June 24, 2006

A Study In Psychosis

Morning/Afternoon Workout
110 miles
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1) / Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

4 miles
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1) / Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

Random Comments: A key factor in completing an Ironman race is mental. That is, you need to be severely mental to want to do it in the first place. Truth be told, a dollop of psychosis is a pre-requisite to keep the body moving forward throughout the 140-odd Ironman miles. Though many feel that psychosis is genetic, I'm a firm believer that psychosis can be a learned trait. Nature/Nurture, you know the argument. Which brings us to today. Though I've been exercising my buttock off for the past 6-ish months, it was time I gave my mind a good workout to strengthen those psychotic muscles in my brain. So today I was committed to riding 100+ miles on my own, with nobody around to keep me sane. A confidence builder is what today's workout was billed as. Let's see how it went, shall we...

The ride started off great. I felt pretty confident from the get-go. Which is nice, but probably not the point. I mean, it ain't that hard to feel pretty confident at mile 1. But I guess I'll take what I can get. Still, there's a little thing that always gnaws at the back of my mind when I am really enjoying a workout. Specifically, it is the knowledge that at some point during my lengthy ride, run or what-have-you, I will reach a point where the enjoyment fades to black. Where I just want to stop and sit by the side of the road for the rest of eternity, or until the Tastee-Freeze truck drives by, whichever comes first. However, like the eventual fading of the joyous feelings, that defeated feeling also fades away in time and gets replaced with joy again. It's a goddam rollercoaster of emotion, is what it is.

So anyway, I really enjoyed the first 62 miles of my ride, right until the point where I started climbing the canyon. Something about the tired legs and the dreaded heat got me all in a tizzy. My stomach got so queasy that I couldn't ingest any food or liquid. And that's bad. But fear not, young maiden, that feeling eventually faded about 20 miles later. Right about the point where the psychosis kicked in.

It wasn't really an overwhelming delirium that embraced me, it was more subtle. It was like I was sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon with my feet dangling over the side. If I don't focus and pay close attention, I could easily fall into the abyss. I don't want to fall into the abyss. I want to live. So I tried with all my might to pay attention and not fall into the hands of total delirium. Focus. Focus. And my legs ploded along in their metronomic circular cadence for another 25 miles until somehow, someway, I found myself back at my home.

110 miles completed, I proverbialy patted myself on the back, hopped off the bike and began running. If I may say so - and I may - my run was amazing. It was one of those runs that reminded me how much I love running. Only 4 or 5 steps into the jog, I already knew how good it was going to be. The legs felt great and I had a smile stretching from ear to ear. That smile barely faded for the entire 4 mile extravaganza. I love when that happens.

So I did it. I supposedly strengthened my mind in a mere 114 miles. Maybe sometime in the future it'll actually start making me feel more confident.