My poison oak finally started to let up last Sunday, just in time for the Costa Rican bug bites and jellyfish stings to kick in. And then Wednesday or Thursday a new rash appeared, which seems related to the original poison oak, or the blisters got infected in the ocean, or it’s some kind of reaction to the jellyfish or something in Costa Rica.
Whatever it is, it’s been miserable. The only thing that’s getting me through is my super secret trick: I stand in the shower and blast the water as hard and hot as I can until it burns the feeling out.
People are like: Doesn’t hot water make it itch more?
Yes, moderately hot water itches. Scalding hot water itches, and then hurts, and then hurts so good, and then makes everything go numb. It’s genuinely the most amazing feeling ever and then I can bear it all for a few hours.
This week I took a break. A mini, five-day sort of break. Three half–Ironmans, plus the Dipsea, and two international trips (though Canada hardly counts) in five weeks was enough that I knew I was going to be fried coming out of it. Hell, I was fried going in. I told Hillary I might be a bit scattered on workouts, and I was, and I told her I’d be back by today, and I was. The only kink in the plan is my foot is fucked up, so it’s gotta get fully rested and that makes it a bit hard to dive right into Ironman training. Still. The mini-break was valuable, but now it’s time to get back to work.
Breaks are trendy right now. Everyone keeps talking about balance and being kind to yourself and rest days. All totally fair and legitimate points, and you do whatever you need to do.
But, the thing is, and I know everyone is a special unique butterfly so your issues are likely different from my issues, but, the work part is just as important as the break part. I could easily forget that. And I don’t need to go back in time and tell my younger self to take it easier. If I could give high school me some advice it’d be: You seriously should start working harder sooner.
Sure, balance is important. If you’ve ever participated in my ‘You Have to Hit Bottom to Make It to the Top’ off-season, then you know I believe in letting yourself rest. But.
But one time, during a (kinda) job interview, after we talked about my training and my working a very up-and-down job that you could reasonably pour your life into and my coaching at the high school (at the time) and helping out with local clinics and workshops and races and doing podcasts and talks and all the other things that come with having a life, the woman asked me, “But what do you do in your free time? You know for balance? What are your hobbies?”
Like I’m supposed to have a goddamn passion for cooking now or whatever, on top of everything, to prove some kind of point?
Anyway. I took a mini-break. And now it’s back into the boiling water.