Monday, August 23, 2010

Do What You Love

Island lake transition I am a morning person.  Like my Border Collies, I am active and high-energy.  I like to compete and to try new challenges, and I like to push myself to see what I am capable of.  Despite these facts, sometimes at 4 AM on a Sunday when I am waking up to a glass of energy drink and preparing to drive to a local park to set up my race gear in darkness, well aware of the almost 90 minutes of pain that are awaiting me, I have passing thoughts about my sanity and about how I choose to spend my leisure time.

This Sunday, the triathlon season came full circle, as I finished out the year racing on the same course I started the season out with in May.  Back in May, I remember that weekend seemed to mark the start of the summer.  Having just returned from our road trip down south, we came home to Michigan to find the days increasingly longer and warmer, our flower beds fully in bloom, and had three months of summer fun planned ahead of us.  Yesterday as I set up my transition area, I noticed how the days were shorter now and you could feel fall’s approach was imminent.  I also noticed how in the past week or so, my motivation had been waning slightly, and I was feeling rather ready to take a break from tri-racing until next spring.

So as I sat at the beach finishing my coffee and getting ready to wriggle into my wetsuit, I was reminding myself, why do I do this?  The answer is that it really is damn fun.  It is the same reason that we wake up at equally unreasonable hours to head off to an agility trial, set up tents, crates, and exercise pens, and hustle around all day studying course maps, warming up dogs, and running our courses.   It is a challenge, sure, but more simply, it is just fun and it brings us joy.  And really, is there any better reason to do anything?

This has been a busy, but very enjoyable summer, for our entire household.  The secret to this enjoyment, I believe, is finding what you love and dedicating yourself to it, even at times when you are tempted to do something easier.  I didn’t always feel like heading out on my bike after work for a pre-dinner ride, nor did I always want to battle the backyard mosquitoes in order to set up some 2x2 weave pole practice, but my motivation at those times was the knowledge of how much true pleasure and enjoyment I get out of those things once I begin.  Bike riding always seems to elevate my mood no matter how grumpy I am feeling, and my dogs always make me laugh and smile with their enthusiasm and delight in whatever game we are playing.  OK, there may have been a long run or two in the high-80’s and 100% humidity where I was definitely not happy or pleasant to be with, but those were few and far between.  And I was always happy to have done it once it was over.

The flip side of this secret, I’ve realized this year, is recognizing what things you think are making you happy, that really aren’t.  We made decisions this year to step back from some activities that were taking a lot of our time, and no longer bringing us the enjoyment that they once had.  We made decisions that weren’t always easy – no longer participating in some events that we used to, deciding not to follow instruction from trainers whose advice at times conflicted with what we knew best for our dogs, etc. – but have not had any regrets.   Instead, we found ourselves with the time to spend on our priorities, and I am grateful we had the wisdom to make those decisions.

By mid-morning yesterday, my final tri of the season was completed.  I had taken over two minutes of off my race time since May, and came in third in my age group, much to my pleasant surprise.  I started contemplating doing one more tri this season, and looking forward to some fall trail races, more agility trials, and camping trips still to come. 

And, even at the most painful points of the run, I had a blast, and remembered to find the joy in what I was doing.  With a quarter-mile left on the run, I imagined that I was running up the last, long hill in the final quarter-mile of our usual morning run at home.  I pictured Cadence in front of me on those training runs, happily charging up the hill, tongue and ears flapping, and imagined he was joyfully pulling me towards that finish line.


wet T

Tristan is never afraid to do what he loves.

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