Monday, December 24, 2007

Day One

Today is Day One. It is not yet New Year’s day, and I am not making any resolutions. I’ve come not to believe in them because I seldom see them through. Even so, today is Day One.

Today is the beginning. This is the first day of the 25 week Ironman training plan for Ironman Coeur d'Alene, the first week of which is in the sidebar. Day One, Week One, which will already have to be modified to fit around family and Christmas in the way that training always must be modified.

For the pessimist, beginning is a fearful thing. One looks at the goal and only sees all the effort involved and all the opportunities for discipline to flag and for the wheels to fall off en route. Such a person, me in my darker moments, has no use for beginning with grand resolutions. Most such grand designs die from neglect by mid January. Just thinking of all the hours and pain and effort between now and the finish line, I am sometimes unsure whether it is worth it. At other times, I know beyond any doubt that it is.

For the optimist, there is a love for all beginnings. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The “journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The optimistic sloganeer, me in my sunnier moments, holds resolute fingers in the air and even pounds a table or two, resolving that this time things will be different. This time bootstraps will be pulled up and all will be changed. Heady stuff to drink deeply of imaginary finish lines, especially without the sobriety inherent in counting the cost of all that it takes to get there.

I have enjoyed these past weeks of not logging workouts and treating my training time like uncharted play. With no goal, there is no risk of failure, yet no opportunity for success either. I guess a certain part of me needs an Ironman plan or an “A race” to put all the rest of life in some kind of order. It helps put my manic optimist and my depressive pessimist into balance. The optimist gets his grand resolution, but the grand sum of Ironman is made up of many smaller, daily choices that are much less grand and much more mundane.

Ironman is honest, almost brutally so. You can desire the finishing chute with every fiber of your being, but grand resolutions won’t get it done. You have to assemble all the smaller skills. You’ve got to swim. You’ve got to bike. You’ve got to run. You have to assemble the volume, bit by bit over a period of long months. You have to work. You have to rest. You have to eat.. You can’t cheat the training. Either train adequately or you will suffer the consequences. You can’t procrastinate. Either lay the base early or you will have no foundation on which to rely. You can’t cram. Either build the volume gradually or your body will betray you.

People who don’t do Ironman look at this and shake their heads in admiration (or pity), but if they only knew, they might admire quite a bit less than they do. Sure, there is some “iron will” in getting all this done. But when the “iron will” fails, there is also a cold, unrelenting fear of failure to get one out the door. All you have in your control is what you’re supposed to do today. If you waste enough of your todays, your dream dies a slow death. As if you could waste time and not injure eternity. (Thoreau).

What beginning is calling out for you? What small, mundane choice must be made today? It’s exciting, uncomfortable, scary, wonderful, awful. But, it is here. Day One. Let’s begin.


Speed Racer said...

How can you say you never follow through on resolutions? I quote, "new friends, old friends, a marathon, three half-iron triathlons, an MS150, the triple bypass, and my very first Ironman" in one year. It takes resolution to get through those. It takes resolution right from day one (whether that be Jan 1, Dec 23, or any other day) when you decide to make the dream into reality, you design a program, and you sign up for the race.

And your inner optimist is not much better with the "today is the first day of the rest of your life" b-s. You've worked darned hard to get to the point in the road where you are now. The rest of your life has already begun, you've got a good thing going, keep it up! Don't sell your achievements short.

Good luck with your training. I think it's going to be a great year.

Spokane Al said...

Well said. It is that training, day after day and week after week when no one is watching that will see us through at IM CDA 08.

See you there!

Taconite Boy said...

Fear/amused at stupidity usually gets Tac out the door for these events :)

Merry Christmas to you and your family (who's now well wirelessly connected)

Trisaratops said...

Great post, Dogg!

Here's to a happy, healthy, Iron-'08. And for me, Half-Iron '08.

Merry Christmas!

21stCenturyMom said...

"You can't cram" is going to be my mantra this year. I tried cramming if that, all last year and was chronically disappointed in my performance. Well no more Ms. Nice Guy this year!! This year I'm working it! Thanks for the reminder.

Merry Christmas to the Greyhound household.

Fe-lady said...

Hey, today was my first day too! Actually I tweaked the schedule to fit in a 1/2 marathon on a week that only has 7:30 hours of training... so really last week was my 9:30 week and this will be 10:30 hopefully...a lengthy strenuous hike in the A.M. is going down as my 30 min of running...hey nothing wrong with tweaking things, right?
What plan are you following?
I am "doing" Gayle Bernhardt's plan (I probably butchered her name...)
I am cutting back on the total hours of strength training and swimming and applying them to cycling and running instead!
I never figured myself as an optimist, but more of a realist- but I can't WAIT to get to the meat and potatoes of the plan! Merry Christmas and I am sure we will be comparing notes along the way!
See you soon! (Hey, June 22nd will be soon-mark my words!)

Mike said...

Great post! ... note to self - this needs to be bookmarked to be looked back at during my training :) ... I also like the line 'you can't cram' ... I look forward to following your progress.

CoachLiz said...

do the homework and be a student of the sport and you cannot fail. Take time to review nutrition, stretching, recovery, transitions, hydration, and you will be prepared for the challenging moments and "pop quiz" moments that are bound to come up,
Don't just talk the talk, but walk the walk with the support of family and friends and your 25 weeks will be ones of productivity rather than procrastination.

Good on ya Grey

Steve Stenzel said...

Good luck!

Merry Christmas!! - From the Speedo/Pharmie household.

pinkgurugal said...

if i could write half as well as you i think i may have expressed the same thing. wow... it's on.. again. nicely put.

Andra Sue said...

That's one of my very favorite Thoreau quotes. Great post! Merry Christmas and happy training! :)

Tarabay said...

He shoots, he scores and with such elegance!!!!!

monica said...


...and then i'll get back to the weights and the base tomorrow!!!

about 3 weeks into base myself right now and feeling the benefits and milestones already. so true, no way you can cram for this thing. slow and steady, building up the base to then lay the foundation to a build, then peak, then get it done the best you can with what you've built along the way. of course there's some missed workouts, some rearranged days to make room for essential family/friend commitments, but it's so true, i need an "a race" to put all the drive towards which then keeps me disciplined to put the rest of life in order.

but today is christmas, so today i drink to that. back to the grind tomorrow....

TriBoomer a.k.a. Brian said...

"Dream big. Go long. Exceed. Excel." I have no doubt this is what what you will accomplish in 2008.

No. Doubt.

Stay tuned...

Bigun said...

ooooh, nice graph at the link! It's on-eth!

Supalinds said...

Thank you for the fantastic post.

SWTrigal said...

Rock on.. IMCDA here we come! I am officially starting with week 20.