Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Shall We Begin?

I had thought I would conclude my “T/F=H” series with a post of the happiness part of the equation, but I wasn’t really sure what to say. Instead, I will likely do a post on some of the interesting things I learned from reading “The Little Book of Talent”, which was the follow-up to the “The Talent Code”. One interesting subject that it brought up was grit, which I would like to explore. Perhaps I can even find a connection between grit and happiness. However, before I move on to those topics, I feel like I need to catch up a bit on recent events, where I’ll admit that I fell short on both.

As much as winter sucks for cyclists, I typically come into January with great hope for the coming year and feeling especially motivated to withstand the suckiness of winter. During November and December, I expected that to be true this year, as well, and looked forward to the conclusion of holiday travel and the beginning of 2018. We moved into our house in December, and I was excited to have a finished basement that I actually liked working out in, instead of having my bike and trainer taking up space in our small living room.

After months of scheming, dreaming, and saving money, I was able to pre-order a RipRow at the beginning of November, and at the time, the expected delivery date was “before Christmas”. Although that already felt like a long wait, at least I would be ready to hit the ground running (or rowing) in January and start getting ready for spring. Then the “before Christmas” delivery date slipped to “early January” to “next week” and another “next week” before any of the units would ship. Now I’m still waiting for them to assemble and box number 49, plus however long it actually takes to get here from Colorado. That puts me a good month past “before Christmas” before I get to use it.

I was so excited about this piece of equipment, and it was huge motivator for me going into winter. We don’t have access to any pump tracks near State College, nor any jumps or drops, so beyond just physical conditioning, I hoped that it would also improve my riding skills. I was hoping it would be a way for to me to accumulate the necessary “reaches and reps” (shout out to The Little Book of Talent”) in a safe and efficient manner so that I could get more out of my once or twice a month days at the bike park. I was also looking forward to the “300 pound dead lift” highest resistance setting with the hope that I could quit the gym and start getting my strength training at home in my nice basement.

It might sound stupid, but the continued shipping delays have turned my motivator into a de-motivator. After the way I had imagined my January training, going to regular old loud and overcrowded gym and doing regular old trainer workouts seem even more unpleasant than they normally would.  Although intellectually I know I need to keep doing the work that I can do, I find it much harder to do regular winter training this year, and so far this is probably my worst January since I started 2015 off with a two-week respiratory infection and tore a rib muscle from coughing too hard.

Besides the direct training motivators and de-motivators, I was also really thrown off by the very sudden loss of 14-year-old cat Mushu on January 8th. Although I knew she was getting older and that I would have to say goodbye to her someday, I had no idea it would be this soon. She seemed so happy since moving to the new house, where she had a lot more room to run around and go up and down stairs, which was always one of her favorite things. She was more active than she had been in a long time, such that I almost wonder if she died of too much fun. Technically, it was a blood clot that cut off circulation to her backs legs, taking her from seemingly fine and normal to unable to walk in under a half an hour. We rushed her to the vet, but the vet said that the “prognosis was extremely grave” and recommended we have to put to sleep. It was truly awful having to say to goodbye to my beloved friend so suddenly on what I had started as a normal Monday morning. I always knew she was a once-in-lifetime kind of cat, and that I was so lucky to have had her as my first pet.

I know that I’ll never find another quite like her, but after years of waiting to own our own home and have as many pets we wanted, we had already started to looking to expand our family. We had planned to get a dog, but it felt like too much to put on Clemmie and Mushu so soon after moving houses. However, I already had gotten pretty used to scrolling through the Petfinder app, and when Mu passed, it just felt too weird being a single-cat household. Within a couple of days, I had located a pair of four-month-old long-haired littermates in Zanesville, OH, which Frank graciously went to pick up on his day off from teaching Friday. Ice and snow fell Friday night and the temperatures barely cracked 20 all weekend, so we closed out our week spending a couple of days shut in with some adorable orange and white babies. I’m looking forward to another 14 (or more) years with Shiny Fluffy Tutu (girl) and and Dashing Happy Feet (boy), whose names were given to them by their 5-year-old foster sister and we decided to not to change when we adopted them. Clemmie is still pretty cranky about the whole situation, but she is starting to adjust.

How can anyone be expected to accomplish anything with these cute faces on their couch?

So we’re now nearly three weeks into the new year, and I haven’t accomplished much training-wise. I’m still nervous and frustrated and burnt out and grieving and also a little paralyzed by cute. I’m trying really hard to get going and make it a great year for bikes. I’m really excited about returning to the West Virginia Enduro Series again this year, as well as pushing my boundaries a bit further by doing a couple of big two-day races at the USAC national championship in Snowshoe and the newly-announced EWS Continental Series race in Burke, VT in September. It’s time I stopped getting bogged down by things beyond my control and got moving with the things that I can. I said I wouldn’t bore you this year with posts about how many planned trainer workouts that I actually did this winter, but it might be good for me check back in next week. Between now and then, I hope to not only find some intelligent things to say about grit, but also muster some of it.

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