What If I Forget How to Win?

Here is a list of some things that have happened since the end of the last triathlon season:

  • I had that EP Study and procedure done to figure out what’s wrong with my heart
  • I then had a bad reaction to it and started having atrial flutter episodes, like, all the time, which (in case you were wondering) suck
  • I spent December depressed and contemplating if I was going to have to quit everything
  • Once I started training again, I got insanely bad food poisoning and threw up for 12 hours
  • Also, I passed out from the throwing up and gave myself a concussion
  • I got it together and then a couple days before the 50K Snoop Lion scratched me and I needed two stitches
  • The heavy antibiotics they put me on also messed up all my bacteria and I went on some more meds
  • Oh, and now it turns out I’ve had a cracked tooth since the beginning of January, ever since I got a filling done that went badly

And somewhere in there Tupac got sick twice and had to go to the emergency vet, and the car broke down on my way to work. And, honestly, it all starts to feel like a lot, you know?

At the end of last year, I said I wanted to have more fun and do some more random stuff this winter. And even with everything, I kind of have. I bought one of those class packs for the Crossfit “box” here (and everyone needs to stop violently hating on Crossfit — like, whatever, don’t be stupid about it and it’s perfectly fun in the off-season and can even be useful). I finished the 50K. I raced a half-marathon without really being in any way prepared for it. And then this past weekend I did a cross-country ski race because Steve was doing the longer more competitive race and he convinced me to do the one-lap 15K.

It was not amazing. Turns out I don’t really know how to skate ski that well, since I’ve only ever taken one lesson. I can sort of muscle my way through, but I don’t actually know what I’m doing. And after a bit over an hour I lost even the minor ski ability that I have. I started falling and then I was essentially hiking. With skis on.

The thing is though, with everything that’s gone wrong and with all these random “races,” it’s really easy to sort of give yourself an out. You can still be trying really really hard, but honestly what’s the point in going that extra bit to completely kill yourself for the difference between last and second-to-last in something you don’t even care about. And now I’ve entertained so many random whims I’m starting to worry I’ve dulled any killer edge I once had.

What if I forget how to win?

I know this sounds like one of those pseudo-intellectual wisdom nuggets people are always dropping on Twitter, but it’s a real thing. You have to remember how to tap the well, dig deep, whatever your phrase of choice is. And, for me, remembering not to give up can be hard.

So, anyway. I’m concerned. It’s all been a lot. And I’ve been dragging ass emotionally. But I also know there’s nothing to really do about it but the work and if you do the work then you’ll be ready and eventually it’ll come around. And I always do the work, whatever Hillary puts on the schedule. And the swimming and biking have started to come back around. So we’ll see. First triathlon is Escape Surf City at the end of April to get ready for…WILDFLOWER!

Oh, and I’m racing a Spartan Race this weekend. Naturally. But I promise to try my hardest, or at least the hardest I can try without the risk of breaking a leg being too high.

Training Week 15: Feb. 9 – 15

I might have broken. The biggest liability for me right now—in training, life, whatever—is if all the stress and deadlines and lack of sleep breaks me. And, it’s getting damn close.

That’s even with last week being the first week in a few that I got real training in again, so that doesn’t bode great.

Monday

Biked the 12 miles easy to school to recover from the Aquathlon.

Swam 2,000 yards slow. I wasn’t deliberately swimming slow, but I was definitely not fast.

Tuesday

Ran track with The Kids: 6 x 800 meters. We were doing them as in-and-out intervals, basically alternating 10K pace and fast pace, which also prompted a lot of ‘that’s what she said’ type of jokes. I ran 3:03, 2:55, 3:04, 2:48, 3:02, 2:49. That’s the fastest I’ve run 800s in years. If I don’t have endurance and general health going for me, at least I sort of got some speed right now.

Did 20 minutes of TRX and strength work after shooting some TV footage of the real track team.

Wednesday

Biked 44 miles down the bike path, out Palos Verdes some, and back. I had intended to do some tempo or hard work, but my derailleur snapped off at the start of the ride. See, that is not what a derailleur is supposed to look like:

Also, my photo skills, impressive, no?
Also, my photo skills, impressive, no?


That meant I did the whole ride in the little ring, which isn’t great for pushing power, especially on a bike path with the wind at my back. And, I had a weird freakout about potentially crashing over a rollerblader or a speed bump or into a parked car. So, I mostly just did a steady moderately hard ride, pushing it more on the way back (into the wind).

Swam 3,050 yards in the evening with The Kids, though I am 98% convinced that the PED pool on campus is not actually 25 yards long. We swim too fast in it. I’m not accidentally dropping 2:30 200s in other pools. Multiple times in a row.

Thursday

Swam 1,250 yards easy in the evening, on the way home from work.

Friday

The Run That Wasn’t: Was aiming to run about 12 miles with 4 x 2-miles descending from Goal Marathon Pace to Goal Half-Marathon Pace. I barely made it out of bed to the bike path, but in the spirit of “the hardest steps are the first ones” I thought it’d get better. Spoiler alert: They lied; the hardest steps are the hard ones. This random guy ran the first two repeats with me, which we did ok on. (7:04s for the first one, which felt fine. 6:58s for the second one, which felt like I was going to die.) Then, I had to take a long bathroom break, which used up most of my allotted time, so I thought I’d just do one more repeat in the 6:40s. I made it about three minutes and I stopped. I don’t know why. I was struggling. A lot. But, it might have been in my head. I don’t know. I’m too tired to think about it anymore. Jogged back home.

Saturday

Cross-country skied a bit over 11 miles with Steve, during which he let me know that his heartrate was lower than the last time we went skiing. I wasn’t wearing a heartrate monitor, because mine (naturally) has torn a huge cut across my chest and I’m currently avoiding it, but the day felt pretty hard to me and I was pretty wiped out. We were out for over three hours and skiing pretty consistently in that time, though there were plenty of stopping breaks and fueling breaks, etc. So, who knows.

Sunday

Swam 2,000 yards at the Truckee High School pool. I was going to swim more. I was going to run after too. But, I could barely move. Instead, I took a two hour nap.

TOTAL: 11:30

Yeah, I don’t know. No more self-evaluation, introspection, whatever. Clearly, I’m tired. I need to sleep and I need to get through things and, hopefully, it’ll sort itself out.

Maybe Skiing is My Thing

XCski

This is me looking super serious cross-country skiing. (Actually, it’s after we skied from the trailhead to the downhill resort and were taking a break while we tried to decide where to go.)

I am not bad at cross-country skiing. I am surprisingly good. It may be the first thing in a long time that I’ve been good at and liked right away—probably since I was unexpectedly fast at running my freshman year of high school. This isn’t to say I’m good. I’m just good for having done it only three times now. And, given that we have a lot of cycling and running clothes and aren’t unfit, Steve and I tend to look like we must know what we’re doing—until one of us wipes out. Also, cross-country skiing fun.

If I lived somewhere with snow and trails and could just go every day, I might get actually good. Or, not. The list of things that I’m pretty good at, but then never get much better, is a long list.

XCski2
This is basically a Clif bar ad.

I am always fascinated, though, by what we could or might be good at. How do you know what you would be best at? What if you never find it? What if what you think you’re good at is simply a dictate of convenience and circumstance? I grew up without a lot of money in Chicago. Skiing was something rich people did, which is also what I told Steve the first time he wanted to go skiing. From Chicago, you pretty much have to fly to Colorado to be a skier. It was not something I would have ever known I was any good at.

The Australian Institute of Sport developed this series of tests a few years ago to find talent and most accurately direct that talent to the most appropriate sport for them, so that Australia could continue winning lots of medals and stuff. Man, I wish I could take those tests. I wish they had those tests for life too. And, then, that you also could still be like, “Nope, sorry, don’t feel like listening to your test. Just wanted to know. Still going to do this my own way. K, thanks.”

My way better picture of Steve.
My way better picture of Steve.

Training Week 9: Dec. 29 – Jan. 4

Monday

Off, because I was working in the city.

Tuesday

TRX in the evening after work — which was a weird TRX class. It involved jumping jacks and circuits and the instructor yelling a lot. I totally get that after a day of sitting around at work, “Cardio TRX” sort of makes sense for people. The class is geared at 9-5ers who want to get a little sweat on. At this point, though, I am 100 percent sure I could be a fitness instructor, but my class would be only geared to freelancers who have a lot of time to train. It would be just the strength work I want and none of the extra bullshit.

Swam 1,500 yards relatively easy.

Wednesday

Biked 14 miles. I was going to ride more, but it was a long exhausting day and by the time we left, I barely made it to the end of Lucas Valley before I wanted to turn around.

Yoga routine at home.

Thursday

Rode 41 miles with Steve out to Pt. Reyes. Way, way better than the day before. We actually hauled a decent amount of the ride, with me on my time trial bike, so that was fun.

Friday

Swam 3,150 yards at Masters in the morning. Oh, Masters.

Ran up Mt. Baldy after — the long way around Phoenix Lake and up the back side. It was cold. I was running across ice on the shady back side of the hill. And, it wasn’t that clear at the top because of all the fireplaces or “haze” or whatever. Still, though. It was a gorgeous run.

Saturday and Sunday

Cross-country skied. It turns out I am pretty good, for never have done it before. (That one time we tried to go in high school in Wisconsin totally doesn’t count, because my recollection is that we went almost nowhere. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure we were trying to do the wrong kind of skiing for the kind of skis we had.) But, being surprisingly good for your first time is still not the same as being actually good. So, we still sort of had to screw around on the trails, fell over some, accidentally went up a black hill, and managed about two and a half hours each day of real skiing.

TOTAL: 12:40

The cross-country skiing messed with my training a little bit. What does that count as? How much time do you have to spend not falling over for it to count? Will it translate to running fitness? And, I’m really sore in weird places today, so that sort of messes up the rest of the plan.

This was my last real week before heading back to L.A. And, things are about to get crazy as soon as I head back, so I won’t be getting as much training in. That means I wanted to get more in before I left, but you don’t always get what you want.

It turns out I’m actually not a terrible cross-country skier, which is unique solely in the fact that I’ve never been pretty good off the bat at anything involving coordination. But, all I tried was ‘classic’ or Nordic skiing. Because I was searching the difference between classic and ‘skate-skiing’ so much on my phone, Google recommended an article, which led to another article, which led to the fascinating and complicated history of the invention of skate-skiing in cross-country racing. Seriously. It’s weirdly interesting.

https://www.skiinghistory.org/history/cross-country-skating-how-it-started