Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day Sixty-Three of My Captivity...

It's been two months since Mooseman, when I ran three miles of the course before deciding that whatever was wrong with my foot could no longer be ignored.  It was another two weeks before I got an x-ray to confirm the fracture but I haven't run since I stopped at the medical tent just past mile three.  I'll be honest and say that I probably needed a break.  From the beginning of this I've tried to look at it from the perspective of me having been training hard since 2002 without ever taking a real break.  And I mean more than a couple of weeks.  So maybe this was just what I needed to be completely mentally and physically refreshed.  Admittedly I took a pretty significant break last fall, too, but the circumstances surrounding it didn't really make it feel like the refresher that I probably needed. 

So I've been doing a whole lot of not training.  The timing worked out that there have been some family events that might not have otherwise been enjoyed as much by me due to having to go to bed early to get up and train the next morning or being exhausted from another seven-hour workout day.  Also, for a while it was an exceptionally hot summer and I certainly didn't wish that I was out running when it was 98 degrees out.  Not to mention the fact that my laundry loads have diminished by approximately 300%. 

But, wow, am I ever sick of this!  I had another x-ray last week that showed that the bone had barely improved in the last three weeks.  I'd fully expected to be good to go by now.  And yet it continues.  You know, when your entire day is really built around whatever workouts you have to do it's like losing your identity when suddenly you can't really do anything.  The most annoying part is that it's one, stupid little bone that doesn't even really hurt that much.  And yet it has essentially ruined an entire season. 

So while not training all the time I instead have to get overly introspective and panicky about what the future holds when/if I finally do get to start training again.  I realized it has been two months since I last ran which is a new record for me since I started running regularly a little over ten years ago.  It took me five years from that starting point until I got to being a fairly decent runner for that very brief period of time in 2006.  I don't have another five years to wait, yet it feels as though I'm going to be starting from scratch again.  I get jealous now when I see people out running, though.  I don't even remember what it's like anymore to return from a run all tired and thirsty and sweaty. 

With the season pretty much shot I had one last race I wanted to do.  It's hardly anything, really.  A tiny sprint with no awards, mostly first-timers, one you can show up to like twenty minutes before the race and still be okay.  I can sleep in my own bed and ride my bike to it in less than fifteen minutes without breaking a sweat.  Old mountain bikes dusted off from the garage and baggy shorts are far more the norm than race wheels and aero helmets.  A quarter-mile swim, a twelve-mile bike and a two-and-a-half mile run and that's it. 

So why do I care?  It's not that it's easy and close by.  It's that it's the race my dad came to watch the morning before he went off and got into his bike accident.  He was there early and he zipped up my wetsuit for me before high-fiving me as I went off to get in the water.  He smiled at me anyway even though it capped off my worst ever triathlon season (until this one, I just keep on "improving"...)  We were even going to go to dinner that night to cap off Labor Day weekend.  It was my last real experience with him, although I did see him heading off on his ride later that afternoon.  So it makes me feel like I really need to do the race again.  Just recently the race organizers posted a bunch of pictures from last year on facebook and there was one of some spectators waiting for the bikes to come in.  And there was Dad, his eyes down the road, waiting longer than usual for me to come in. We can be pretty certain that that was the last picture ever taken of him.

It probably doesn't mean as much as I think it does, but I feel as though it might bring me some closure.  Sort of finish out the first, tough year after everything changed.  Now that it's August and we're closing in, I keep thinking back to the end of last summer, not knowing that those were the last few weeks I'd get to spend with my father.  I was quite lucky that I did spend that time at my parents' house on the lake. 

See, this is why I need to be out swimming, biking and running like crazy.  When I do that I'm far too tired to think about much of anything!