Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Just" an Enthusiast?

Second week in a row of recovery from the big early June push. Loooong story short, I got greedy.

I thought I was still coming back from the missed months of training (due to illness and injury this winter) but I surprised myself with my good progress. Did two unexpectedly big rides; got psyched. Did a really epic ride. Felt good. Hey! I must have had some kind of miracle healing! Let’s go do some intervals and yet more killer hills! Yeah… that’s about the time I burned out. And the nagging ache in my knees became real pain. Not sure when I’ll be 100% again.

Yet, I’m not as discouraged as I’ve been in the past.

The 20 months since I’ve gotten back into cycling have been characterized by this yo-yo pattern. I ride too hard; I start to feel bad; I ease off and loudly commit to more reasonable ways; start to feel better, ride too hard; feel bad. Rinse & repeat.

So this week, I’ve done some navel-gazing in an attempt to get my hands on the psychological crossed wire that’s causing this self-destructive behavior. Turns out it’s the same pattern I’ve lived out in other parts of my life. When I was in college, having taught myself guitar for a total of two years, I decided I was going to be a “serious” jazz guitarist. Like, for a living. I talked the dean of the highly respected conservatory connected to my school into giving me a locker for my instrument and signing me up for theory classes, jazz improv classes, and, most laughable of all, a small combo seminar. I had no business being in that audition room, and the instructor told me so in no uncertain terms. Didn’t stop me, of course.

Since I was a kid, I couldn’t love doing something without trying to be a hotshot at it. It was never okay to be just okay. To do something just because I liked doing it. To be mediocre, just another enthusiast, a hacker, a duffer. I've missed out on a lot of healthy enjoyment because of this.

There are some first causes for it, events and relationships in my childhood, but this isn’t People magazine, and you don’t come here for tell-all confessions. Suffice it to say I’m 45 now, and it’s time to take yet one more step in that life-long process we call growing up. Basically, to accept that my body has limits. That it’s genetically destined for only a teaspoon of athletic talent. That it’s getting older (and I’m getting busier) and it won’t let me go off and act like a hero for a while without long-term repercussions. Most importantly, it’s time to find a way to ride within myself – something I’ve been writing about since the day I started this blog.

Shoot, staying within myself is something I’ve been trying to learn since I was old enough to think. Here’s to another step: Enjoying my time on the bike for what it is. Being neither hero nor zero, but rather that thing I just could not swallow before: One more enthusiast. I think allowing myself that luxury will open up a world of cycling enjoyment I haven't even touched yet.

As always, I'll keep you posted.

2 comments:

Suitcase of Courage said...

"Since I was a kid, I couldn’t love doing something without trying to be a hotshot at it. It was never okay to be just okay. To do something just because I liked doing it. To be mediocre, just another enthusiast, a hacker, a duffer. I've missed out on a lot of healthy enjoyment because of this."

This is **SO** me - esp. with racing. I wish I'd wrote it, but enjoyed reading your take on it. As you can tell, it really resonated with me.

Velosopher said...

SoC, I'm always so glad when things I write resonate with readers. It's why I do this.

Especially glad for it when, after posting them, I feel like I might have been a little too honest...