This year is like a small child, young and feisty, keeping me on my toes constantly. Last year was like a senior citizen, consistent, and predictable (and there were even a few moments that required Depends). As a result, I've had to constantly balance and juggle priorities, which has meant skimping on the blog lately. Two business trips, wedding planning and Ironman training will do that to a guy. I thought about my failing juggling act while in the recovery phase of my 73-mile bike ride with Frank today through the Conejo Valley. Keep in mind the "recovery" was approximately half the ride after climbing 900 vertical feet in just under four miles. As you'll see in the embedded Garmin workout report (which includes post-ride run data), I kinda overdid it with my heartrate, which skyrocketed to 178 bpm and left me blasting out primal yells to psyche myself up and keep from getting off the bike and walking. The grade, according to Frank, was 23% at one point on the climb.
When I wasn't coaxing my legs not to cramp over the remaining few hours of the ride, I was analyzing my performance on this very hill compared to less than a year ago, when I recall scooting up like a gazelle and onward with my workout. I was also reminded of "last year" by today's Firecracker 10k run in Chinatown, which I didn't attend. Last year, it served as a pivotal moment in my training, the last big run before tapering for the LA Marathon. This year, I would have been in no condition to run the race at all.
Which led me to an observation that hopefully may serve as a pithy reminder for all of us struggling with "last year":
Where you were isn't where you're at.
It seems so simple, but yet it was powerful enough for me to let go of "last year" on the spot. I can't keep comparing myself to the past. I'm a different athlete. With different priorities, different schedules, and a different life.
Though I slogged home mired in the small chain and managed to eke out a run at the goal zone 1 pace, I felt lighter. I'm no longer bearing the burden of meeting unrealistic expectations for myself based on last year. This season is already so much different anyway. Surprisingly, it's actually more mental than physical. Last year was all about "Can I?" This year, it's about, "How will I?" There's a big difference. The first implies doubt or uncertainty about reaching the finish. The second implies devising a new plan to reach an achievable goal. That's what it's all about now: goal planning. Smarter, not harder. Efficiency. Calmness. Confidence. Even when injury, inconvenience and illness rear their monstrous heads at the worst possible times.
So, the next time you worry about where you're at compared to where you were, stop. It's a false comparison. Where your'e at is where you're at. Plain and simple. The past won't make you faster. Or stronger.
But it can make us all wiser.
128 days and counting.