or (the horror) what if you really don’t care about getting faster–and you do triathlon for (also the horror) the joy of it, the diversity of the sports, the thrill of the experience(s), and the chance to meet new people and take on new adventures.  I actually truly know some people like that.

[And no, they aren’t that weird.]

Deep down, I am just not really one of those people.  Sure, I enjoy the sport. But it runs deeper that that for me.

Triathlon is hard and I want to be good at it, but I don’t know how to do that unless I am putting in all my effort. I don’t know how to get faster unless I am ….. Well, getting faster..

The sheer fact that I can’t run or ride hard right now is maddening.

And that’s not a permanent state…. I will run and ride again (and honestly, it’s not THAT long—two more months?), I know that. But patience sucks. And I don’t know that I will ride and run in time to have enough of a building block for Lake Placid.

That’s the question.

“It doesn’t get easier…”

So I can work with what I have, and lawd knows I am. I have the strangest muscular pain from strength training and core and swimming… So I am doing exactly (freaking exactly) what I can without weight bearing.

Bugger.

Could I go dig myself through Ironman Lake Placid finish in July with only 8-10 weeks of cycling and running?  Sure, why not. I “suspect” I have enough guts and gumption and gall to show up and crawl myself across the finish in barely one piece as I have done before.  After all, I’ve been there, done two of my four Iron distance races (for various reasons, and different circumstances) under awful conditions and I’m not keen on repeating it. ( At least not purposefully. ) The best two timed races were the ones where I was least trained, actually (14:59 and 15:26)… So who the hells knows. What is true??

Could be #BestRaceEver, the 2016 version.

Life and tri is a complete crap shoot.

I found this sport so wonderful in the beginning for a few reasons:  it was hard.  Triathlon was SO unbelievably out of my comfort zone that I felt like a rockstar after ever workout–no matter how big, or no matter how small.  Every victory in the beginning was a huge victory.

I still remember my first mile run.  At the age of thirty-something. Sure, I suffered through the mile runs in PE, and then one random 5k in 2005… But the first mile when I actually finished the whole thing running on my two feet, after kids and work and life and my own voices whispered, “Who do you think you are? You are way too fat and too busy for this sport.”

On I trudged… Right for that one mile.

Gosh, I was so proud of myself. [For all of about 20 seconds.]

ME:  One mile! Hell yeah.

(Twenty seconds later)

ME:  Well, a lot of people can run a mile. Most people, actually. A wow, that was slow. And my feet–how in the hell can they hurt SO badly after just a mile…  And…

And then pretty much the dialogue continued.

Workout after workout, after workout… I would say “GO ME” and then start criticizing myself.  For years.

Why in the world WAS I doing this sport?

“It never gets easier, you just get faster.”

Okay, maybe it’s true.

Until recently.  I don’t have those weird voices any more, or at least not as frequently.  Okay I would be lying if I said I never have them. BUT… They are better.

What HAS gotten easier for me is one thing–the confidence in my ability to take a workout or a plan and execute it.  I can look at workout, no matter how crazy or “hard” it may be–and I have some sense of “okay game on”–and then I go for it.

[What’s the worse that can happen?  I can fail.  And I have failed plenty– I know how to do it well. I can quit. Then I am a quitter for the day. So what…]

And it’s part of who I am now.  Just being a triathlete. Flailing. Falling. Teetering. Waking up. Doing the workouts. Succeeding. Executing. Not so much. So what.

To me, being a triathlete is just part of my life–as much as brushing my teeth these days.  And it’s been a long (relatively speaking…but not THAT long) time, and a lot of weird work.  But so is anything worth doing or having or loving…. It takes a stupid amount of work and insanity.

The attitude of just “do” and not fret is relatively new, I guess, for me. And this has come from somewhere, and I don’t necessarily think it’s confidence or something that simple.

I think it’s more about consistency, and doing something long enough where you don’t have to think about it anymore.

And gratitude.

Even if you aren’t super at something, if you do it enough, you can’t help but become proficient at it.  Or functional.  Not sure if there’s a better word.

But I will say that gratitude is major. Being grateful for a body that can do: X, Y and Z is pivotal.

Even if you don’t love that body, completely or wholly… Even if you are desperately trying to, but failing to love it… Being grateful for what the body you have CAN do…

That is absolutely step one.

And this truth is present when you are MISSING that whole body, as it used to be.

Even 19 pounds ago, I wasn’t injured… So I miss that 19-pound-heavier body at this second… Because at least it could run and ride.

And I didn’t really appreciate that very much back then… I criticized my body.

I don’t see the point of that anymore.

Years of criticizing my efforts and my body has yielded me nothing.

Taking care of my body and eating well and training hard (and consistently) for the past year HAS yielded A LOT.

So that’s what I am grateful for. VERY MUCH SO.

Being grateful for what I have… Right now, has really helped the sting of the injury.  Because I am moving forward… I’m doing something.

In that regard, things DO get easier, and theoretically… Because you are recognizing what is good, being grateful, what you can do–you are working on a premise of “this is progress, even if not my ideal progress.”

And eventually, if you don’t go and do something stupid like get injured (part of this sport, by the way)… You “should” get faster.

And guess what?  That’s cool, too.

But it’s not everything.

If I hit the starting line of Lake Placid, there may be two things that are historically and hauntingly similarly slow and tiring in the history of me–the bike and the run.

BUT…

The things I have been working?  The swim?  My rock hard abs. 🙂 Well, there’s something to test that little quote of Mr. Lemond’s.

I hope I get to find out.

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