Lean in

March 9, 2013

I walked out of the gym and I noticed.

I don’t feel thrashed anymore. Close to one year of this strength training and I am no longer crawling. The soreness from beginning is no longer the soreness I feel, it’s the soreness from reaching. I can now do a push up correctly, and I can do many. I now can spidercrawl backwards down the length of the back hallway… the one at the tennis courts…. without dying. I was told only one person had ever done that with a weighted vest and while at first I said no way in hell … when I got home it became…. I could do that. I am not shrinking away from it I am looking it in the eye. My weakness no longer rocks my mind… it lights me up.

I can jump rope on one foot. I can sprint across the gym after a rolling basket ball… from a push up spider crawl position and sometimes…. sometimes beat the basketball to the wall (depends how fast it was rolled). I can shuffle side to side. I can draw the alphabet with a stability ball while I am in a forearm plank. Did I mention I can jump rope on one leg… single time? Because I can.

What does any of that have to do with triathlon? A lot more than I think or I am willing to admit. Running paces are finally…. finally beginning to fall. Power numbers are finally…. finally starting to go up. The SI joint pain that usually comes with volume…. in one session with Steve was somehow taken care of. Through movement.

For so long I felt like the wall was in front of me, but I am handling mileage and volume better than I ever have before. It’s because of many things, strength being one of them. I remember and I will always know that I am only as strong as my weakest link. For this Ironman I will have no weak link.

My mind has shifted from what’s behind me to what is before me. The past can be a deadly trap. A ball and chain if you let it. The future means possibility regardless of how you slice it. It’s a canvas ready to be painted. This time it’s not shaded with what has been or what has happened it’s bright and white and clean waiting for what will become.

Soon. Very soon the tires of my bike will touch the road. I will ride my usual long rides that show me what a beautiful place I live in. Past the Alpacas, past the farm with that one dog. I will soon stop at that one gas station in Bristol… the one that looks more like a log home than a store. The man who owns it will… as he always does….. welcome me to another season of the open road. I will ask him about his winter and he will look at me through eyes that have seen more than I can ever understand… and he will give me his opinion on the state of the world. I will listen for as long as it takes. Because these are the conversations I love.

There will be that group of older men who sit in the Adirondack chairs and have coffee before they head down to the lake to go fishing. They will comment on my bike and they will tell me to be safe. I will tell them to be careful of sharks… because I saw Jaws…. and they will laugh. It’s almost a routine… almost a dance that I look forward to every year.

But this year it comes with a little more specialness…. a little more hopefulness. As my wheels touch down on the road (soon, please soon) I will watch the world come alive again. The brown trees slowly regain color and by that time they will be just about to bloom.

And that’s how I feel too.

They don’t worry about what happened, they look ahead to what’s to come. They will bring with them the good pieces of their journey and leave the rest where it should stay. They look to the sky…. just like I do now…. with big eyes and an open heart and there is still fear.

There will always be fear. But we aren’t ruled by it anymore.

There are no guarantees except one. The canvas is ours. It’s up to us to paint it every single day.

As I walked to my car the other morning, after I realized that a year’s worth of work has finally begun to take effect…. I smiled. To be honest I cried (I know… such a sap). I cried not because I can jump rope, or because I am handling mileage. I cried because almost a year ago I was terrified and I was stuck. I got out of bed that morning and went to a class because I just needed to be around people. I got my ass kicked and I hated it. I couldn’t move side to side and I hated it. I couldn’t balance on a  stability ball and I hated it. I felt so weak and I hated it. I wasn’t handling mileage and my performance was down….. and while I had good reason for it to be….. I had the excuse…. a legitimate one…. I was at the bottom of a hole.

Walking in there was my first step up.

It doesn’t matter what happened. What “it” was. What matters is that we have all been there in one way or another. We all have our own battle, our own fight. We can’t always control it but we can choose how we react to it all. We choose what we can do with it. We choose whether we recline …. or lean into it.

Never recline. Never….. ever recline.


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