Monday, May 16, 2011

Painful Perspective

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As if I didn't have enough things on my plate this past week and weekend, three months ago I signed up for the state's largest triathlon, and one of the largest female-only triathlons in the country—due to take place on Sunday.

My first triathlon since the summer after my senior year in high school, I have spent the last three months trying to find time to swim laps at the local pools, bike both inside and out, and squeeze in a run now and then. The training had been going pretty well until these past two weeks.

When forced to choose between sanity, sleep and training, training lost every time. Come yesterday afternoon when a 500 yard swim and an almost fourteen mile bike transitioned into a 5k run, I was feeling my lack of energy. My stomach cramped, my back ached, and mid-way through the run I was dry heaving. Eventually, I finished. It was a few minutes slower than my goal, but at the end of the day I was sure that it was all I had in the tank this time around.

Perhaps coaching, teaching, and just trying to maintain relationships took its toll on my athletic aspirations; when it comes to priorities in life right now, this just wasn’t it.

Looking back, the years that mark the difference between my first and second triathlon are significant. When I did the last one I was marking the months before starting my college running career. Athletics were very important to me, and perhaps I defined myself a bit too much by my accomplishments in that area. Sacrificing training and competition for anything wasn’t a decision I considered very often—if at all.

Personal goals are perhaps one of the easiest ways to trace priorities over time. They tend to be objective and measurable by nature, allowing the observer to consider what was the focus of energy—and what, by default was not. There is no question that what I value in 2011 is different than what I valued in high school. Though the changes are sometimes slight, they can come glaring to the surface at unexpected moments when I realize that a decision made would have played out differently not so long ago. And in that way perspective that comes with age can be welcome, even when it means that the task hurt that much more in the process.

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