Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Staying Home

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em,
Know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run.

The good news was that the freezing rain might stop by morning.
The other good news was that my right hamstring seemed to be on the mend and was not bothering me as much as it had been.

On the other hand, the remnants of a cold had settled uncomfortably in my chest, making breathing an irritating chore.

So much seemed to be conspiring to keep me from running my planned race, the Around the Bay 30k in Hamilton.

And there was the fact that I was vastly undertrained.

Training has not been a focus in the past two months. Our quick, unexpected decision to buy a house in the country and sell the one we’ve lived in for 21 years meant that much of the winter was taken up packing boxes and shifting furniture.

Once we had decided to list the house, we were in the hands of The Stagers. The mandate of The Stagers is to make your home look as if no one has ever lived there, the better to sell it, apparently. To us sellers, their word was law, and the word we got was that none of our furniture, art, or carpeting was worthy to be viewed by the buying public. It all had to go. So began a frantic period of moving everything we owned into the garage so that it could be replaced by one glass-topped coffee table and a throw pillow. Even my beloved treadmill, a wintertime refuge for me, was rolled into a corner while the house was being shown.

All of which goes to say that I didn’t do a lot of running in January and February.

The bottom line: Even If I did show up at the starting line, it would be to shuffle along like an old man in the final miles of Ironman, doing a run-walk, hacking and coughing, finishing on the last page of the results.

Actually I do that anyway, but this time it might not have been worth it.

A few people I know refer to my athletic habits as “crazy,” a term that drives me … well ... crazy. To me there is nothing crazy about setting a goal and taking steps to achieve it. These things mean being organized and focused, not nuts. I get defensive when someone points to everything I go through to do what I do and dismisses it as simply a mental aberration. No, my hobby is not shopping for antiques, having people over to dinner, or eating exotic cheeses. Yes, I sometimes get uncomfortable.

But occasionally an obsession to carry through with something despite a net negative outcome, or at least a lack of a measurable positive one, could be an indication of an approach that is a tad off balance.

No Country for Old Legs
The challenge for me here was to see the bigger picture. I have a long-term training plan to take me to my A race in Iceland this summer. From where I am currently sitting, finishing that race seems nearly impossible. Challenging terrain and weather are made even more daunting by what look like Draconian time cut-offs. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem like any country for old men; there are all of 5 people 65+ entered in a field of over 500. Even the four-hour bus ride to the start is off-putting.

Nevertheless I am looking forward to it as much as I did my first Ironman back in 2002. It will test me and my training, resolve, and focus as much as anything ever has.

But training will require running, and I have to be in shape for that. Starting off with a painful whimper is not how I wanted to do it.

Call me crazy, but in the end I decided to skip Around the Bay and live to run another day. I have run the race many times and I will run it many more, but this was not going to be my year.

And things are looking up. My sore muscles are feeling better, my chest cold is retreating, and I feel like running again. Now if I can just remember where I packed my trail shoes…