Last year I talked quite a bit about making my circles smaller, about the universe shaking people through the colander and leaving me with the larger pieces, the ones that matter. Relationships are never perfect, they wax and wane and need work, but I continue to learn that working on imperfect relationships is far better than tossing them all out the window and starting over. I've been thinking about that a lot recently, the value of old friendships, and I've been trying to focus more on nurturing the relationships I have instead of hitting the "follow" button on 200 new ones.Over the past month, I've been lucky enough to go and visit or be visited by some of the closest friends I have, and what a great reminder that the three-dimensional people in your life are so much more important than the flat people that live inside your computer screen.
And, without any big ridiculous declaration, I've been taking some tiny steps back. I've realized that my life is happier, richer, if I spent an hour walking my dogs instead of refreshing twitter. It's true that social media is a great resource for sharing information, but for every great article I read that gets the wheels turning up in the cobwebby attic of my brain, I have to wade through seven hundred tweets about what everyone had for lunch and who has road rage in rush hour traffic and I can't believe someone cut in front of me in line at the grocery store and then tried to pay with a check. It's been feeling overwhelming to me, lately, it's been feeling like too much information and so much loud distracting noise. Maybe I'm getting old.
I'm sure I will never stop posting pictures of my dogs and cycling selfies (you're welcome), and I certainly want to keep up with friends and their cracks about training and puppy pictures galore, but I also don't feel the need to read all 943 updates to Facebook that have happened since the last time I opened the bot thing on my phone. When someone texts me, I pick up the phone and call them, more often (and I hate the phone so this is a big forkin' deal). I've actually been doing the crazy FaceTime and Google video thing to talk to people with their faces instead of their printed words. And I've had some tough conversations with people in my life about our relationships, but no matter how afraid I was to start those conversations, the end result, I believe, is going to lead to a richer connection, a better hand held in hand.
January is about being gentle, about allowing fitness to grow back. One of the coaches I work with here in Boulder said last night at spin class, we test in January simply to reveal our current fitness. I really like that word, reveal. It's the time of year to cast an un-judgemental eye on where we are as athletes, what the off-season and the Christmas cookies and the many glasses of December holiday party wine have done to a triathlon season that seems so very far away (spoiler: it's not, it's right there). The numbers we're seeing now, those don't really matter, other than to tell us where we want to go. Those numbers don't tell me anything about how fast I will race in a month or two or six, or how many watts I'll put out climbing up a mountain in July. Those numbers are just me saying, to my body, hi. Hello. I hope you enjoyed all those candy cane jojo's, now let's start laying down some bricks again.
I'm enjoying being out of shape, it's not always easy to remember where my fitness was in November compared to now, but I believe that it's necessary for me, for my own success this year. In a twisted way, it's fun, I am doing a lot of laughing in training right now, good giggles at what the clock says when I bother to look at it and how high I can get my heart rate up on the bike. And being here, in the January shape that I am in, has made me less afraid of the testing, somehow a switch has flipped from the brain not liking fear over to let's just see what happens when we do this. Hanging onto this feeling as I get back into the swing of training, now, that will be a good trick if I can pull it off.
My biggest accomplishments in 2013 had nothing to do with races, but instead, the steady build, the ebb and flow of my training that brought me through a year strong, (mostly) healthy, and happy. Never burned out, never overtrained, but never shying away from work, I am lucky to have had a year like that in sport. One of the changes that feels big for 2014 was asking Sonja to map out a race schedule for me (around the there's an ironman that goes past my house so I signed up race that I picked out last summer), and she has put together a year that I am excited to tackle. I can't put my finger on it exactly, and I have yet to do the first race on the schedule (although I recently discovered it's coming up a lot more quickly than I thought, whoops), but handing over the race planning seems to have taken some of the stress out of racing for me, mentally. Another feeling that would be great to hang onto, this year, if I can swing it.
But for now, it's simply time to start again.