Monday, March 2, 2015

Going the Distance or Falling Short?


Leading up to a big endurance event there are acrobatics going on in even the best athlete's mind.  The anticipation can drive a broad spectrum of emotions and mental states.  Anxiety over performance and ultimate success—will I miss anything? Or, will I have time to finish?—can turn into a mantra of doom.
So many doubts buffet you: have I prepared enough?  Will my body fail me?
The best you can do is put in the training sessions and fuel yourself as best as you can.  Then you dig deep into your soul as the plot twists and turns and the outcome becomes uncertain.  One foot in front of the other with the focus remaining on that series finale up ahead.  Grab another banana and soldier on!  Do it for your spouse, for your kids, or for some selfish pointless reason.  But do it.
And next year when House of Cards Season 4 comes out you’ll be ready for the next Netflix binge.

Some people can't hold their House of Cards
 
I needed to run.  Instead I lay in bed with a furry puppy and the electric heater blazing nearby with an energetic jab at the remote each time “Play Episode X” showed on the screen until there was no more Frank Underwood to watch.  The only contributing factor to my Yamacraw training was that I didn’t stuff my face with junk food as I pissed away a Saturday.  Yeah, I felt empty and dead inside once it was over, but I don’t know that I could have gotten too far from the TV knowing there were so many episodes of what is essentially a soap opera for me to watch.  Drama!
Winter has taken a toll on my endurance.  I’m mentally, spiritually, and emotionally weak.  I end up in cul-de-sacs in my own mind and feedback loops where I can’t solve the problems of running on snow-crusted roads or mud-slog trails.  I’ve run out of time to put in the camel-choking miles I need as a base.  I miss my mountain bike…my road bike for crying out loud!...and the days trickle away like snow melting in the sun. 
It was a feat of endurance to watch the entire third season of HOC, but it wasn’t the kind of endurance I’ve been trying to build.  It’s obviously not the kind of endurance I lack. 
Did I make any progress on my writing?  Nope.  I’m composing this mid-morning Monday and there are no new book pages on the laptop at home.
Did I exercise any over the weekend?  One trip to the gym late on Sunday long after the soreness from watching Francis Underwood try to take over the world had faded. 
Do I hate myself for being a couch potato when I could have built some inner and outer strength?  Not really.  And I’ll tell you why:
Like I said, my heart and mind have been worn down to the point of exhaustion.  We all go through it, but the past couple of weeks—maybe even the past couple of months—have eroded my stoic indifference to life.  Even boulders in the current are worn down over time.  When the floods of life overtop them drastic changes can occur before the waters recede.  As I come slowly out of the deluge that has been buffeting us I feel as if the surface of my soul is raw again.  New facets of my being are exposed to the sun.  Or at least fresh portions of the layers that cut through me. 
I’m not going to go through the laundry list of stressors that have been obscuring my focal vision recently.  That won’t help me swipe the halo away any more than it will allow me to keep moving forward toward the next aid station. 
Suffice it to say the wave crashed over me and here I still sit, but somehow maybe changed in inobvious ways.  I fight off the flotsam and jetsam of despair, cynicism, and ambivalence.  I fight off those things but they aren’t me.  I am the sun-drenched boulder.  I warm with the seasons around me and hold that warmth long after the sun has gone, but equally I feel the bitter freeze of winter deep inside and it takes some time for the sun to warm up my core once again.  Though, maybe, at the core I never lose the warmth of the earth around me.
I resolved I would run at lunch today.  My mind is still struggling around the mud up to its axles trying to figure out how to make that work.  I know if I run I’ll feel better, but I am too mired down to bust through the lack of motivation I feel as lunch time creeps up on me.  I’d love to say there is no doubt in my mind that I’m going to end up running.  I can’t make that promise.

ADDENDUM

I didn't really answer why I don't hate myself for throwing away a perfectly good Saturday.  It really boils down to the fact that I needed a mental break.  I needed some escape from my own reality.  I needed to unclench my brain for a dozen or so hours and wallow in a fictional universe.  House of Cards filled that niche.

Anyway, that's why I don't hate myself.  I gave myself permission to step out of the stream for a little while and recover some strength.  I wish I could have completely let go and had not worried too much about losing the opportunity to write as well.  I tried a little bit while I sat in front of the TV, but eventually gave up on that too because it was a drain if only a trickle.

Needless to say I won't be binging like that for a while.  I've watched too much screen of late.  I need some sunshine and proprioceptive therapy.  I need some grounding and centering to help me see clearly a path forward.  So there...

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