Sunday, August 25, 2002

Back from a moviefest with Ang and a couple friends tonight. The lineup? The Sum of All Fears which was absolutely AMAZING and Scooby Doo which was, well.... less so.

As I was out running yesterday night, I was really kind of thinking about why I'm doing this. Why am I doing the Ironman and is it for the right reasons? Unrequited love is a powerful thing. It can be a hard thing to get over, and even after you meet the most amazing person in the world, who changes everything about you for the better, there are those nagging things that you want revenge over. Part of Ironman at first for me was to shove athleticism down the throat of the girl that told me I would never be an athlete. I thought, what could be the most extreme thing I could ever do that would prove once and for all that I won't live up to that comment. That, as much as anything else was fuel.

I came to the realization though, and brought it up to myself again just now, that those words wouldn't even be in her mind anymore. She spoke them without even thinking and they floated off into the distance. She could have no idea how they scarred me. I've already proven to myself that I can be athletic, and Angela has been really supportive in letting me know what I am in her eyes. That itself means more than I could even say. Still, that wound is there. I pray it'll go away. In fact, until yesterday on my run, I was assuming it had gone away. I thought about elementary school and David Wilke's 7 minute mile... being so envious of his speed. I thought about the years of taunting and teasing, crater face, fatboy and I ran from that.

Y'know, maybe what I'm aiming for in Ironman is just sheer running away from my past. But maybe it's not entirely running away from my past. Maybe it's putting a seal on it. That putting myself in that situation and burning off that chaff and struggling through that event is going to put an endcap on it. Finish it off for good.
Music as catharthis in one event, running as catharthis in the next event. It's not that never the twain shall meet, it's that they rely on each other and propel me to finish this thing. We'll see how it goes.
Billie Holiday on the radio, my sluggish heart is beating seven beats too slow
another sad song and another shot of blue, cold and unconcerned are anything but new.
He said “Love endures all things”, and it hurts to think He’s right.
If I mark the span of failure, is his burden just as light?
from Spartan by Five Iron Frenzy

Before I was ever an athlete, I was music-obsessed. I think that that could be the easiest way to put it. Music has always been one of those things that held infinitely different meaning for me than it did to most of my friends (well, actually make that acquaintences. During high school, it often wasn't much more than that) I dove into the music and let it envelop me. To a food connoiseur, relishing in a dish from a restaraunt with all of the flavors mesmerizing your mouth is often as close to nirvana as they can get. For me, music was similar, but it went a step further. In the movie Strange Days, the conscious reality experiences of people are recorded onto chips that people can play back, rexperiencing things that happened to them or to other people in the past. It's kind of the ultimate drug, and at one point the drug dealer gives a paraplegic a chip that features a guy running down a beach with the water gently lapping over his feet. Sand caking on his feet and calves. It was a joyous moment for this paralyzed guy to experience that. Music in ways does the same thing for me.

What we arrive at is music as Catharsis. A song encapsulates emotions, images, hopes, fears, dreams, desires... it's all there, and listening to it brings everything encapsulated in it to the front. I can still remember listening to REM's Out of Time as I rode across the Nebraska plains the summer of my 8th grade year on a West Coast choir trip. All of the hurt at being a bit of an outcast and beauty of the wheat fields flying past the bus window can fly forward through that music.

As I drove down to Winona a couple of weeks ago, I had the new Five Iron Frenzy album as I drove through the darkness and I stumbled upon this Spartan song. When I heard it, I knew there was somethine special and that I needed to go back and listen to it again.

When I'm in the depths of a bike ride the thing that often keeps me going is just a riff or a chorus or just a little bit of lyric. It doesn't have to be much, but it's something that I end up meditating on using to channel my efforts. Sports Psychology for Cyclists by Dr. Saul Miller and Peggy Maass Hill kind of reinforces that. One of the concepts they really hammer in is that your mind is a TV set...

"The first idea or principle is that hte mind is like a TV set. You control the switch on that mental TV. You are in charge. If what you're watching doesn't give you power or pleaure, change the channel... if what you put on your mental TV causes you to feel tense, anxious or depressed, then staying tuned in to those thoughts and feeling will generate a greater sense of negativity and diesease - and gives you more things to worry about in your life.
In contrast, if what you focus on is something that inspires you and gives you energy, you are more likely to create success and enjoyment in life. So, it's important that we tune into positive "power" programs on the TV."

Great, so what does it mean to me? These songs, these snippets, these guitar riffs, these lyrics are my programs. Plug them in, turn them on and they give me energy.

The angels are singing over the plains/
the shepherds are quaking, echoing refrains/
And all of our slogans designed to take away the pain/
meant nothing to the Son of God that night in Bethlehem/

I have a feeling this bridge from the same Five Iron Frenzy will be playing as I'm in the middle of my cycling portion. I'm really going to focus on trying to conceptualize myself being part of something bigger.

In my head, this will be the program playing during the cycling portion.

I have this concept of angels around me putting me in a drafting bubble. I'm here, but I'm a force. I'm being pushed along and pain is not part of the picture. It's there, but it doesn't affect me. Breathing in and out, I feel the pain lifting up out of me. The sun beats down, but it only reminds me that God is up above and he's bigger than anything I could ever do on my own. I'm a wind now, and I'm chasing after the other riders. The wind can't be seen, but can be felt. I feel the invisible wind pulling me along with it and I'm telling myself that it's exhilirating.

Limping through the world/
there’s a knowing look or two/
is it just the cripples here/
who understand the truth?/

I'll be crippled during the run I'm sure. Feeling my sodden, tired legs underneath me, I push on. Walking, jogging, crawling.

I am, Spartan, close my heart so tight.
Jesus, Save me, from myself tonight.

I keep coming back to what Elizabeth Johnson wrote in Becoming and Ironman , "One of the things an athlete must do before attempting an ironman is to strengthen the body core. This won't take a membership to a gym. You can't get it in the weight room. I'm talking body core. You've got to get right with God because you're going to pray out there."

Jesus save me! What did I get myself into thinking that I could finish something that is so far above and beyond me! That will be my prayer I think. That song chorus running around my head.

I don't want to be preachy. The reason I write what I do is because it's a part of who I am. I think that Ironman or anything extreme burns you down to exactly who you are, and I think that that's what I'm looking for when I'm out there. I want to be burned down to my basics because it will show me who I am. I want to see what's left at the end of the day. I want the process. I want the pain, I want the joy.

I don't know what the other songs that play back in my head during Ironman will be. I'm still really thinking about it and trying to choose wisely because I think they mean a lot.

heading to Madison and Winona the past couple of weeks was the tempering process. I think that I'm psychologically prepared for what I need to do now. What comes next is just the finishing physical preperation.

Cycling goes well. I have my bike back and am putting miles on it. Stu at Rice St. Bike restrung my rear wheel with DP spokes instead of the Ritchey aero spokes I was using and it's helped a LOT. Brian doesn't want ANY more broken spokes. I was supposed to do a century this morning, but it didn't happen. My body, I've found HAS to have 10 hours of sleep. When it doesn't get it, it won't respond... or will incapacitate me until I get 10 hours of sleep. I'm heading to the lake in a few minutes to do a swim instead. I think I'll end up doing a side stroke during Ironman, so I want to go practice doing a sidestroke continuously for an hour and a half which is what I'm thinking the swim portion will take.

More once I get back from the afternoon swim.