September 08, 2006

An Overwhelming Feeling Of Inadequacy

I feel like a fraud. Sometimes it's just plain uncomfortable this overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. But no matter how hard I try, I'm just not going to change. So I guess I've got to start accepting that fact.

I've been running for about 27 years (not in a Forrest Gump way, of course). I've been cycling for the better part of 15 years and swimming (as opposed to flailing-for-survival) for about 5 years. I've had a few different bicycles over the years and most recently bought a new, highly fancy-shmancy ride that cost a pretty penny (actually, quite a few thousand of those pennies). It's the type of bike that cyclists look at and say things like "wow, nice ride." I've been racing triathlons since 1992 and been writing periodically for sports magazines like Triathlete and Inside Triathlon since 2001.

One would think, at least from my sports resume, that I know what I'm talking about.
One would be wrong.

The thing is, I am so technically deficient, you'd have to imagine that I've actually gone out of my way to remain so ignorant. It's really a talent. I couldn't tell you the size of my gear cassette or how many damn cogs its got if you held a feather to my neck (and I HATE being tickled). I have no clue if I need running shoes with cushion or shoes with support. I don't know if I pronate or supanate or whether those are even the right terms - at least one of them sounds like something I might order for lunch.

Yet so many people assume that I'm a technical guru. I'm not. But still they talk to me as if I knew what the hell they were talking about. I don't.

I've tried so hard to read all the articles in all the magazines and force myself through the random techno- blog posts to understand what it all means. But apparently my mind just doesn't absorb that type of information. The thing is, it seems that almost everybody else out there is able to speak all the technological gobbledy-gook as if it naturally rolled off their tongue. Am I really that much of an imbecile? Or is it that I just don't care.

I did a search on iTunes the other day for triathlon related podcasts only to find that the most popular one (by far) is primarily about the technological aspect of the sport. How can so many people be so interested in that crap? I asked Catherine with amazement when I was sure nobody else could hear me.

It must be that all the technologically minded people are using technology to look for their information, she replied. It sounded so logical... until I realized that I'm looking for podcasts too.

So I downloaded one of these techie-type podcasts so I can learn about assembling a derailleur blindfolded in the dark with one hand tied behind my back and nothing to work with but a toothpick and a half-bottle of Astroglide. The podcast has been sitting on my iPod for the past week. I just can't seem to find the energy - or interest - to listen to the darn thing.

I think I've just lived by my gut instincts for so long, I've come to rely on them. My brain is too full to squeeze any techie jargon into it.. and even if it squeezed in there somehow, there's not enough brain velcro for it to stick.

It reminds me of the time years ago when I would sit in recording studios producing bands. There are so many gadgets that make so many different noises I just couldn't keep up with it all. Frankly, I didn't even understand it. What I did know, however, was whether something sounded good or bad. Turn the thingamajig up a smidgen, I'd say to the engineer as I pointed at the row of big black boxes with the pretty flashing lights. No, not the whatchamacallit! I'd scream as he reached for the wrong knob on the wrong box. The thingamajig! Can't you hear me?! The thingamajig needs smidgening!

I've since learned that, despite not knowing all the technical jargon, I don't necessarily have to sound like an idiot when I talk about it. So I just remain silent. I relish in the fact that, like those times in the recording studio, I instinctively know when something feels good or not. When riding on a new bike, I know if it feels uncomfortable. And when putting on a new pair of running shoes, I immediately know whether they'll cause me pain.

You know what, maybe I don't need to listen to that Podcast afterall. I have better things to do with my toothpicks and Astroglide anyway.


Baun said...

Hey J,

Just wanted to say that I really love your blog and writing. Recently discovered it (don't remember how, but through the great tri blog network somehow).

Hilarious dude. And thought provoking/smart too. Not an easy trick to pull off.

Keep up the great writing!

A new fan.

p.s. Your IMUSA recap was probably the best race recap I've ever read. I laughed. I cried (okay, not literally). Congratulations on being an Ironman!

Baun said...

Man, I wrote a long and heart-felt comment about how much I enjoy your blog and all that. Then Blogger ate it and never posted it!

Oh well. Keep up the great (and hilarious) writing! :)