Thursday, April 28, 2011


Photo: clarkmaxwell, Flickr Creative Commons

Holy shit.

I just realized that I went the entire month of April without posting. This isn't good. I should be writing, and this is currently my only outlet in that area. It's probably irrelevant though. We all know I'm never going pro as a writer. I'd never be able to be self-employed. I lack that part of me that gets me off my ass and working unless I have someone over my shoulder.

Still, that hasn't stopped me from daydreaming a lot lately about going pro as a cyclist, even if it's by far more of a long-shot than the older writing dreams. I have never possessed any athletic talent. My best will always be competent, and I'm okay with that. Although, despite my earlier claims to the contrary, I've been an effing badass when it comes to motivation lately. I put almost a hundred miles on my borrowed bike last month and that included the fact that I had to squeeze in a lot of my training rides after both a full workday and a second partial workday as a tennis coach. I was also having to split training days with running (18 miles) and swimming (4.5 miles). I missed 100 miles on the bike and the running was down from an average of about 40 miles a month because I missed four days of training in the middle there when I was too sick to go out, although even then I trained on most of the days I was sick.

I ride in my first criterium bike race this weekend. I'll be a category 5 rider (basically beginning racer) and I honestly have no idea how I'll perform. Two weeks after that I run my first sprint triathlon. I've already set my two next goals of completing a marathon within a year and graduating up to the Olympic-distance triathlons by the end of next year. I'm sticking with the cycling.

I enjoy running. I don't have to force myself to go out on my run days. I've run high on sore throat and cough syrup. (That actually made me nauseous.) I've run through drizzling rain. But I've never been excited about running. I love what's it's done for me. It was the gateway into a new mindset for me and I'm glad for that, but I'm beginning to verge on the obsessive with cycling. I look forward to my biking days. I want to go out on my rides. I spend free time reading about cycling and lusting after bikes I'll never be able to afford. I like the speed. I like the fact I can go out farther from my house and see things I would never get around to seeing on foot, and I still get that zen-like state I get while running. My mind clears, I'm out on my own, and temporarily not a father or husband, just a guy repeatedly contracting and relaxing his leg muscles. My om mani padme hum comes from the rhythms of my feet striking the ground or following the circle of the pedals.

Swimming, I don't love so much. I'm too busy concentrating on not choking from timing my breathing wrong to be able to think. My swim days are merely tolerated. At least I have the self-discipline now to do it anyway. I have improved though. I'm a decent swimmer. I just don't really enjoy it.

You know what, screw reality. I fully expect to get noticed during my race on Saturday and get signed by a local semi-pro team. By the end of the summer, I'll be able to turn in my notice and go pro, where I'll be able to travel the world and continue to live my current teacher's lifestyle. One day, I'll make the roster for a team in the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia where I'll play a support role to help my superior teammates win stages or the team finish in the top three. That's right, even in my wildest dreams, I'm only just good enough to make a living.

Maybe this is why I haven't been writing lately. Sure, part of it is the lack of free time I've had, but I haven't really been thinking about much besides the bike, my running, and swimming in the last month, and, while it all fascinates me, I can't say I want to turn this blog into one that focuses solely on athletics.


Courtney said...

Your fitness routine is very impressive lately. I've always had a problem motivating myself to go exercise. I don't love myself enough to keep my body healthy, apparently.

Jacob said...

The key for me was to first set a goal that would require me to perform publicly and convince myself it would be embarrassing to fail at my goal publicly. Then I found a formal routine (used a training routine I found online from a respectable source) and then stuck to that. After a couple of weeks of sticking to the routine, I actually got to the point that I actually kind of liked the exercise. I've ramped up my workouts by setting higher goals each time. That's why I keep doing stupid races that I can't win. I put a financial incentive not to fail as well as a social incentive. Eventually, you get used to the suffering and mildly addicted to the endorphins.

Believe me, it wasn't because I loved myself. I was motivated more by self-loathing in the beginning. Now that I've accomplished a few things, I'm motivated by pride and enjoyment. It's nice to be able to have those motivate you instead of the more negative reasons.

I've even gotten my wife working up to running a mile. I didn't make her. She just kept hearing me talk about and seeing how it's changed me physically and mentally and she wants to keep up. I can't convince her to set a public goal though. I think she lacks the self-confidence and willingness to take a risk that I had.

Jacob said...

I have NEVER been able to stick with an exercise routine where I didn't have a schedule. I think if I just tried to wing my running training last year I would have quit in less than a month. But having that sheet telling me that it was Wednesday in the fourth week of my schedule and I had exactly this distance to run really gave me something to focus on.

Jacob said...

Also, it would probably help if you looked disgustingly bloated in photos of you. Unfortunately, you aren't fat and ugly like I was.

Seriously, I was fucking gross for the last, oh, 10 years.

Mickey said...

Does a backpacking trip fit anywhere in your plans? By the sound of it, I'll be the one worried about keeping up.

Badass, man. I still wonder if I'll ever decide to do a marathon. That was my initial motivation to start running, and then I overdid it. But I've been happy lately doing 4-6 miles at a time, and maybe if I keep that up and start stretching the distance again I'll start dreaming. I've never wanted to just DO a marathon. If I do one, I want it to be under 3.5 hours. (Actually, I want 3 hours, but that might be unrealistic.)

But then I get to thinking about all those long, boring training runs and realize I'd probably just be happier blazing the occasional 5 or 10K and using running to keep in shape for things like backpacking and climbing.

Jacob said...

Backpack hopefully in the first couple of weeks after school. Late May, early June. I'm not planning on doing longer than what I do now, except for when I do the specific marathon training over a few months before the race I choose. My goal time would be closer to 4 hours though.

Julie said...

Your training schedule really is impressive. I've been doing happy dances periodically over the extra time I have in my schedule thanks to Mickey (Thank you, Mickey!!) but I can't imagine finding enough time to to all the running, swimming, cycling and tracking. Bravo!