I had a sudden realization yesterday, which fits in nicely with this being the season of Epiphany. As recovering alcoholics will tell you, sometimes you have to reach rock bottom before you become "teachable." I certainly was in a deep dark place for a while, just waiting for an answer.
First, I sucked it up and went for a hill run yesterday. Eight degrees and a windchill of -6, ice covered with snow to be extra slick. The plan was to charge up the Ohio Street hill a dozen times, getting my heart rate to maximum and holding it there as long as possible. I managed only to get to 90% maximum and my legs gave out at the start of the fifth time up and I was wheezing; so 4.6 miles in 42 minutes. But it didn't hurt! My right foot and ankle have been a mess, but uphill on soft snow was not a problem - it hurt a lot later in the day and I coughed for hours. I'm...not...done...yet!
There's a clarity that comes with complete exhaustion. I'd been thinking about everything that's been going wrong in my life of late and, as much as I hate to admit it, it was all of my own making. I like chaos. I like the excitement of being on the knife's edge of failure. I like being told something's impossible, then breaking rules no one had ever considered breakable and doing it.
I looked at a bunch of failed relationships in my past. Never the stable guy, I wanted to be the hero that puts everything right when it's falling apart - and when things aren't falling apart fast enough, I might give them a push.
Wow. I'm a jerk. I need to make some changes!
(that particular realization hurt)
This particular character flaw permeates all of my life - including my running. Thinking that I'm training in the most efficient way possible, I'm actually doing the absolute least work possible to make success just barely attainable; I'm setting myself up for failure. If the slightest thing goes wrong, I'm not ready, but I love the excitement of the situation. Underprepare, stay up all night before the race, don't bring needed supplies, skip aid, whatever it takes to make it certain it'll be almost impossible.
When I crashed at Afton (2008), I did the impossible. Finishing that race was unimaginable, but I pushed the dislocated hip back into the socket (and yelled a bit...) and got up and continued. I continued against the advice of race workers and other runners. I got to the finish and ended up spending two days in hospital with a psych evaluation. The thing is, I set myself up to get hurt.
They say the unexamined life is not worth living. Mine must be worth something, then. Growing up sucks when it happens half-way through!
Now, time to start doing something with what I've learned.
6 days ago