The peak of my work year is behind me, and the world seems calmer. San Diego is putting on its autumn clothes—crisp and clear in the mornings and evenings, but with enough warmth mid-day to fool me from thinking fall has really arrived. A small handful of rebel trees change color among the green succulents and palms. As the triathlon race season draws to close, things slow down and shift, making way for the new and different.
Kona-ing » This year was my fifth year on Hawaii’s Big Island for the Ironman World Championship, where I help create digital content (AKA tell stories) all week. This year it felt more like home than ever. More subdued, more familiar. When work gave me a break I splashed around in the ocean a few times and ran, never more than 30 minutes, and celebrated the successes of bad-ass friends like Hailey, teammates Julie, Les, Amy, and Gina, and other inspiring athletes I get the privilege of meeting all year.
This year I finally got out of Kailua-Kona, and headed up to the dormant volcano, Mauna Kea, with its collection of observatories. I ate delicious poke at every turn, and had coffee at Daylight Mind, my favorite Sunday morning ritual. All in all, it was a successful year.
Climbing » My first Southern Californian peak. When I was 25 I lived in the Rocky Mountains for a summer, and checked off 24 peaks in Banff National Park. I became a passable scrambler-hiker in the process. But then … triathlon.
On Sunday, Marit, Charisa and I put the advice of this article (“Why Women Need to go to the Mountains with Other Women“) in action. We set out for Idyllwild at 6 a.m. with Mount San Jacinto in our sights. No pace or distance goals. Just the top. It was a beautiful day, with refreshing views and conversation. As Marit says, the mountains heal. The 11,000 feet of altitude, however, wrecked havoc with us sea-level dwelling triathletes, which left Mountain-Mama Marit to babysit us and soothe our silly insecurities with encouraging words.
Experimenting » with my diet. Again. After nary a vegetable crossed my plate during my week in Kona, a friend and I came up with a little 30-day challenge of our own. We nicknamed our “diet” AlCaDaGS, after the off-limit items alcohol, caffeine, dairy, gluten, and sugar. Our aim is to consume foods as close to their natural state as possible. Veggies and fruit, whole grains (I know some have gluten, we’re just avoiding the processed stuff), and meats/seafood are all in. My daily nightcaps are out. Popcorn, thank God, is in.
I have nothing against the aforementioned foods in moderation. I’m merely experimenting, as with my Botox injection. I want to do everything I can to fix my body right, and eliminating some of the main culprits seems like a good idea, however unscientific my execution. Secondly, without the daily escape and endorphin rush of training, the disappointments and frustrations of life have grown heavier. I felt the need to control something, and food seemed like a safe place to start—slippery slope, I know. (After a friend warned me she was soon going to nickname me Eeyore, I re-introduced coffee, which I now firmly believe should be re-named “liquid happiness.”)
I’ve been on my little plan for one week now, filling up on eggs, beets, fish, salads, and spaghetti squash. I feel healthier, lighter, and am less in fear of the weight gain associated with not training 15 hours a week anymore. Of course I miss beer, but am enjoying the satisfaction of cracking habits and dependences.
Deciding » on Ironman Arizona. I don’t know how you can be on the fence about an Ironman three weeks out, but I’m there. Training right now is unsatisfying 30-minute swims and runs, and life-affirming rides (which seldom cause problems). I am trying to be grateful that I can still move, but as a wise friend said yesterday, “no matter what your situation, there is always something worse. You’re allowed to be bummed.” In a world of TED Talks on gratitude and #blessed hashtags and so many books on happiness, sometimes you have to be reminded that sadness is OK.
There have been a few surprise training sessions (like last Saturday’s 5-hour ‘pie ride’ with the girls and 20 minute belch-free run) but just as many days where the off season calls to me like an eagle’s cry echoing in a valley: Books! Movies! Yoga! If I do race on November 16th, the whole thing will be very last-minute. (Can you hitchhike from San Diego to Tempe with a bike? Do hostels take triathletes?) It would be one more “for the books,” one more towards a Kona Legacy slot, one more for the experience of “racing like you just don’t care”—which I will also practice this Sunday at Life Time Tri Oceanside. Here’s to going short…
Sleeping » a lot. More than usual. Oh well.