My Resurrection of the Athlete Resolution is in full swing now. My training has caught early momentum. I've planned workouts, made some dietary changes, added supplements to the program. I feel good. I feel incredibly strong. I find myself saying, "I haven't felt this way in a long time," though I'm not sure if I ever consciously felt like this before. I've training seriously before, but it was more robotic when I was young. I know it made me feel good, but as I look back I was much more disconnected. I didn't know how strong I was. The advantages of being a committed athlete over the age of 40 -- and probably for many in their 30's too -- is the mindfulness of it.
Even when I trained for the LA Marathon, my motivation was more about endurance, getting through the damn thing; finishing what I started. The training was not very joyful nor was I necessarily always present in the process. The race itself was joyful and emotional, but I rolled my eyes at the training, hoped it would be over quickly.
The advantage of always being an athlete -- whether taken for granted or not -- is a recall to push through the panic of physical exertion. Obviously if you're injured you can't push, but there is a very wide gap between injury and discomfort though these lines feel blurred in the process; especially if unaccustomed to the feeling. It is very hard to learn how to push yourself to your abolute limits if you never have before. I know it has been hard to relearn it. But pushing through that panic, stepping over some brink that makes you uneasy or unsure, is like busting through emotional walls of sludge. There is a euphoria on the other side. It's an amazement at what your body can do; how strong you can be mentally and physically. With it comes a trust in yourself and your abilities. It's how we should feel about everything we do.
On Saturdays I take a spin class from The Coach. He's not a spin instructor, but a cyclist and a trainer, and he trains us on the indoor bikes like we are about to race time trials for the Tour de Whatever. I eat up everything he says because he's as close as I'm going to get to a personal cycling coach right now. I treat Saturdays as my Hard Day. Each day is mapped out in terms of intensity: Interval Days, Easy Recovery Days, The Hard Day. And this last Saturday was so hard that in the last five minutes of the last very steep hill as I gasped and power-pedaled on a spin bike I panicked. And then I weighed my options: Should I just throw up right on the bike? If I faint, will my shoes stay clipped into the petals and will that mess up my knees? I thought about easing the resistance a hair -- JUST A FUCKING TOUCH -- and that's when The Coach said into the microphone, "This is when you will question yourself whether you can make it, whether you can go on. The answer is yes. Yes, you can make it." I was mad, for a second, because I wouldn't let myself off the hook then. He was right. I could make it, and I did make it. And I didn't die though it was touch and go for a second there. When I made it up the hill, when I was allowed to take off the resistance and roll out my legs, a ball of light rose from my gut to my chest and planted itself behind my brow. I am so strong, I thought. My body is amazing.
I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying the whole process, puke thoughts and all.
I'm not the only one training in our house. Husband has become serious with mountain biking and he plans to do a race this year. It's the perfect design to both be interested in bikes but in two different aspects. We can geek out with bike speak without having to feel competitive with each other.
Mina has started tennis, which she loves. And Maya has been picked up by a local club basketball team where she trains with other serious ballers her age and older. In our immediate area, there seems to be a decline in girls participating in athletics which has been so disheartening to me. I had signed Mina up for the school basketball program and it was cancelled for lack of girl participants. Volleyball is very popular with girls around here and maybe tennis, but not much else. Mina only plays soccer because she's the only girl on the boys' team. But when I walked into the gym to watch Maya's club practice, I regained some hope. These girls weren't fucking with their hair or clothes. They weren't talking (too much). They were running drills, intently trying to improve their game under the guise of a fantastic (female) coach who took them seriously. Maya fit right in.
I'll keep you posted on all our training efforts.
In the meantime, here's a gorgeous photo of Maya's new haircut. How cute is that? I think mainly I feel huge affection for the fact that she's brave enough and old enough to make her own decisions about her looks and style. Man, I love these girls so much.