A First, and not a Good One.
Yesterday I had to walk briefly during my 10 km race. At mile 5.5, I was so hot and dehydrated I walked for about two minutes, then jogged for a few minutes, walked again, and then finally jogged the rest of the way in. I finished in 1:02 and change. Which is about a 10:07 pace. Last year, I did this same race at a 9:07 pace. I’d never walked during a race before.
This year was 5 degrees warmer, 10% higher humidity, and no wind, compared with a 7mph breeze last year. All convenient excuses for the truth: I am not nearly as fit as last year. I’ve run about 250 fewer miles this year than last. And while I’ve put a lot of bike miles in, they just don’t do the same thing for me as running.
Heat is incredibly challenging for me, but I managed it far better last year than this year. I did that because last year I got out there and ran in the heat, however slowly, four or five times a week. This year I’ve been lazier, and differently focused. I know what I need to do, but I’m reluctant to do it because it’s hard.
If I want to do another triathlon, I need to add the bike and swimming to my running. Not replace it. I have gotten myself into a place right now where being marathon fit in November is going to be a real challenge. I’m embarrassed about that. I’m still just kind of flabbergasted that I could train for and complete an Olympic triathlon while losing fitness.
It says something about me that “I’m not in shape” has come to mean, “I am not, at the moment, in the best shape of my life.” I have long lived in the realm of superlatives. I am the best or the worst or whatever. It’s an exhausting place to live. It’s a kind of obsession. I have never had any trouble accepting that I am not the best athlete. But it is very difficult to accept that I’m not the best I’ve ever been, right now.
I let myself falter. And not being the best I’ve ever been feels like it means its not worth doing anything. So I tell myself, over and again, that my goal is not to be the best I’ve ever been. That’s fine and nice. My goal is to not get diabetes. My goal is to be able to hike and travel and explore when I’m 80. My goal is to be fit for trying new challenges with my partner.
And yet, when my fitness lapses, despite my regular endeavors to maintain or improve it, I feel lazy and stupid and fat and ugly and ashamed. Instead I need to look at what I’ve accomplished. I look good in a suit. I can run a long way. I can finish a marathon and a triathlon. I don’t drink or smoke. I’m maintained my mental health to the point that I can productively participate in a relationship. My life is good.
I am not currently in the best shape of my life. And that’s ok.