Piano lessons I've found to be maybe the single most useful thing I did from age 7-16 (other than learning how to fold notes into crazy oragami shapes and curl my bangs under without blow-drying my hair), and not just because I studied music in college. I feel like that and swimming are the two things that force your brain to grow differently, and it's tough to learn these skills as an adult because your brain is busy making snarky Facebook comments and reading hetexted.com and trying to keep the vodka from destroying the brain cells you have left. While I sat through year after year of piano lessons, I was not on the swim team. Unless you count the half of a summer that I swam with one hand pinching my nose closed and the other drunkenly paddling me across the pool until my parents mercifully let me quit, which I do not. And every time my alarm clock goes off at 5:15am for masters, I grumble about this fact.
I did, however, spend a great deal of time on skis growing up. I have a dim memory of skiing between my dad's legs on tiny little 18" skis. I recall Monday night ski lessons and hundreds of weekends at Blue Mountain, eating peanut butter sandwiches in the van to save money, and I remember MANY MANY hours spent in the car driving to winter vacations in extremely cold places to ski some more.
(How's that for the saddest snowman you've ever seen?) Except for the mini-vacation the poet and I took after
No, it is not possible for someone to point a camera at me without my instinctive response being to pose like an asshole, but thank you for asking. I learned how to ski on the east coast, which means I could probably make it down the side of a mountain covered in pebbles and ice chunks instead of actual snow. Strapping on my skis and swishing around in the powder here - even the sloppy spring powder - is basically my idea of heaven.
I spent Saturday sliding down the side of a mountain with a good training friend (I know we look 80 years old but the sun was pretty squinty). While we did have some training-related conversations, most notably her recent marathon domination, I did not for one single second worry about the swimming, biking, or running I "should" have been doing instead of the eating, drinking, skiing triathlon that we completed. And we didn't just complete it. We were dream crushers of eat drink ski. BBQ beer DOWN THE MOUNTAIN AHOY!!
My perspective is changing, and I imagine that what generally happens when your perspective changes is that you can't believe it was any other way. I think about where my mind was a year ago, and I probably would have spun myself into a complete tizzy about missing an entire day of training - especially a weekend day of 65º weather following an entire weekend of trainer time (more on this in a second) - so close to a race. Even if I wasn't fussing outwardly, I would have been fretting on the inside, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the day because missed-training anxiety. And why? For what reason? Who does that help? Winning triathlons is not my job. Training and racing is a hobby. It's one that I enjoy tremendously and work pretty hard at, but that's all it is.
That's not to say that I have been living a crazy life of sex, drugs, rock & roll. Most of my TrainingPeaks boxes have been turning green (stupid sit-ups). Here and there, a few are yellow, and even though I didn't worry on Saturday doesn't mean I don't occasionally fall off the ledge, but if I take a step back and look at the big picture, I'm getting the work done. The other things that matter, those have been getting done too. I am a professional sleeper, I get 8-10 hours every night. Except for The Great Peep & Potato Chip PMS incident of last week, my nutrition has been solid. I've lost the 12lbs that I put on during the off-season and a couple more on top of that. I spend time in the recovery boots playing Tetris and looking at Instagram on my phone. Stress can't be micromanaged like food and sleep, but I'm working on that, too.
The flip side of taking a day off to go ski happened the weekend before, when Yasi came out for a big training weekend. Our original plan was to spend several hours a day, several days in a row, riding our bikes. All over Boulder, up and down mountains, around lakes, everywhere our two wheels could take us. That went well.
So instead we shipped the bicycle work inside, and I only had one freakout about the riding I was missing (please see: I'm a work-in-progress). We made the complete round of my personal Boulder triathlon training stomping grounds. First up was masters while the blizzard was still blizzard-ing (we took this picture a few days later, it was too cold that morning). I love being in the warm pool while snow is falling, especially when I swim under the flags just as a giant snowball falls off and nails me in the back of the swim cap. Love.
We spent a big chunk of the weekend in the pain cave at work for trainer time mixed with cartoons and gossip. Pretty heavy on the gossip the first day, pretty heavy on the pain every day after that.
We made it outside for lots of slipping, sliding, leaping, squishing - otherwise known as running in calf-deep fresh snow. My ankles were sore for days.
The tiny part of our weekend not spent training was spent eating and sleeping (no pictures of the sleeping because I'm not a weirdo who photographs you in the night).
Training is essentially the same as it's been for a while now, easy stuff here, hard stuff here, long stuff here, more easy stuff here. What's different is what is going on between my ears. I spend less time worrying, fussing, procrastinating. There is less anxiety about the things I need to get done; instead there is just dead space. I'm not fully there yet - there are still mornings when I dick around and check Twitter an extra ten times before getting on the bike - but there's a lot more get up and go happening this year than last.
And outside of training, there is more living. There are less conversations about what my pace was at MAF today and there are more conversations about what color should we paint the dining room and where should we go on vacation if we ever decide to/can afford to fly somewhere not associated with a race. It's almost ironic to me, when I think about it. Five years ago I needed to eat less pizza and do less staying up until 2am reading and drink less beer and do more worrying about eating the right things like maybe a vegetable every couple of weeks and getting in exercise and sleeping enough and at the right time. I won't say that the life I'm living now needs the opposite of all of those things, but part of finding balance for me is not having an on/off switch for a healthy lifestyle (please refer to last October through December for the "off" part of the switch). Instead, it's being able to moderate on a daily basis. Last week I had a great MAF test. I ate way too many Peeps, I completely didn't even see a box of sit-ups on one day of my schedule until three minutes ago, I ate an entire bag of snap peas in one sitting. I got at least eight hours of sleep every night, I drank two beers, the box said "easy spin" but what I did was "barely get sweaty pushing the pedals around while watching old Private Practice episodes," one night I had granola and whipped cream for dinner, every single day I got in at least 6-8 servings of fruits and veggies. I feel like quoting a different part of my favorite Al Pacino speech, where he says, "That's football, guys. That's all it is." That's my life, guys, my actual day-in-day-out life. That's all it is. And I think I'm doing okay.