Saturday, July 30, 2011

Change. It is what it is.

I took a big risk when I moved to Boulder last autumn. I had no job, no friends, and no clue what was going to happen. Most people would not have done this. I had an idea and a dream of how I hoped it would work out. As we all know, however, sometimes things do not turn out how you had envisioned. Oftentimes this provides us with a learning experience. Oftentimes this learning experience is a valuable one. Oftentimes this learning experience hurts.

It has been made clear in the past that in order to thrive, I need to be around my loved ones. Last time I left home (early college), I struggled with being away from them. When I moved back to Rochester, I had the best two years of my life. Obviously, leaving home again to take this chance on Boulder was a prospect that I was excited about, but there was some apprehension there. I know that I have something special that not everybody has. My friends and family are the most supportive people in the world, and each and every success I have is because of them. I have a very defined sense of where home is. I have given it a year here in Boulder, and it has not become home. When I came out here I had an idea of what I hoped it would be like, and what I would accomplish. It has turned out differently than I had hoped.

I knew that I would face challenges while I was out here, and I have. I met every challenge and rose to every occasion. I grew a lot, and always rallied, no matter what the situation. However, for the most part, it has felt like a series of falling into holes and climbing out of them. There have not been too many true highlights. I have been surviving, rather than thriving. I have not been happy, and I cannot try to convince myself otherwise anymore.

I have made the decision to move back to Rochester. Back home. At this point in time, it is the best decision. I moved to Boulder for the training, but honestly I think I can train just as well, if not better, in Rochester. I know that winters are rough, but it is not anything I am not used to (I handled 23 of those winters). You have to be happy in order to progress with your training. I have my support system there, and great training partners that I trust through and through. As my Boulder roommate (who has been an awesome big brother figure to me this whole time) put it, "you do not become fast by living in Boulder, you become fast by working your ass off." At the moment, I honestly think that I can work harder in a situation where I am around my loved ones, where the support is tangible and accessible.

Boulder will always be here. It is indeed a beautiful place and a fantastic location in which to train. Dozens and dozens of elite athletes cannot be wrong. For now, though, at this point in time, it is not the right place. Perhaps in a couple years I may be able to return. For now, in terms of work, training, and general happiness (which should always be priority number one, along with health), I need to be in my city, with my friends and family. I gave this a real honest shot. I gave it a full year. Everyone I have talked to in the last 24 hours has stressed that I should not see this as failure, or capitulation. It is simply something that I tried and it did not work out. I do not see it as a failure, but I am extremely disappointed that my original vision did not become realized. It is over now. I roll on, like I always do. Onto the next chapter. A few weeks after I get home the leaves will be changing, and the fresh, cool air of autumn in Upstate New York will again fill my lungs as I run through the forest. Just like I did in High school. Just like I did in college.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dealing with disappointment

Two and a half weeks ago, I woke up and the first word I said (out loud) was "f*ck." I was three days removed from the most fun week I had experienced in quite a while: Dino camp with my buddy Dylan (a fit bloke). After this huge week of training (with an increase in volume AND intensity---->dangerous), my thoughts were "okay, if I just make sure I do not get sick, I am going to get a huge benefit and fitness boost." I took all the precautions, including eating clean (and a lot), sleeping, and taking it super easy. So when I woke up with a sore throat, I was exceptionally disappointed. Thinking it was just a cold, I put down some breakfast and headed off for work. As the shift went on, I felt undeniably increasingly ill. By the end of it, I was so feverish and had such bad chills that I drove home with the heat on in my car (and it was 90 degrees that day). I made it home and made it to the couch, and that was about all I could accomplish.

The next several days were a bit of a haze, but it did not involve eating or moving. Luckily, with the help of a great friend, visiting (luckily for me) parents, and some powerful western-medicine pharmaceutical products, I started to recover. However, after all was said and done, two weeks had passed without any training whatsoever. With the gradual and conservative approach that I will have to take while returning to training, this illness may have taken as much as 5-6 weeks away from me, when all is said and done. That, for all intents and purposes, is a season-killer.

So now what? Where to go from here? If you know me, you know the answer to that one. I am no stranger to getting my heart broken and losing a season. In the past it has typically been injuries that have derailed my racing. Most people would have thrown in the towel a long time ago, but where there is passion, there can be perseverance. Over the past year I have doubled my weekly running mileage, with only one minor setback (which was a good thing ironically due to the fact that it shed some light on the root cause of the numerous injuries). I never lost my love for the sport and my belief that I could get everything handled, and improve. The fire never went out. It is still burning now, despite this latest bump in the road. When things do not go well, you get them better, and you KEEP F*CKING GOING.

So we look toward next year now, with new lessons learned. After consulting with the V-Beast, and continuing to further my knowledge base, it seems that consistency is the be-all, end-all. Interruptions such as these are the greatest factors in undermining long-term development, much more so than training slightly fewer hours each week. That will be a goal of mine from here: stay healthier.

It is what it is. It will do me no good to lament the loss of what was shaping up to be a good year of racing. It was never really about this year, anyway. It was about one, two, seven etc. years from now. Everything I do now lays the foundation for my success down the road. I intend to get healthy, and start getting fit again. Then I intend to get fitter and fitter and fitter. There are few feelings that compare to that of being able to run across the line and raise your arms. I will get that again soon, I just need to wait a little longer than I would like.

I will leave you with this quotation from Teddy Roosevelt (who was, by all means, a real man). It may be my favorite.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the
strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done
them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the
arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat