Monday, October 12, 2009

Is This the Beginning?

It's no secret that the last 12 months have not been terribly kind, in particular the last few; but as Ben pointed out on Saturday, it all started with the Baltimore Marathon 2008 and maybe with this past weekend's Marathon in the books, it's time for a fresh start.

Last year at Baltimore I traveled on my trusty steel steed, the 2002 Airborne. I parked it in the Inner Harbor, locking it to a light post outside of Hooters. When the race was over I headed back to it, to find it gone. This was impossible - surely there was no way, amidst thousands of people, someone had cut my lock and stolen my bike.

A year later, my fleet of bikes has been decimated, ravaged harder than [insert things that get ravaged here, including but not limited to naval fleets, porn stars, carcasses]. I had 4, but after the stolen bike, a bike on loan and the crash, I'm down to just the trusty Orbea, which is now 4 years old.

Following Baltimore it was a series of missteps, from a terrible day at New York Marathon, to the land of the unemployed, to an even worse day at Boston, to the accident, and the list goes on. The good news is you see that you can have just about everything taken from you, and yet life goes on - particularly when you have the help and support of friends and family. So I'm pretty fortunate I've got a standup crew in my corner.

This year's Baltimore Marathon included me, on my feet, at the expo for 12 hours on Thursday, with another 7 hours on Friday. Long days. My brother came in Friday afternoon and after a PT session late in the day, we headed to Zero's for a little pasta party. Saturday morning came and it was oddly warm, and we were over at the stadium to see the start before making our way to mile 9/the half start. There we met up with Barf, Stanford and Alyssa, watched runners go by at miles 9 and then 13, and then the half marathon start. Then it was time to go to the finish. Conditions deteriorated and it was no longer enjoyable to be outside. Emily walked down (a hefty walk for her in her condition!) and we watched until my brother came through.

As a result of the long days on my feet, my brother in town and a late night Sunday, I didn't make it to the pool after Wednesday of last week. On Monday I had only the mental fortitude to make it to PT, and Tuesday looked like I was headed towards another day off. I just didn't have it, mentally I was wiped, physically I am and have been wiped. What I struggle with is the eternal question of "why?"

Why would I want to put time into real training right now when it hurts to do it, and I can't do anything anyway? Why would I want to make the effort when the chances of me racing anytime soon, or even in 2010, are slim to none, because there's a million things that would have to happen first to allow that? Why even try, when it could all be snatched from me again anyway in another split second?

One good reason is that I still have (at least) one goal: to qualify for and compete in the biggest event for a triathlete, the Hawaii Ironman. As I've mentioned a million times, it's what got me where I am now. I've tried, unsuccessfully, for the past two seasons to get there. Next year it may not happen either, but I've got to keep trying. And when it comes down to it, that's all we can ever do. I know 6 people who competed at Kona this weekend, and I'm trying to keep their efforts in mind as I've been slumping.

Instead of moping on Tuesday, I dragged my butt down to the super warm, over-chlorinated pool and swam. It wasn't much, just 2000m, but it was something. And then after timing everyone in the cold up at the track, I felt like I finally earned that Tuesday Night Chipotle.

Today was a better day. I had a good session at PT, then smacked the pool up for 3000m. It's hard right now because I lost a ton of fitness in the month of September, and all my parts aren't functioning at 100%, so I'm swimming a bit slower than I was in August and it's taking more out of me than it should. Following the pool, I hit the weights and I feel like I'm getting some strenf back.

I even felt good walking home, with a fairly normal rhythm, but later in the night my knee was on fire and fairly swollen. Maybe I overdid it a little today.

But at least it's not the end.


Jen said...

Congrats on your good day. Keep working for those, while remembering not to overdo it. Listen to your body carefully.

More importantly, Britney Spears new single "3" (about threesomes) is my new jam.

JARRIN said...

Ryan -

It's not over until we're dead. It's not over until we mentally resign ourselves to give up. It's not over until our will is gone.

Ryan McGrath is neither dead, nor resigned to give up. Ryan McGrath has ambition to spare.

The frustration of having to battle physical impediments, job circumstances and peripheral life issues must be daunting. You've had shit luck for a while and the cloud seems to linger. But it's at these moments when we learn who we are, how we deal with these obstacles, who our real friends are, and how determination is more than just survival.

You are one strong fucker; strength of will, conviction, and tenacity. Frustration is a natural part of this crap cloud that's following you. But someday, sooner rather than later, this bad patch will be forever lodged in history as the time in your life when you came back from the abyss while realizing your strength. Getting over this abyss will be one of your greatest accomplishments.

Keep up the solid work and steps forward - any - are better than none.