Doing it all the hard way...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Training Update Middle Age Reality

Back when "Windows" didn't refer to an operating system
I enjoy cycling and running for pleasure.  At certain times of year those activities take on a different face as part of an integrated training plan. This is one of those times of year and some recent training experiences have highlighted the commonalities and well as the differences between my training now compared to my training in high school and college.

As I was riding into the sun the other evening two things happened. First my vision was impaired ever so slightly by hair in my eye reflecting the sunlight.  This was just like in high school when my long hair would hang down and get in front of my eyes.  A notable difference was that the hair that was glinting in the sunlight on this particular evening was hanging down from my eyebrow and not from the top of my head where (by the way) my hair is engaged in a turf war with my forehead.

The second thing that was the clear was the feeling that summer was ending soon which made me excited.  The sun was still high above the horizon and the temperatures were such that I was glad to have skipped a base layer under my short sleeved jersey.  I cannot tell you why the warmth and sunshine communicated to my head that summer was drawing to a close but I can tell you that the feeling was absolute.

Back in my teens and early twenties the end of summer was exciting because it was the culmination of a long summer of hundred mile weeks.  After paying my dues for three months I was typically hungry to get racing. These days the sport is Cyclocross and I look forward to the challenge of racing and the camaraderie of cheering others and being cheered by my team. 

The start of the school year brings an energy that is palpable on a college campus. The winding down of summer is not unlike the last day of a vacation.  You have enjoyed the fun and are almost ready to get back to work.  For me, that is the feeling of September.
Long shadows....
My stair workout a couple weeks ago made my legs hurt more than they have in my entire life.  Because with age inevitably comes compromise and adaptation to avoid exactly this kind of discomfort, in a sick way I welcomed the hurt as a sign I was still young or dumb or at least still willing and able to work hard.  

I have seen enough that I can connect the dots and know that the right hard work always pays off later.  That experience gives me the patience to put in the work now and wait to see the results later.  In a world where we can get answers in a nanosecond the ability to wait for results is harder and harder to come by.

My current training doesn’t fit neatly into bicycle commutes to work or gym sessions before work.  Consequently it cuts into our usual meal time and inconveniences Hottie.  She has been supportive, however, she did ask when my season ends (the last MFG race is November 9th) and I couldn’t see if her teeth were clenched.

I used to think having sore legs or a tight low back was a reminder that I was working hard.  With injuries and vacations that resulted in extended periods where I didn’t work out, I have found I am sore regardless of my activity level.  My personal experience tells me working out makes me stronger and reduces some of the aches and pains.

Just like when I was seventeen I am cutting the grass at the house where I live. Just like when I was seventeen I am working out hard.  When I topped out at the top of the 188 stairs I slumped forward and put my hands on my knees and fought for oxygen.  In the seventies and eighties I had a training plan taped up in my closet. Now my training plan is on my computer but the principle is the same.  It is a plan aimed at getting results.

In those ways I feel like I am seventeen again.  In other ways I feel like I am qualified to race cross in the 55 plus category.

Maybe there is an age where the "Raphafication" of photographs 
no longer makes you look badass.....
When I see my friends from my youth on Facebook they all seem much older than I think I am. When I see my grown children have children of their own it takes a moment or two for me to deduce that those little people are my grandchildren.  When we eat out, female servers call me “sir” and assume I am harmless compared to the loud young bucks at the next table.  I respectfully maintain that I am not harmless and without declaring myself the latest incarnation of Walter White, I do feel I am capable of both mischief and felonies.

Aside from National Championships I am now in the oldest racing category they offer in Cyclocross in these parts. When I hear a small voice call “Grandpa” I look to see if they are talking to me.  I may not be the fastest old guy, but I am enjoying this life.

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