Sunday, November 3, 2013

An Invincible Summer

“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

I have a little spreadsheet that counts days; days till, days from. Days since I quit drinking: 2,857. Days to my next birthday: 132. I also use to it to count down the days until an upcoming race: an Ironman, a Death Valley Century, or some other athletic event. This week, for the first time ever, it has nothing to count down to.
The 2013 cycling and running year is basically over for me. The training tires are mounted on the bikes and the bikes themselves are mounted on their trainers. I have begun my indoor spinning (a session with Coach Troy today left me feeling as If I had just finished a Tour de France stage—without the benefit of performance enhancing drugs).

All I have left to remind me of the past year are some heavy medals, photos, and a still-discoloured toe from the marathon two weeks ago. And memories of sunsets in Death Valley.

It’s time to start planning what I want to do next year. For the first time since the 1980s, I don’t have the financial resources to do everything I'd like, so I will have to be more creative and selective about where I go and what I do. For the time being, there will be no trips to Ironman, no week-long stays at the Furnace Creek Ranch, no Races Across America.

I also have no idea what my body has planned for me down the road, in spite of whatever plans I might want to make. There have been some physical challenges this past season that suggest I should stop and figure out what to do about some things. To paraphrase Socrates, the unexamined body is probably not worth having.
I might never figure out what happened to me in the middle of the lake at Mont Tremblant that caused me to come staggering out of the water like a drunken sailor and wilt at the side of the path. It was a physical and emotional meltdown that still confounds me. All my other swims were fine this year; that day, something was out to get me.

So next year will be a time of keeping fit and nurturing a vision of greater things to come; a year of looking critically and realistically at my sexagenarian body to see what it is still capable of. I want to believe I am not finished with Ironman, or deserts, or epic bike tours. I still want to run a hundred miles, pedal my up bike to Dante’s View, or across Canada from St John’s to Victoria. I still want to break four hours for the marathon; I want to finish another Ironman before dark as I did once.
Hold That Thought
Meantime as Wordsworth suggests, I will be resting and being thankful. Next year if my muscles and feet and all the rest of the parts agree, I’ll do some local triathlons and road races. I will run some new trails and bicycle some new roads. The dream venues will remain dreams for a while. But there will be dreams—there are always dreams—even if for the moment, their glow is softened by a dusting of snow.