The Cost Of Greatness

Before we go one step further in this “read Novia’s musings” thing, lemme manage your expectations a bit. 

I am fully aware that I will never be a pro, unless the ‘pro’ measurement is that of “napping” or “procrastinating” or a combination of the two: “procrastination napping.”  I'm also aware that the words: “wicked fast triathlete” will never follow the words: “Novia is a” and I’m perfectly fine with that, because greatness has no universally acccepted plumb line.  My definition of greatness is vastly different from yours.  AND, just because I’m a stickler for not making stuff up and calling it “fact,” I actually googled the definition of greatness and found this: the quality of being great, distinguished or eminent.  So yup, the plumb line vacillates, always contingent on what is being measured against what.

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Anywho, snore, yawn, allllllll blah, blah dictionary this, blah, blah big fancy words that, let’s move on!

We’re almost four weeks into the seven-week ‘preparation’ phase of my 2018 season, a time where my coach structures workouts that will lay the base in endurance and strength that we will build on and measure my strength/endurance gains against throughout the 2018 season. 

We’re almost four weeks in and I’m EXHAUSTED.  This isn’t your typical, I need a nap kind of exhaustion, it’s that I’m-two-weeks-out-from-my-‘A’-race-taper-and-I-just-want-taper-week-to-happen-NOW exhaustion.  But taper isn’t close, by a long shot.  I don’t get to hang with taper for another 32 weeks…YES, I’ve counted, don’t judge me!  I don’t want to move, I don’t want to think, I just want to sit still and zone out.  

WAIT!! Before you get all Helpful-Henry on me, yes, I did check all the obvious things!  I’m eating according to dietitians guidelines both macronutrient intake and caloric intake. Yes, I’m getting good restorative sleep day in, day out.  No, I’m not about to get sick.  No, I don’t have any draining stressors pulling at my psyche.

Earlier this week, I was lifting at the gym.  The opening set was 3 sets of 30 (each leg) step-ups on a 20-inch step with 35 lbs (two 17.5 lb dumbbells).  Five step-ups in and my legs began to tremble as I pushed through the back of my right foot, firing my glutes to lift my body up, and place the left foot and that additional 35 lbs next to my right foot on top of the box.  Only five step-ups in the first set…there were still 55 step-ups in the set and then two more sets after that.  And my legs were already tired (from workouts completed earlier in the week).

As I controlled the wobbly descent of my right leg off the step, down to the ground, a quiet impassive voice in my head cut  through the melody of X Ambassador’s Torches playing on my wireless headphones: “now we work.” 

It’s a voice I’ve heard a lot over the last four weeks.  A voice that has pushed me beyond points where in the past, I’ve stopped, rested and caught my breath.  A voice that without saying it, says: THIS is not all you have, dig deeper, there’s STILL more. 

Be it a lift where my muscles burn and wail yearning to return to the days when their cry baby “I’m gonna die” antics would elicit a: stop-and-relax mid-set from me.  Or, a run where I’m on the clock, on the track and every time I run by coach he looks at his clock, measuring my time, cuing me to check my heart rate monitor, am I where I need to be or am I phoning it in for looks?  Or, a bike interval with 2 minutes left and my hips burn, a sure sign the energy stored in those muscles is nigh unto depleted and I want to pull back, mitigate the discomfort.  Even then that dispassionate articulator without fanfare takes control of effort and exertion, driving harder, sustained by what appears to be the only three words in its vocabulary: “now we work.”

My exhaustion is not because of the physical exertion of my workouts, rather it’s a dead to rights consequence of a mind that has made an executive non-negotiable decision that “good enough” is no longer good enough.  A conscience that without remorse, chooses to daily drop the gauntlet, and successfully bullies me, time and again, into picking it up and running with it.

This is the cost of my personal greatness: a psychologically draining adaptation of a behavior pattern that regularly sees the proverbial line and takes an unapologetic, unrepentant hurdle over that “good enough” boundary in pursuit of the more robust accomplishments found far beyond good enough's lackluster terra-firma

It’ll get better.  I know. 

Eventually that placid voice will fade from my head, leaving behind indelible neuromuscular memory to ‘dig for more’ when the given undertaking becomes difficult.  Until then, I’ll pay the price of dragging butt, feeling like I’m an 80-year old trapped inside a not-even-anywhere-close-to-80-year-old’s body. 

Because, the cost of greatness is a price tag well within my means, a daily deposit I can bear.