Last year, I participated in my first and only sprint triathlon. It was a half mile swim, a 12 mile bike (which I did not technically complete because of some missed signage) and a 5K run. My training was rigorous, at least for me. I was working out 6 days a week rotating between all three activities and, sometimes, stringing two together at a single workout. I also learned to swim properly, which I consider the greatest achievement of the entire ordeal. On race day I choked and froze (literally and figuratively) during the open water swim after getting kicked around and losing all rhythm to my breathing. I regained some confidence on the bike. And I finished off strong in the run, averaging a much higher time per mile than I had in any of my training. When I was finished I learned my mistake during the bike (I did one loop, not two) and was completely devastated. I've since accepted the mishap but I still find myself thinking I did not truly complete what I had set out to do.
I share all of this with you because I used the triathlon as a metaphor for my goals as a writer. Having made the decision to do such a physically intense race, I realized I would simply have to work my ass off for it. During my triathlon training it occurred to me that if I couldn't run 3 miles without feeling OK afterward, well, then I wouldn't be able to do a triathlon. Just as it often occurs to me now that if I don't sit down and write a chapter I won't ever have a novel. But, no matter how much I trained for the big event, I couldn't have anticipated my freak out during the swim or my complete brain fart during the bike. And as I take on this massive project of writing a novel I'm realizing that there are a lot of things I could not have anticipated, like life getting in the way of writing time and characters taking off and doing all kinds of crazy things that have me constantly re-adjusting and re-evaluating where I'm going and how best to get there.
Until now, I hadn't really sat down and fleshed out the connection between the triathlon and my decision to write a novel. But when I set out to do the darn thing (which is about the time I had a book idea stirring around in my head) I knew that they were linked. With the race, I simply wanted to complete it because I was tired of wanting to do something and feeling like I couldn't. And despite the fact that I've completed much more intense bike rides, it's pretty hard for me to shake the fact that, technically I didn't complete the bike portion of that damn race.
And I guess that's why I'm Duathlon-ing June 2009-- (run, bike, run). And even though I told everyone I knew I would never do an open water swim again, I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not going to stick to that statement :-) But only time will tell.
And I thought it would be really funny if I posted a picture of my bike just like Lance Armstrong did on twitter the other day. Cause that's how strongly I feel about doing whatever the heck you want to do even when it feels like there are a lot of things getting in your way.