Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mourning Athleticism Lost

I just received an email from Planet Ultra informing me that the Camino Real Double Century went well this year.

And it made me a little sad.
OK, a lot sad.

That means it's been over a year since I did my first double century with my favorite ultracycling buddies Robyn and coachubby. That means that at this time last year, I could swing my right leg over the Silver Bullet, clip in, and ride for 18 hours straight. Up mountains, down mountains, up mountains again. Just out there, enjoying my buddies' company. Or, you know, huddling together in a ditch on the side of the road in the freezing rain. That's fun, too.

And so, this evening, I mourn for my long lost ultrafitness, which has been obliterated by training weeks so short they don't even count as training, revenge of the hambutt, and a fondness for frosted bite-size chocolate mini wheats.

At least my brain is getting toned.
Proof? It hurts.


  1. It's kind of cruel isn't it? You work so hard to get into that kind of shape, you feel like you can literally do anything, but it's just ultimately unsustainable for most of us. Inevitably, something changes in your life - be it marriage, kids, school, work or whatever - and you move on. Your focus and priorities shift ever so slightly and the fitness you worked so hard to achieve just melts away at an alarming rate. I'm kind of in the same boat. My job changed and I went from a ten minute commute to an hour and a half. Three hours a day were gone just like that (guess which three hours!). Now, I'm left with the memories of what I used to be able to do and I haven't quite accepted the reality of where I'm at (witness the fact that I'm still signing up for 200 mile bike tours and 70.3 races). I'm on the edge of the envelope and holding out hope that I can rally here for a late surge, but time is getting shorter and there is only so much energy and so many hours you can commit to in one day. Plus, I just got some news that could potentially take out what little training time I have remaining, which would end my whole year before it even got rolling. After that, it's anybody's guess.

    But here's the thing you really have to keep in mind; you just can't do it all and that's okay. There is a natural ebb and flow to every life. Things that are the center of your world one day are shoved to the back burner by more important priorities the next. Every day you make choices as to what you define as important and you have to live with the results of those choices. I choose to do so with no regrets. There are worse reasons to reduce your training volume than taking care of your family or pursuing an advanced degree at a world-class school. There will come a time again when we have the bandwidth to focus on manic training and when/if we choose to do so, we have the knowledge and ability to get there. The fitness and drive may fade, but the know-how and experience never does. In the meantime, I'm going to do what I can to stay reasonably fit and healthy and not sweat the rest.

    While I'm not one to thump the bible, you know I love a good quote, so if you may indulge me a moment of religion, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3.1).

  2. Thank you, Joe! Your daughter is lucky to have such a level headed and insightful dad :) I needed a pep talk!

  3. Erin, that is frustrating! But remember hambutt, etc. didn't come from nowhere. Alternating intensities can be good and keep you sane, and remind why you did ultracycling to begin with. We're young, you have many years of crazy ultra-ing (can I use that "word") left! Love ya!

  4. Hang in there - you will ride ultras again!! After my first Ironman I had to go back to Toronto do do my last year of university (I did IM Canada at the end of my internship year in CA), plus on top of that I had to have surgery for an overuse injury once I did graduate which made my comeback even slower - but I came back, stronger and more motivated than ever! Then in 2007 I got hit by an SUV and got the shoulder injury that I struggled with for a year and a half and hardly any swimming or running and painful riding before finally having surgery in 2008 - things looked bleak back then, but I got past it! And you will get past your obstacles too! So hang in there, let your body enjoy the downtime while your brain picks up the brunt of the work, and know that you've got a whole lifetime ahead of you with a TONNE of new adventures waiting for you and coachubby!! :)

  5. THANK YOU JOAN!!! You are a freaking rockstar. I can't believe how many ultras and ironmans you've racked up. You make me look like a super sissy! (Plus, I like that you spell ton tonne :P

  6. Hang in there...I'm riding the wave of misery w/ for Ironman New Orleans and herniated my L5S1 disc at Christmas on long hilly ride AFTER running on a sprained ankle for 4 weeks...SHEESH..what next???? a royal pain in the arse that sent me to the ground one morning at 5am last week as I was getting up to go ride....weakened by my back, the piriformis has had to cmpensate soooo 4 weeks back in the saddle...and I'm out again...finally able to kinnda stand again w/o passing out....but training is our identity...its who we are, and as i watch my "girls" and husband and his "boys" sneak away on rides and runs I become a fit version of Sybil... unfair...and lord help the guy I was driving behind....w/ a USAT and 140.6 sticker on his car SMOKING as I was writhing in pain just trying to go and get some milk for the kids DARE he!!!!
    We're gonna be ok...we're tough gurlz...this is the mental part of training!!!
    :) In the meantime...find a pull buoy and swim like a fish

  7. Haha! Oh man, Jenn! 2010 has not been our year! I just destroyed my right hamstring after the left one was finally somewhat on the mend. I hope all of your injuries are starting to right themselves!

    I can't believe you saw someone with a USAT & 140.6 stickers smoking!

    You're right. This is the mental part. And if we can get through this, we can get through any future training impediments without having an identity crisis :)