Thursday, August 14, 2014

Training Talk: Mirrors

Descartes almost had it right.  He should have said: I hurt therefore I am.  While I may not always be guilty of thinking (the "cogito" part of the equation), when I head out to the garage for a workout, the hurt part is guaranteed.  Indeed, I'll say to Jodi as I walk down the hall to our hurtatorium, "I'm heading into the garage to hurt myself."  I'm never disappointed, except, sometimes, in my performance.  Today was a somewhat "heavy gravity" day, one of those outings where there's a little kryptonite nearby, invisible gremlins dangling from your ankles, last night's beer loitering in your motivation.  Whatever.  From the first pullup, you know in your bones that gravity has it in for you, so you fight.  That's essence of it, fighting, pushing back against laziness, the couch, the Ben and Jerry's whispering from the freezer.

I am no superstar.  I will not run ultra marathons, complete back-to-back Iron Man's (Iron Men?), or swim the Bering Sea.  I guess I'm a pretty average, middle-aged enthusiast, a nut job doing his best to hang on to some strength and have a few more adventures before the armies of walkers, wheelchairs, and adult diapers drag me kicking and screaming away from adventure as I envision it--at least these days.  Who knows, perhaps one day my greatest adventure will be crossing the street, fighting then against a few more decades of wear and tear and the impending end.  But I'm not there yet, and the walkers will have to slug it out for this flesh.  I'm going down swinging.

The photo above features in the foreground a pair of Metolius Rock Rings, a set of sculpted holds for hanging and pullup exercises.  On the wall is an old sign from when my father had his own gun shop in L.A. back in the early 60's.  He was a Renaissance man in the "good old boy" school, equally adept at Shakespeare and muzzle loaders.  I miss him every day.  I don't do much shooting these days, not for decades, really, but I've still got guns that need tending, and so my dad's sign has taken on a new meaning as I struggle to stay in shape, maybe progress a little, tackle a few hard climbs--hard for me, that is.  Chris Sharma has nothing to worry about.

But I ponder often the internal struggle I go through to face up to another workout, to step up to a hard climb, to start out on a difficult mountain pass on a heavy bike, to set off on a three month ride with no idea how it's going to turn out.  So often there is this huge inertia that holds us back.  At its worst, we reach for the beer instead of the bike, when it's not so bad, we shake it off and do the best we can.  In each instance, we face a mirror, something, a goal, a pullup bar, a hill, a vertical cliff that throws us back on ourselves, showing us who we are, what we're made of.  Mirror, mirror of the wall, who's the weakest of them all?  NO!  Not me!  I can do this.  Can't I?  Maybe not.  This shade is comfortable.  The cooler is full back at camp.  I don't need to do this, do I?  But look at that crack.  It's taunting you, begging you to try.  That mountain pass is mocking you, daring you to clip in and start pedaling.  

The least we can do is try.  What or who looks back at us from that mirror may not be the superstar we imagine, but we can hold our heads up if we simply go after it, day after day.  The cliche is a cliche because it's true:  It's not the destination, it's the journey.  Each workout, each ride, each climb is another chance to cross the threshold of our own uncertainty and try.  Who knows, you might make it.

A one gun salute to all who try:

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