Just One More Chapter
First snow flakes of the year were blowing around here today. My friend D.K. will attest to the fact that this is usually the day I make my first threat to "take a rope to the attic" and usher in Winter Jason. D.K. seemed almost disappointed via e-mail today when I wasn't my usual over the top depressed self about the weather. Maybe I'm too wrapped up in my leg and ear issues to care if it's snowing or not? On top of that I guess whether I want to admit it or not, I'm still feeling pretty lucky that I rode for a month with an untreated blood clot in my leg and didn't kick it. So let it snow. Let the wind blow. Who the f*ck cares? Yeah, I hate it. But it can alternate between an excuse to not ride AND an excuse TO get all primal and ride in the cold like a testosterone pumping ice age cave man. I have .05% hearing in my left ear, I gotz more important things to worry about.
I'm nearly finished with the Dean Karnazes book "Ultra Marathon Man". What a great read! I can really see myself reading it again. During so much of the book all I had to do was substitute cycling for running and it was uncanny how similar some of his thinking is to mine and some other folks I know (probably you).
A couple of lines and excerpts really spoke to me. Towards the end he talks about how his "hobby" has taken a toll on old friendships and his social life. I can attest to that. There are a good number of folks that I just don't keep in touch with any longer. Not because I don't like them or love them. I often just get so wrapped up in trying to race, ride, train, work, blog, be a good son, father and husband, that often time for going out or seeing friends just slips away. I don't see friends as nearly as I should and I feel a lot of guilt about that. But I also know that in the end the racing and riding makes me happy on so many levels. And it makes me a better person on many levels too!
I completely understood when he talked about training alone most of the time. It's not that I don't enjoy riding with other folks. But I have my routine. I have a schedule. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy it, or won't try to do it. It just means that often, a post work ride needs to be two hours or 1.5 hours, or whatever time frame my schedule allows that night and that's it.
I love to ride, but I also love to see B-Man and Wifey during the evenings too. Their bed time is 8:45 or 9 P.M. So I do what I need to do and get home. Weekends can be different, at least on Saturday's I usually have more time. And that is usually my BIG ride day. Again, not that I don't want to ride with folks, but if I have a plan to ride for 3 or 4 hours in the mountain or elsewhere, I want to stick to that. Sometimes it can be hard to get folks to want to ride for that length of time at my pace (usually SLOWER than theirs). I KNOW I need to ride with faster folks. That's how you get faster. I know that this is why I will end up submitting to Don P.'s strong arming and race at least a few XC races next year. Even if it's Vet Sport. I need to make sure I don't plateau. Easier said then done, but it's at least in the plans for 2009.
I like how Karnazes points out that Ultra events are not for everyone and he knows he's sort of a freak. That what he and other Ultra runners do is NOT normal. The same of course could be said for endurance cycling events of course. I like when he says- "Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness, I've now come to believe that quite the opposite is the case". Don't get me wrong I would never say that I ENJOYED the times I've spent dry heaving in the pits, dehydrating, cramped up like a pretzel, pissing butter, and bonking, but there is a certain something about knowing that "yep, I pushed it as far as I could. This is the lap or mile that will define my race for better or worse". It was right after the above excerpt in red that he drops a kick ass quote from Dostoyevsky- "Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness". Nice!
I only have a few pages to go and I find myself wanting to know more. So much of the time I spent saying "Hey I think that! I do that!" that I feel like I need to know more. No, I'm not putting myself in the same class of athlete as Karnazes. I mean dude ran 200 freaking miles! I've never even rode 200 miles! 150ish yes, 200 no. But there were MANY similarities regardless.
Maybe that's what Dean Karnazes wanted the book to be? Maybe in it's own way the book is a way for endurance athletes to identify with each other and see that we may run, bike, swim (or all 3 if you're a Tri-freak) various distances with various results, but we're really not all that different from each other.
Like I said I wanted to read more, but then maybe my (our) OWN riding, racing, and writing IS sort of a continuation of the book? Maybe that's how it is for all of us? Each ride, each race, each adventure is one more life chapter to enjoy. One more memory to cherish, one more way of LIVING life and not just stumbling through life. Whether you spend your post race time on the podium or dry heaving in the pits with me, each race tells you a little more about yourself. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, but it's ALL part of growing as an athlete and as a person. Let yourself enjoy it.
Time for bed. I have 3 more pages to read, and sleep to get. I have an appointment with an E.N.T. doc tomorrow to see why I can't hear. My doc couldn't see anything, so if there's infection it's way down deep in my noggin. Oh well, shit happens, right? At least it's not supposed to snow tomorrow. Enter one chilly ass night ride.