June 22, 2007

You Either Do Or You Don't. Trying Doesn't Count.

They should call it tiredathlon, not triathlon.

All triathlon means is participation in three sports. But what we do is oh so much more. Sure the actual event has us swimming, biking and running, but what of the 4am wake-up call? And the seven months of endless training? And how about trying to balance a full life, crammed to the gullet with work, family, friends, pets, must-see TV, and lots of food to be eaten at all hours of the day. This is not just a race, my friends, it is a lifestyle. It is a very f**king tiring lifestyle. Hence the new name.


So when somebody asks you what you do, you no longer say, I'm a triathlete. That's so 2006. It just doesn't represent our lifestyle any longer. Instead, what we should now say is, I'm a tiredathlete. Now THAT is much more accurate. THAT I can believe.

Who's with me on this one?!

I'm not sure why my body was so incredibly drained of all energy when I started my swim this morning. Maybe it's because I haven't slept since 2001, when I consciously decided to focus on this silly silly sport.

Catherine said that maybe I'm extra tired because I actually got 8 hours of sleep last night. After suffering from a long stretch of sleep deprivation, she told me, one good night of sleep can often make matters worse. Apparently it takes two or three nights of good sleep for the body to emerge from this state of shock and feel normal again.

Or maybe it was from the power weight lifting set I did last Friday. Catherine told me that sometimes people feel really drained for a full week after a lifting session like that. Even when you're a weak little pipsqueak like me.

I thought it could've been due to the excruciatingly difficult 20 minute uphill time trial I did on the bike yesterday. That one knocked the bejesus right out of me, until I picked up the bejesus and put it back in, only to knock the darn thing out again with the 30 second repeats. Of course, I soon realized that I don't ride a handcycle, so the bike ride is probably not the reason why my upper body is so tired. Catherine had nothing to do with that one.

Whatever the reason, neither my body nor my mind were excited for the 4000 yard pool workout this morn. Still, I drove to the YMCA and slipped into the pool. As I began the 400 yard warm-up, I questioned whether my arms would carry me to the other end of this 25 yard expanse. When I made it to other end, I turned around and questioned whether I would make it back. Somehow I did.

My arms felt like limp noodles. They had all the push of a worn-out snail. Every time I reached another side of the pool, I wanted to stop. It was a desperate struggle, mentally and physically.

And that was just the warm up.

Suddenly I could imagine what Tom Hanks felt like stranded on that island in Cast Away. WILLL-SONNN!!!!!

Miraculously, I managed to make it past the warm-up, at which point I was hypothetically supposed to be warm. I wasn't. In fact, I was very very cold. My arms didn't feel any different than they had ten paragraphs ago. But it was time to start the main set, which comprised of sixteen 200s in a row. Blech. On a good day, I'd look at that and say something profound like: awwww shit. here we go again.

Today wasn't a good day and I didn't have much profound in me. So I took a big breath - which probably was more of a sigh than anything - and began to swim.

Contrary to what you may think, the swim didn't get any better. Each lap was a vicious struggle. The moment I reached one end of the pool, I turned around and realized I really didn't want to push off from the wall. I wanted to stop and cry. And maybe eat a sausage, basil and feta omelet. Inevitably, though, I pushed forward.

It was about midway through the seventh 200 when I hit my bottom. As the saying goes, you've hit your bottom when you decide to stop digging. I suppose it was somewhere around there that I put down the shovel.

The moment I pushed off from the wall during that particular 200, was not so different from the other times I pushed off from the wall this morning. I didn't want to push. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to swim. But for some reason, when I reminded myself of my unhappiness on this push off, I also came to the realization that I was, in fact, swimming.

Despite not wanting to swim, I had already made the decision to come to the pool. I already made the decision to start my swim. I made the decision to push off from the wall time and time again. And I continued to make the decision to keep my arms rotating and my body moving forward.

Sure I kept telling myself that I didn't want to swim, but every single action that I undertook this morning pointed to the single premise that I did, in fact, want to swim. I didn't think I wanted to swim, but apparently I was wrong.

Given the fact that I had a whole bunch of swimming still left ahead of me, I started thinking about this one a little more. This training malarkey, it's not always easy physically and it certainly isn't always easy mentally. But there are times when the physical is being dragged down by the mental. I've talked about this before and I'll probably talk about it again, but it really intrigues me...

I tried to let go of my mind in the pool this morning and realize that everything I had done proved to me that I did, in fact, want to swim. Because here I was.... swimming.

So I gave in to it all, and tried to stop letting my mind drag down my body. It didn't make my body less tired or my arms less weak, but it let my mind get to a more serene place where cherubs may very well have been dancing on soft fluffy clouds.

Ya gotta love a happy ending.


TriTurtL said...

Turns out I was associating myself with the wrong group of people. Instead of triathletes, I may actually find a much better fit with the "Tiredathletes!"

Where do I sign up? It appears I'm not alone!!! I must tell you, stumbling on your blog tonight brought a huge validating smile to my face.

jbmmommy said...

On days like that, not that I've had one recently since I'm not training, I was just thankful if I had my head above the water before taking the deep breath.

Hope you get some rest. Some day.

pb said...


If my mind tells me it doesn't feel like swimming, I don't have the energy (or the will) to convince it otherwise. So I just get my sorry arse out of the pool!

I know, I'm a sissy...

Andra Sue said...

Oh, dude, I am SO with you!!! You've just summed up a good portion of the last two weeks of my life. I seriously almost fell asleep during a measly 1 hour trainer ride on Wednesday night. It was a complete struggle just to pedal the damn bike, let alone try to get my HR up to where it needed to be. I counted every single minute, yet I didn't get off. Or even fall off when I started to doze. I'm terribly proud of myself.

Tiredathlon it is!

hak said...

Amen on the powerlifting brother. I was working an old powerlifting routine last month and about three weeks into it I was so friggin' tired. I was starting to get great results, but I just could keep that going with the tri training (and I'm only doing sprint this year), and six hours of sleep--due to work and school commitments. So, I had to dial the strength training back until I can hit the base period again this fall.


Catherine said...

damn, i talk a lot! why stop now ...

i think walking (swimming) forward despite not “wanting” to is faith. it’s faith in your desire, faith in your commitment, faith that you can do it. it’s all an act of faith and with that in mind, you can’t go wrong. sure you’ll get out of the pool still tired, but you will have put some serious mental money in the bank. as you know i’ve withdrawn from that account numerous times when faced with a day like that ... in fact, doing ironman last year was a HUGE deposit that i have drawn from on two of my last three races.

that being said, there are still times [ahem, last Friday] when you just gotta pull the plug after 1000 yards and go grab that omelet with your girl.

thank god we get to share our tiredathlete lifestyle with each other.

and remembah, girly-mahn ... "you caaan't esspect to feel like caaahl lewiiis when your leefting lihhke ahhnold schwarzenegger".

xo ^..^

j. said...

true dat, woman. true dat.

No Wetsuit Girl... overseas! said...

wow!16x200 when you're feeling like THAT! You are one tough mothah-f...! I bet that omelet afterwards was the tastiest in your life. Great workout, even if it sucked!

1HappyAthlete said...

Pretty much sums up my thoughts everyday when I'm supposed to swim.....