finding my fight

There are 12 days left of my random, slapdash 30-day challenge. I’m starting to realize that my list was a classic instance of biting off more than one can chew, but hey, I have a big appetite.

The weekend marked the end of my (relatively) lazy, indulgent, mid-season break, about a month exactly after Vineman 70.3: Beers and brats at the Regal Seagull, a mellow 3.5 hour ride ending at Leucadia Donuts, the Markoff’s annual August summer soiree, and a trail run (that turned into a three hour hike/exploring a freaky, forest-fire damaged camp) out in Mount Laguna. Oh yeah, and new BRIGHT kitchen lighting courtesy of IKEA. I feel refreshed and ready to not just move, but to train again. My “why not?” approach to life is getting old, as I knew it would, and I’m ready to start putting in the work for Ironman Austin 70.3.

First up, a swim. I had packed my swim gear last night so was ready to go, one of the easiest and best tips for triathletes to actually get out the door. And though those 20 minutes of getting myself to the pool are not very enjoyable minutes, once I slip into the water and start churning out 200’s, I’m a better person for it. Plus, it makes that first sip of coffee so much more satisfying.

muay thai boxing class

Note the Zoot Tempo Trainers. Always the triathlete.

My second workout of the day will be spent not in a pool or on a trial, but at Encinitas Boxing and Fitness. I’ve been diligently fulfilling the “try a new sport” entry on my challenge list, thanks to a Groupon heads-up from a friend. Over the past few weeks the two of us have been practicing kicking and punching the crap out of each other. And this is no YMCA: we be punching real bags in a dark, dingy room with a tattooed instructor who looks like a pirate. Sometimes I pretend I’m a character in the Wire, under Cutty’s direction. Other times I’m just my usual triathlete self, theorizing about how all this lateral-motion cross training is going to help my swim-bike-run performance. (And next time you’re taking a month off, I highly recommend kick boxing.)

The style we’re learning is Muay Thai, or “free boxing.” Known as “the art of eight limbs,” it includes the  combined use of fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet. I am continually surprised at how much I enjoy the combination of concentration, coordination, stamina and strength it requires. I’d love to continue with it past my 10 class pass, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to squeeze it in with increased triathlon volume and yoga.

In the meantime, it’s helped me “find my fight” for triathlon training again. I have four more classes with Marshall–an instructor who always manages to both crack me up and elicit the necessary rage that fires me up enough to throw a proper jab-cross:

“Forget diamonds, elbows and knees are a girl’s best friend.”
“Chances are you can out run any manbut you have to fight him off first.”

And one from Muhammed Ali:

“Champions aren’t made in gyms, champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

I’m going to remember that one when it comes to getting up for morning Masters. Even if I’m swimming in the 1:40 lane again, the will is what counts.