Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The unknown

There is a reason I hate my light training days. I know that rest and recovery is one of the most important aspects of training. But even still, days off? I hate them with a passion. My off days or light days often leave me sitting around, checking facebook 25 times per hour, staring at my email screen hoping someone will send me something, and binging on chocolate (Easter candy abounds in our suite right now, and my stomach hurts). I know I should be doing homework. But then again, it's easy to say that I'll do it later. It is outlandishly boring for me to sit around. Sportscenter loops and repeats the same highlights every hour, and the only person I know who tweets every 5 minutes is my buddy Brendan Housler. I don't know if it's because of the lack of endorphins, or due to the fact that easy days usually find me tired and/or injured, but I find myself lost in my thoughts, and I cannot look at things like I can when I feel the positive energy that results from a day of hard training. Reflection is reflection, though, nonetheless, and is important. Today, as I sit here, I'm slightly injured (achilles issues-- wrong pedals? Too much float? Worn out cleats? Too much gear mashing? Too much bike mileage? Too much run mileage? Worn out running shoes? Saddle too high? I don't know, but it's frustrating), slightly tired, and reflecting on my current situation and near and long term future.

I have five and a half weeks until I graduate from University. How do I feel about this? Well, I am not really sure. When I set out on this journey four years ago, I had an idea of what would come to pass during my college career, and the fact of the matter is that very little of that vision has been realized. The way it ended up working out was different, yet it has been beautiful. It worked out this way for a reason, I suppose, and it's brought me to this place here. Once I got to U of R, things have been wonderful, and I am truly thankful for my time here. I'm happy where I am here, yet lately I've been feeling a bit stale. I can tell, deep down, that it is time to leave, to move on to something new. I love this place, but I am getting sick of it. I had this feeling four years ago as I was finishing up high school. I did move on to a new place after high school, to have new adventures, and it was an awful experience, so I'm apprehensive about doing that again. However, I know that it is time to try it again.

Everyone I talk to asks me the question about my plans for next year, etc. The fact of the matter is that I have no long term plans or goals, per say. I have no idea what I want to do for a career. All I know is that I want to pursue things I am passionate about. Many of you know that I want to be a professional triathlete. I know how hard this will be to achieve. The fact of the matter is that I am not fast. Chris McCormack? That guy is fast. These guys who are racing as juniors? They are fast. Lance Armstrong is fast. I am not a guy who raced fast when he was 16, I am not a freak of nature. For all intents and purposes, the Lance-types out there are freaks of nature. They are phenoms. They are the type that started racing, and immediately started kicking people's asses. Terenzo Bozzone broke the course record at Wildflower by 6 minutes at age 20. Indeed, I often do find myself wishing I had this level of talent. Maybe I don't, but that's not something I can change. Everything I have accomplished has been the result of a huge amount of hard work. I am a work-ethic athlete. I know that although most of the top athletes are these sorts of freakish athletes, hard work yields results. This is what I believe, and I believe that if I chase my dreams with enough persistence, I will be able to get there some day.

Even this is easier said than done, however. If you are not one of these top guys getting a lot of sponsor money, you have to train whilst working a job. This is not conducive to recovery, but it has to happen, regardless. In order to pull this off successfully, you have to be very smart about your training. A seasoned professional coach can help with this, but of course if you are barely staying afloat and keeping the lights on, it's tough to afford one of those. It's a tough situation to be in: triathlon is a sport where money can buy you speed; it can buy you coaching plans, it can buy you super-fast equipment; it can buy you entry fees into big races. It would be awesome if someone came out of the woodwork and said "hey, I'll coach you, don't worry about money," or "hey, ride this bike for me and go super-fast," but unfortunately that's not how things work.

It is my hope that if I put enough heart and effort into this dream of mine, I will be able to achieve my goals. I know they are lofty, but I truly believe I can do it. I have shown glimpses of potential. However, I have been injured so many times, it's been difficult to truly get anywhere. I have not given up yet, and I don't plan to. Most people would have thrown the towel in a long time ago. But not me. I still have my belief in myself, and my faith in persistence. I hold a fundamental belief that work ethic and persistence can lead to results. I will keep plugging away, making mistakes, learning from them, and rising again. The fact of the matter is that I am truly happy when I am working toward my goals. It gives me structure, balance, confidence, and a sense of purpose. It's my life.

I'm not 100% sure where I will end up next year. I am hoping to end up with some friends to help share the cost of living, and to have some workout buddies. There are many pros and cons to all the cities at which I am looking. Looking forward to the great unknown is a scary prospect. But that's what life is, right? A big unknown? I know it's easy to get down in the dumps when you are tired and your achilles hurts. But I realize that I just need to back off the training a little bit (it's okay because I had a huge week last week), maybe get some A.R.T., and I'll be back at it in no time, working toward the dream. Life is an adventure.

Bring it.