To kick off a work meeting last week, we were asked to share our life theme song. Normally I hate icebreakers like this, and when put on the spot to come up with a favorite movie/book/artist I always get flustered and can’t think of a single example. Sure enough, when it was my turn, I tried to pass but was forced into at least admitting that I generally enjoy country music. It was only later while listening to a random iPod playlist that I remembered what song defines my life. Really, there are many, but this one stands out every time I hear it — Alex Band, “It Doesn’t Get Better Than This.”
Yeah, it’s a solo track from the lead singer of The Calling, and yeah, I’m pretty sure it came from an angsty preteen film, and yeah, it’s one of those “live life to the fullest” kinds of things, but it’s a reminder that I have a pretty charmed existence. I’m incredibly blessed to be healthy and stable and happy and comfortable and employed and debt-free with the best family and friends a girl could ask for. To have all of these things at age 24 is amazing. So as stressed and overwhelmed as I get at times, it truly doesn’t get better than this.
That said, February is very much an out-of-sorts month for me. It happens every year. It’s still winter-ish and I’m tired of being cold and we’re in that post-holiday dead zone where there’s not a lot to look forward to in the immediate future. I get cranky and blah and call my mom in tears with no specific complaints other than that things just aren’t right. I know. It’s just the way it goes, and for whatever reason she tolerates it.
After this happened late last week, I decided to take a few days to do what I wanted to do. I got my workouts in, but I did them by myself and on my own schedule. I spent an afternoon at the bar, drinking beer and watching basketball. I had a late-night Skype chat with my sisters, which is the next best thing to actually being at Duke to cuddle up and watch bad TV together. I had an out-of-this-world 4.5 hour brunch experience at a semi-secret supper club, where we were served fresh Indian street food and educated on the history of chai. We also popped champagne for this lovely lady’s birthday. I cleaned and organized my apartment, got my finances in order, baked, and made progress on decorative pillows I’ve been meaning to sew for a month. And that, folks, is the perfect weekend.
It’s hard to nail down what sends me into this February funk every year, as it seems to be dictated by circumstance. In 2011 it was mostly due (I think) to the end of a relationship that had defined/controlled my life for quite awhile. This round of yuck is partly related to the injury streak I seem to be on, but I also believe it has a lot to do with the nature of triathlon training as a whole and the day in and day out sharing of our entire lives on the Internet.
As someone who has a way with words so aptly put it, blogs are a bit of a mindfuck. I love following everyone’s training and racing successes and disasters. It’s just too early in the season to be driven insane by the one-up-everyone-all-the-time rat race that is the tri scene and/or the blog world. It is NOT too early — or too late, or whatever — to remember one of my big priorities for the year, which is not to get so wrapped up in my training and/or everyone else’s that I lose sight of all the non-sports-related activities that are important to me. I have too many other exciting things going on in my life right now to jump off that cliff.
For example, next week I’ll begin coaching with a brand-new all-women’s triathlon team in the D.C. area, which is a fantastic way to be involved with the sport and meet amazing women without getting my own priorities (and competitive personality) mixed in. I’m so honored to have been asked to lead the bike portion of the group’s 70.3 training schedule. It’ll be a huge challenge but one that I’m beyond excited to take on. I’ve also been tasked with planning the Long Family European Adventure of 2012 — in another life I think I’m actually a luxury travel consultant — which means I’ve been researching off-the-beaten-path towns for us to check out. There’s still a bit of disagreement over where we want to go (we actually can’t do Belgium and Greece and Holland and Switzerland and southern France all in a one-week trip, sadly) but I’m not complaining about the excuse to read Travel + Leisure in my spare time. [Edit: I realize this falls in the overprivileged white girl category. Which is fine, I’ll own it.] And in other creative pursuits, I’m still working on apartment decor/design, experimenting with homemade bread recipes, and making up for lost time with all the D.C. food scene priorities I missed over the last year because I didn’t have the time or money to partake.
So will I still be training? Well, yeah, I still have a race on my calendar, but it’ll be on my own terms and kept in check with the million and seven other hobbies, interests, and talents I have that I don’t want to lose sight of. I promised myself after Ironman that I wouldn’t slip back into the strict (and very dry) train-eat-sleep-repeat existence because, let’s face it, I’m not a pro and don’t have to, and that’s a pretty boring way to spend my 20s. I need to train because I enjoy it and it keeps me healthy and sane, not to compete with everyone else to see who can put in the most hours at the highest intensity on the most expensive bike.
All this to say: Speed Laces is going on hiatus for a little bit.
It won’t be forever, and maybe not even for that long, but at least until I get my head on straight. I want to be in a place every. single. day where I can say that it doesn’t get better than this. As my sister would say, “Girl, you do you.”
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to researching Croatian beaches and Austrian castles. Later.