Thursday, September 18, 2008

Feelin Groovy

Recently I have been making semi-regular visits to the local Zen center. I've had an interest in Buddhism and mindfulness meditation for a few years, and just felt the time was right to move to the next level. I am continuing to work on 'being awake' in my regular activities, and i do some sitting in my office when i can steal 5 or 10 minutes. But actually sitting in a Zendo, incense burning, bells being rung, clappers being clapped, a jikki jitsu keeping time, sitting for 25 minutes without interruption, I found for myself anyway, has shown me significant results in just a few weeks.

I can relate this to the "Grease the Groove" concept, on which I am planning a subsequent post. Essentially greasing the groove is a physical training method based on the precept that "Specificity + frequent practice = success". Do a Google search and you'll find references to the Bulgarian Special Forces, pull ups, push ups and weight lifting. By focusing on a specific exercise using proper form, repeating it many times frequently over time, 'synaptic facilitation' strengthens the neural pathways associated with the exercise. Why wouldn’t the same concept apply to exercises of the mind?


This week I got an email from a friend,

asking me "How are you doing?"

Until that moment I hadn’t really given it much thought. Looking inside I quickly saw that things could be better. I have a half marathon coming this weekend, I scheduled this race a year ago planning to put up a personal record (1:48). I am not feeling it. My "A" race, the Montauk Half Ironman, is less than 3 weeks away and I am decidedly unexcited. I haven’t ridden my bike since the century on Labor Day. Shit, I haven’t even washed my bike since that ride. I haven’t run since a 14 mile run i did 10 days ago. Not even my easy 3 mile recovery, or some strides. I started Masters Swimming two Mondays ago, so I have swam twice, and this week the coach basically told me i suck. I suck bad. I feel like a slug.

At the zendo, the abbot keeps asking me the same question every time i go. How do I become my true self while looking at a stick he holds in his hand? Each time i go back I think i have the answer, but i never do. And one night this week I forgot the specific ritual that goes with meditation and teaching in the zendo, and got up and changed positions at completely the wrong time in the process. I feel stupid.

Dealing with some long standing family relationship issues, I feel “out of place” with little or no hope of getting to a good place. Ever.

My groinulars, which I pulled during the off season while doing my winter speed project, are bothering me again. My lower back is tight on the same side. My knee on that side gets sore on long rides. I feel an occasional tug on the heel, and my toes on the same side are stiff and crampy. I feel wounded.

Last night I went out for a short easy run, 3 miles at 10:20 pace. I felt fine. When I got home my wife was surprised I had gone out at all, expecting I would be resting. She asked me how I was feeling about my final races. I told her, eh, wasn’t too excited, but feeling confident. She wondered if perhaps I had done too much this season. Good question, but I don’t think so. I did a lot for sure, made big strides. A lot but not too much.

I have been thinking about trying Rolfing Therapy to get my right side back in alignment and ready for 2009. I was going to wait until after the half ironman. Now I am changing my plan. Tomorrow I will visit my massage therapist and talk about beginning immediately on this imbalance. If the work changes my gait, or otherwise causes me to need to slow down in these next two races, so be it. I don’t care.

I will go to Philly this weekend with my wife and daughter and enjoy myself. Walk the full expo. Walk around center city, do the tourist thing. Art Museum. Rodin Museum. Franklin Institute. Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall. Eat a cheese steak sandwich. All the walking you’d never do the day before an important race. I will enjoy my family and myself. Sunday, I might just run a 2:10 half, so what.

I will go to Montauk on October 3 and have a blast. I am getting out there Friday night so I can volunteer for the sprint race on Saturday. I am bringing that mini Heineken keg, leftover from Lake Placid, for Saturday afternoon and evening. My new friend Simeon, I promise to stay ok to drive until we get you back from the train. Sunday, I will enjoy the day, and might just PR the course (7:13:54 2007) and distance (6:59:52 Tinman 2008) anyway. But who cares?

I do triathlon because it’s fun. I have a sharp mind. There is something else in me beside mind, I can feel it. I can put all this together, and I am.

3 comments:

christine said...

um... i hope you switched your complaint bracelet back and forth about a hundred times for this post. you sound like me.

Jen said...

with you on this.
When it stops being fun. Stop.

Simeon of Kent said...

Look forward to meeting you on Sat 4th - I may join you for one, or maybe two beers. But no more than that until after the race (famous last words!). Hope you sort out your niggles etc.