Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Bridgeland Dawdle

Hello loyal readers ...or to be more precise, Hello Mom, Sherry, and Jennifer.

A long time ago, I participated in a coffee house where the patrons were encouraged to write out haikus and deliver them at lulls in between the various acts.  So for example, a guitarist would go up, strum a few tunes inspired by Travis Tritt and Bryan Adams (just translate that to mean "terrible music"), and then someone would offer a break from the next guitar act with a delightful little haiku.  ...I don't know; maybe the myriad number of bad singers and performance artists so dramatically affected my judgment that improvisational poetry proved itself an acceptable option (just translate that to mean "reprieve from crappy songs").  Anyway, one friend of mine offered a haiku that has forever stayed with me.

Oh why do I do
The stupid things that I do?
Someone stop me please.

So what does that have to do with anything?

I present to you my report of The Bridgeland Sprint of 2011 --What I will forever call “The Bridgeland Dawdle.”

To begin.

I did not train much (bad idea # 1).
I drank on Friday (bad idea # 2).
I stayed in the sun on Saturday (bad idea # 3).
I ate poorly (bad for training - good for living happily) on Friday and Saturday: (bad idea # 4).
I stayed up too late the night before because of stress (bad idea # 5).
I didn't find any friends at beginning of race (sadness leads to lack of enthusiasm = bad idea # 6).

Oh why do I do...
THE SWIM: 500 meters.  
My goggles band snapped one minute before the race.  I tied them back together with ten seconds left before the start.  Then we were off.   Kicked in the head, kicked in the side, water in the eyes, swimming an extra 20 meters to the right, swimming an extra 20 meters to the left, I was a mess on the course. 

Anyway, for the first half of the  500 meters, I was with a group known as the Clydesdales.  That's right, the Clydesdales.  It's just a polite way of saying the big athletes (200 lbs. plus) and make no mistake.  The Clydesdales are not just  big guys.  They're BIG athletes -like defensive line athletes (…who swim …and kick with a lot of gusto).

Clydesdales to the right of me
Clydesdales to the left of me
Mine not to reason why
Mine but to swim ...or die.
On went the Charge
of the Not so light big guys.

I got passed a lot.  Despite their size, many of those beasts are fast (faster than me anyway).  
Eventually, another wave passed me too.  For that one, I blamed the Shiner Bock.  The good news though was that the extra fat provided buoyancy; the bad news remained that I was slow. 

How slow? 

Well I knew I was in a bad way when a few pink and blue swimcaps from a third wave were exiting the lake with me.  Still, I plodded into transition, dried off, grabbed my bike and shoes, put on my helmet and ambled forth to the gate.

Now gratefully, the bike is my best section.  I knew I would make up some time.  …Oh, the hubris.

Oh why do I do...
THE BIKE: 13.5 miles 
This was the 2nd or 3rd ride I have done with clips (which simply means that my cleats are  kind of locked to the pedals).  Now at the very start of the Bridgeland bike course, the cyclists start out on
Fry Road
(a major street).   In order to let car traffic pass through, the cops stopped a few of us right before we could turn out onto the road.  But because I was not completely used to my clips, I forgot how to unlock my shoes and I fell over. 

“Careful there!” yelled an old man who caught my side. 
“Hey, watch it!” yelled another cyclist (who was in no real danger of me hitting him).  Still, he wanted to make sure that I knew how much I had irritated him with my amateur move. 
The cop allowed cars to go by.  Twenty or so cyclists began to pile up and wait.  Not surprisingly, the old man began groaning so as to let me know that he possessed a finite amount of strength to hold me up.  As quickly as I could, I fixed my clips, I up righted myself, and stared at the ground as I was too much of a focal point for my taste.    People were staring  (probably not but then my ego made me think they were).

As I was anxious to get away from the cyclist who I almost toppled into, I stood up and peddled fast.  …He still passed me.

Only when I  grew tired and moved to sit down did I discover my seat's problem. It had fallen forward such that I was now leaning out forward  in a very uncomfortable position.  Stubborn, embarrassed, but still frustrated by such a slow beginning, I decided to grin and bear it, enduring the discomfort for what I knew would be a rather short ride.

…As it turns out, "short" remains a relative term.    For instance, if  in the company of good friends and family and enjoying a feast, good music, and laughter, well then "short" might mean a month or two.  In this case however, I was riding 13.5 miles with a seat angled to provide as much discomfort as possible.  I thought 13.5 miles would be brief enough.  However, the  angled seat allowed for maximum aggravation as it visited parts of my anatomy I'd just assume it never met.  “Short” ceased to exist.

I stood up in the saddle for a long time and plodded forward.

Bikes to the left of me.
Bikes to the left of me.
Mine not to reason why.
Mine but to bike …or try.

I got passed a lot. 

“On your left.”  The fast bikes passed me.
“On your left.”  The slow bikes passed me.
“On your left.” The mountain bikes.
 “On your left.”  Little children.
 “On your left.”   Slugs,  Turtles, Snails, etc.

Ultimately, I had to stop and readjust the seat.  Of course, this only made the seat loose so then I had twice the aggravation.  Either the seat would be too far forward and I received little support …or it fell backwards and attempted to wrack me with abandon.

...The stupid things that I do?
I finished the ride  --far slower than I originally thought. 

Looking at my watch, I knew I was in trouble.  The sun was out and up and ready to hurt.  Taking in the horribly high temperatures and humidity of the day, I knew that I would have a terrible run.  And at the very first step after dismount, my back let me know how true that was.

…I guess I should point out that I’ve gained 18 lbs since last January’s marathon and all of my lumbar vertebrae hate the new weight (the old weight?).  I do too.

THE RUN: 3.5 miles
This was the worst part.  Sure, every part of the race was slow but at least the pace was steady.  Here however, the running was sporadic and painful.  And in those moments, my conversations with myself  became my only escape.

Lower Back:  Are you kidding me?
Shame and Willpower:  Shut up.  We’re almost done.  Let’s just finish the darn race.
Left foot:  Um, stop now.
Shame and Willpower:  Can’t.  Friends have seen me.  I must keep going.
Body Hating the Heat:  This is already a terrible race.  Why not simply quit?  No one cares.  People don’t expect you to finish.
Shame and Will:  Honestly, I want to, but c’mon.  We’ve done this distance a lot.
Reality: We have not.  We have not done 3.5 all summer, you liar.
Shame and Will:  Well,  we’ve done 3.
New Fat around My Belly:  I haven’t.  This stinks.  Let’s go rest and have some cheese!
Reality: …We’ve done 3 a bit, but you have been terrible all summer.
Shame and Will:  Okay, I’ll do better.
Reality:  How are you going to run a marathon in January? 
Shame and Will:  I’m going to be consistent.
Reality:  You?  Do you know you?  I know you.  You are not consistent.
Anger:  Shut up.  I can do this.  Stop saying no.  I’m here now.
Lower Back:  Hey, check the time. How long have we been running?
Disbelief:  This can’t be right.
Lower Back:  What?
Regret:  I’ve only run .6 miles.
Back:  That’s plenty.  It’s hot out.  Just stop.
Will:  I’m almost done.
Reality: Technically, you’re almost begun.
Back:  Hey, how far have I gone now?
Will:  Stop it.  We’ll run 4 / 1 intervals.  Will that be enough?
Left foot:  Why not reverse that? Walk for 4 and run for 1?
Will:  Not talking.  I’m running.
Grammatical Non Sequitur: Hey, the grammarian part of your brain here.  Are you aware that you’re shifting person every other statement?
All:  Shut it.
Dory: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
Body:  Someone stop me please.

Pain to the right of me
Pain to the left of me
Mine not to reason why
Mine but to plod or die.

I ran.  I walked.  I griped.  I took an awful long time on the run.  Too long.  It could have been walked faster by my niece Lucy Grace …who hasn’t learned to crawl yet.  

Oh why do I do
The stupid things that I do?
Someone stop me please.

…But despite the heat, the chewmidity, and the pain in my lower back,  I finished.  I even got a medal.  Yeah, for that pathetic display, I got an accolade.  However, what I really got was a wake up call. 

REALITY CHECK:  No marathons will be completed with performances like that.

I began this week with the worst performance I’ve had in the last two years (and that is saying something). 

It was so embarrassing that I considered not writing the blog at all.  However, my friends came to the rescue once again.

All week long I’ve sought out trainers and running friends.  All week long I’ve stuck to my training schedule.  I’ve even incorporated yoga into my routine, and I’ve gotten serious about my food and drink choices (even forgoing meals  and drinks with friends four times  this week –I missed Mockingbirds, dinner after the Wednesday run, a Friday happy hour, and Saturday brunch).  I have even been adding extra core work with the hopes to strengthen my back as much as possible. 

And also, Beth Breuer forced me to run the entire loop at Memorial on Wednesday.  She thought the entire thing was psychological and I suspect she’s right for most of it.  Anyway, she didn’t quit on me or let me quit.  For that I am so grateful!  Sure,  I hated every step after the first mile, but I did it.  I know that sounds rather “ho hum,"  but man, it meant a lot to me.

In fact, it really seems that my Wednesday run and the diet have already provided me with some much needed confidence and resolve. 

…Because today, can you believe it?  I ran 7.

All that’s gonna be required for my success is consistency, I guess. Well if I'm honest, consistency, resolve, discipline, diet, friends, no belly, ...and a sense of humor.