Sunday, August 13, 2006

When the body says no

I've been meaning to write about my last triathlon of the season (Sri Chinmoy/Self Transcendence depending on who you ask) that I was in last Sunday but have been having a hard time finding the words. It's not that I have any shortage of ideas, it's just that I've been wrestling with some difficult questions that I still don't have answers to. The race was a lot more challenging than I'd expected and even though I finished, it beat me.

After the race, a friend of mine asked me (twice) how the bike section went. Both times I answered "fine" but I had to inquire on why he kept asking.

"You weren't smiling when I saw you. You always smile on the bike."

I guess I wasn't this time. Actually, I was in a world of pain but didn't realize anyone else could see it. I was so focussed on pushing through that I didn't realize how big a toll it was taking on me. I had thought that it was just lack of nutrition that caused me to bonk on the run (for the first time ever) but that's the easy way out. Sure it was a factor but it shouldn't have stopped me dead in my tracks like that. I've never had to dig so deep in a race just to keep moving (not even in the 1/2 iron!)

The reality is, my back's been tight for a while and even though it's been cause of my sore knees and various leg pains, I've only been treating the symtoms. I suppose it eventually had enough and decided to slam on the brakes... hard. Since the race, I have trouble getting in and out of cars. Running is out of the question.

I've started to read a book (that shares it's name with this blog entry) in which the author's hypothesis is that we can ignore our bodies for so long but eventually, through illness or fatigue, they'll force us to listen.

Mine seems to be telling me to stop. So what does that mean for the October marathon? Would the attempt to complete it do more bodily harm than psychological good? Why do I continue to vacillate between apathy and exhilleration when thinking about the marathon? I'd gladly welcome the rest but I really want to do the marathon and think it would help me to have one under my belt. Do I need to give into the age old rivalry of "the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit" or is there a way to bring the two into harmony?

That, I suppose, is my grail quest.

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.

~ E. B. White