I still can't train. I still can't train. I still can't train.
AHHHH! Who am I?! I am suffering from UAS - Unidentified Athlete Syndrome. UAS is when training has begun to define you as an individual, and then, due to circumstances also known as acts of God, i.e. those totally outside of your control (injury, family emergency, etc.), you are suddenly unable to train and even unable to race. You first just feel a little stir-crazy once the initial shock has worn off, but then you start to struggle with UAS. The thing that has begun to define you has suddenly disappeared... and you can't even control it. Chances are, this will happen when the weather is particularly fantastic and you can regularly see packs of cyclists and runners with well-behaved large dogs flying past on the road outside your home. While you sit on the sofa trying to remember how you lived before you were outside with those people. Or by yourself, flying solo down deserted country roads, just you and the blue sky and the giant sprawling plains and rolling hills, or gliding through cool open waters... Training... And then it's like, you can't remember how you lived before that! Did you live? Was life remotely exciting or fulfilling or anything? Did the sun really shine as bright? The sky really seem as blue, as when you saw it from the saddle of your Specialized Transition? There is a deep and disturbing suspicion that they did not...
How do we fight the blues of UAS? How am I fighting them? Or trying to, anyways... ? The past few days have been pretty revealing. I love the fact that I tend to throw myself head first into new hobbies and even life-changing decisions. I'm all about full-hearted spontaneous life-changing decisions. Actually, they've defined a lot of my life. But suddenly, I've realized I'm not invulnerable. And that, by letting triathlons dominate my entire life, I've set myself up for potentially brutal let-downs. Chances are, the problem I'm having right now will probably resolved in a few weeks max (knock on wood). My racing season will probably not be drastically affected by my current situation - slight knee pain due to a yoga over-dose - but I've been forced to realize in the past few days that there is always the possibility that I might not always be able to eat, sleep, and breathe triathlon. And it might not be my choice. People get hurt. Accidents happen. Lives have to change.
I was really fortunate a couple of months ago to briefly date a guy who is a nationally competitive chair racer. When he was younger, something happened that caused him to lose the use of both legs, putting him in a chair. I feel like, if this happened to me, my life would end. I wouldn't be able to go on or be happy. But here is this incredible man who faced one of the greatest challenges anyone will ever have to face... and I literally never once heard him complain about it. Ever. I Googled him one day and found an article where he talked about being in rehab, and realizing "it really wasn't going to be an issue." Instead of letting it end his life, or define it in a negative way, he let it turn his life into something amazing where he competes at a national level and is an advocate for the millions of other people in his situation. He's funny and fun and occasionally dry and sarcastic... and incredibly good-looking, if I may say so myself. People are amazed by him because he's overcome so much and always kept on living, kept a positive attitude, didn't let anything hold him back... and that not only inspires amazement, but confidence. It shows us the potential fortitude of human nature under duress - that perhaps we, too, could keep on living after everything we've used to define ourselves is changed or taken away.
We didn't stay together long... conflicting personalities, I think. But I still have immense respect for him. And so part of me looks at myself right now and sees my complete distress and then looks at him and feels really, really small. So I obviously have to find some way to deal with it, and not be the person who let's themselves sit in their discontent and frustration and make themselves and the people around them even a little less happy. Because that's just not worth it. So I took some steps today. I couldn't ride my bike or take a run... but I could sit outside in the beautiful Texas weather on a giant deck with cold water and a well-written book, with a friend and good conversation. I could see my sports chiro/ART specialist, and do as much as could be done to combat whatever this problem is. I could go to my team's swim practice, and do some underwater running and maybe some drills. I could decide to go to my race on Sunday, and just swim, if that's all I can do, because, well, I'm already signed up. I could go to REI and buy a pair of Chacos like I've always wanted and a Life is Good Nalgene with a little dude riding a TT bike on it. I could work on our team's website because that's something that's important to them, and that I can do for them. I can do all of these things. Or I can sit at home. With a bag of ice. And be miserable. And make my roommates more depressed. Well. Be honest with yourself. Which would you pick?
I came really close to making the wrong choice today. But then I remembered that I don't want to be that person. That's not the kind of person with the mental toughness to do multi-sport. That's not me. So. I'm going to swim practice.