Friday, October 29, 2004

Can't Sleep

I guess it's fine since there is a party tonight and a few tomorrow night, and if my nocturnal patterns are more owl than sunflower, then so be it.

After careful consideration (this was tonight, while walking back to my apartment after depositing some money) I've decided to only spend the $150 on Mark Allen's online coaching after November 14. I get paid that day, so I don't violate my budget (which is simply to add W1 million each month in savings), but if I buy the eCoaching before then I will dip under W1 million. I just don't want to do that.
Doing it this way I have two weeks to get into a pattern of training. I have two weeks to raise my game and then start the coaching and feedback. I think it is a good decision to do it this way because it makes a few things easier.

It's funny, initially I was resisting it and just wanting to insist on paying and getting started. I feel it is this attitude, the petulant child insisting on his way, in an environment that is nothing like a school yard, that gets me into trouble. Getting your way is not always good for you. Especially when you don't know what you're doing. And given that my last two races didn't come off, I guess that about describes my training, my execution, my way. Patience needs to become a resource.
It is an odd impulse for an athlete, now that I think about it. I often feel that what makes a good athlete, sometimes, is impatience, impertinence, even imperception to the full vision of discomfort that lies ahead.
Lance Armstrong seems to personify that. He has an arrogance, an anger, which helps him as an athlete. And initially, for him, I think there was also a certain amount of ignorance.

If someone passes you on the road and you don't care that they are faster than you, you don't have a competitive spirit in you, you won't make much of an athlete. Not so in the Ironman. Not for me. I think I am getting that. The spirit is imbedded much deeper in Ironman, simply because it is a race that is so hard to finish. There has to be a minimal focus on others, and maximal focus on what you are doing at each moment, each hour, so you can complete the next. There's something primal, and exciting in that, for me. It's really a powerful metaphor for life. I felt that recently in the movie 21 grams. Where it is all mixed up, the past and future, different lives, different messes. But some threads of sanity prevail. Some basic truths emerge.

So I have some time, and freedom, to get myself moving. And I can maintain the progress I have made, saving another identical dino-size chunk of money in the given timeframe.

It's also interesting to see what brought me to the point of actually looking at the financial thing and saying, hang on, can't I possibly not do this, rather than spend big and save little amounts that will have little effect. It was because I wrote a plan and on it, one of my stipulations to myself was Limit big spending. When I saw that I immediately identified the eCoaching as a big outflow. And I saw, immediately, that this was a case, but how to do that when I felt the purchase was really quite important. It is gratifying to see that I have a more subtle, less crunch, approach to problem solving. Hopefully I can maintain this mental tightrope walk for a while.

I will need to be as balanced as I can be as I move into a training pattern. Lately it has been a bit haphazard. But I am glad I did the marathon on Sunday. It showed me how strong the human body is when we believe in it. I managed to finish the 42.2km despite only running 6 times in 6 weeks. I expect to train a lot harder, A LOT HARDER, in the next few days and weeks. Let's hope my body will remain strong and not wither (from exhaustion) as it has the before the last two Ironmans. I guess it is total discipline. Not just when to train, but when to rest. No just when to go hard, but when to accept that slower is better.

One thing I have realised is that it is a long race, and the average speed for something lasting 10 hours or more is not very high. So it makes sense to train a lot at low speed, a lot of hours going slow, and not be concerned that it is too easy. The marathon I just did is ample evidence of that. Even with so little fitness, it was easy to motor along slowly at 6 minutes a kilometre. I kept that up easily until 24km - the magical energy boundary - and struggled from then on. Yes, struggled to run even slowly. So with that mentality, of being able to maintain a slow steady pace, I think one has to go into training. Slow but sure. Slow but smooth.

I also think mentality plays a huge part of this. I want to educate, probable REeducate myself mentally aswell. One thing that I want to pay attention to is the question of identity. It is easy to play with words, but what is the answer to: 'Who are you really?' Because the core of the question addresses identity, and I really came upon this realisation today that I don't really know. This seems to me to be the reason why it was so difficult to choose a job. And a girlfriend. To make any choices. To sustain friendships. Yes, for friends to be able to relate and especially to understand you. And of course, to understand yourself. To know your choices for what they are, and not just make intelligent stabs in the dark.
Identity brings the light, and gives context, gives wisdom to mere cleverness. Because I think if you don't have a solid concept of yourself, then everthing is watery and impermanent and hard to read. So a good place to start is by forging an identity. How do you do that? I don't know. Explore. Write. Decide. Venture. Be 'advertant' as opposed to 'inadvertant'.
Identity I suppose says a lot. About your values, what you want.

One thing I guess I can say is I am an athlete.

I am able to run.

I can train.

I can push myself.

I can even say I am an endurance athlete.

That begins to show me what sort of lifestyle has to be built around this road that I am travelling. The suburbs of the lifestyle are the foods, entertainments and sprawling distractions that help pave the way I guess. I need to remember to pay attention to identity, so that the road is the right road, through the right map. So that it is a good road. A good journey, with a good view. It never really occurred to me before, during the 2003 attempt at Ironman Korea, but the idea crept in this year. It will be interesting to see how it materialises over the course of the 3rd try. Maybe the gift of the Ironman for me will be that. A new sense of identity.

So I will have to find an identity for myself where I am able to hold back when that is necessary. My identity, a part of it, until now is just this persona that allows an outflow of energy.

I wonder how many people, athletes, like Mr Pi over here in Korea, will go to South Africa. It will be nice if it's a few. To do battle on home turf is always memorable.

Maybe I will swim at 13:00. Today is Friday and the 20 week period officially starts on Monday, so if I don't want to train, I am free not to. But I think it is evidence of my enthusiasm that even if I don't have to exercise, sometimes it's fun, and obviously it's healthy, so why not? I have a slight cold now, so I must take everything easy.

I want to reach Monday with as clean a bill of health as I can muster. A good start is as important as a good finish.


Daniel said...

Went for a massage last night...walking on back style. Lady explained to me that heartbeats of lower than 60bts per minute are just not healthy. she also said I need an EKG/Scan heart something...hahahah..I thought of you, Nick and all the guys from years back. If only she knew. How could she?
Yes, you are an edurance athlete. Understand that. Understand the drive. Because few others will.

Nick said...

How was it having someone walk all over you?
Anyway, thanks for checking in. I hope this inspires you to get back into triathlon. I think you can still be a koning gatskopper.