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February 22, 2007

Big Sur Booty Call

"Well it winds up broken up, really such a shame -
But why not take a chance, everything's a game -
And it don't stop, hooking up, nothing's gonna change ...

Consequences are a lot but hey - That's the way things go ... "

- The Offspring, "Hit That"

**
Long term relationships can be complicated things. Especially if you’re trying to develop one while simultaneously extricating yourself from another.

For example, allow me to describe a situation that might sound familiar. Maybe it’s even happened to you, or to someone you know.

Let’s say you were in a long-term relationship – like, more than 10 years long. Then after a while the whole thing felt unsatisfying, the spark gradually faded, and you found yourself incredibly attracted to someone else. You finally decided to leave your first love and run away with your mistress. Ever since then, it has felt like the best decision you ever made.

But neither of you relocated, so you still cross paths from time to time, and you have a lot of mutual acquaintances. It’s awkward at first when you hear people talk about your first love, and realize that she’s not really part of your life anymore. Gradually, however, your feelings soften, and you don’t have any lingering resentment when her name comes up in conversation.

Sometimes you even see her in the company of others, or look at old pictures of the two of you together, but there aren't any hard feelings - and you can still appreciate her for the beautiful person she is. Plus, you’re still very happy with your new relationship, so you don’t really have any regrets about the way things turned out.

Then one spring afternoon, you see your first love in the grocery store, and she looks drop-dead gorgeous. You start chatting and laughing and catching up on things, and the banter reminds you of how much fun it was just to hang out together back in the day. You remember all the good memories you shared – and you realize that you’re still very much attracted to her.

You think about her for the rest of the day. Later that night, you send her a text message: Can I come over? And before you even get the reply, you’re packing a small bag to take with you, because you know what’s coming: OK.

So you go ahead and get your booty call – but afterwards, you’re not sure what to make of it. Does this mean you’re back together? Are you going to have more rendezvous like this in the future, or was it just a one-time shot for the sake of nostalgia?

The only thing you’re certain of is that it makes your current relationship – which, just to re-emphasize, you are extremely happy with – a lot more complicated. You’ve always understood that you can’t devote yourself to one love if you’re fooling around with another – but (since, by the way, you’re an idiot) that didn’t stop you from trying, and now you’ll probably have to learn it the hard way.

All of which serves as a very long buildup to a somewhat (by now) obvious announcement: I’m signed up for the Big Sur Marathon this April. I’m also the guy who is eternally torn between his mistress and his first love.

This is the analogy I’ve beaten to death, including at the end of last year when I walked away from my identity as a marathoner, and declared myself a dedicated triathlete. Ever since then, I’ve been incredibly satisfied with the decision.

The first public display of this new affection was when I signed up for the Wildflower triathlon in May. I’ve never raced at Wildflower before, because the race is always a mere one week (or less – six days for the long course race) after the Big Sur Marathon, which is the race that I’ve done more than any other - more than 10 times - and the one that has come to define my running career over the years.

This winter, my spark for running Big Sur faded somewhat, and for the first time in over a decade, I seriously considered sitting out the race. However, I signed up for the Olympic distance at Wildflower (instead of the long course) to leave myself the option of entering Big Sur if I warmed up to the idea later.

Because even though I’ve given up serious marathoning, I still live on the Monterey Peninsula. I still run with my local training group. I knew that as the winter months came and went, I’d hear an increasing amount of comments and conversations about Big Sur than I could count. And I knew I’d probably feel an occasional longing to return to my former love.

As Big Sur drew closer to selling out, I had a decision to make. I thought of all my great memories there, and realized I was still attracted to it. I knew that once I saw preparations being made during race week, the marathon would be too enticing for me to ignore. So I plunked down my money and signed up for the race.

(There are also a couple of other, more practical reasons for my entering Big Sur – which I’ll discuss in a separate post soon. They’re fairly significant, but don’t fit as well with this whole warped analogy thing I’ve got going here. Bear with me - I’m trying to steer this bus in just one direction today.)

However – just to re-emphasize – I consider myself a triathlete now. And I’m extremely happy in that role. My biggest priorities for the year are to have two strong triathlons (Wildflower and Vineman), and any other success would be gravy. I wouldn’t give up this mistress relationship I have now for anything in the world.

But on the last the Sunday in April, I plan on making a booty call at the Big Sur Marathon. And afterward, things are bound to get complicated.

I know this, because my training schedule has already become tricky, trying to manage all of the workouts I need in order to properly prepare for each race. Look at my race calendar on the right: I don’t do many races each year, so I take them all fairly seriously. The idea of training through a race doesn’t fly with me – for reasons I’ll talk about another day. (See - still keeping the bus straight!)

During nearly every workout for the past several weeks, my thoughts have dwelt on Wildflower, and how I can have the best possible race there. And I know that racing the Big Sur Marathon could wreck my chances of performing well at Wildflower. There’s simply no rational reason to think I can devote myself to both events as much as I’d like to.

But since - as you must certainly know by now - I’m an idiot, that’s not going to stop me from trying. Sometimes I just prefer learning things the hard way.

12 comments:

angie's pink fuzzy 2/22/07, 4:43 PM  

I remember telling my mom when I was about 13, "But, Mom, I WANT to learn things the hard way. It's the only way to really learn!" And I've stuck true to that ever since :)

Have fun with your booty call and I look forward to reading the rest of the reasons.

Backofpack 2/22/07, 6:10 PM  

Yeah, well, we're all idiots now and then. I don't understand the lure of the tri, but I'll watch with interest anyway.

Thomas 2/23/07, 2:25 AM  

I don't quite understand your infatuation with the new mistress, but I do agree that you've stretched the analogy to breaking point.

rick 2/23/07, 7:33 PM  

What's a race schedule without a little idiocy built in? Makes it exciting I think, "oh can I pull this off? one way to find out". Sometimes the hard way is sitting at home thinking "should I, shouldn't I". Like the old Nike slogan that still rings true, Just Do It, the answer is out there.

P.S. your mistress is sexy, what with all the shaved legs and spandex:) don't even get me started on the molded carbon bikes.

Annette 2/24/07, 11:23 AM  

You and your analogies. :) Can it really be considered a booty call if you sign up and train for it? Sounds like it's premeditated. Does that make it a more serious offense? :)

Good luck with that booty call! ;)

Fe-lady 2/25/07, 5:57 PM  

Like you I started out as a distance runner and marathoner...even an almost ultra-marathoner with one 40 miler under my belt. I still think of myself first and foremost as a runner...but now I get in more swim/bike hours than running as it's what my body can do at the moment.
Hey, how about this? You (we) can be BOTH! :-)
Idiot- no.
Love a challenge? -yes

robtherunner 2/25/07, 7:49 PM  

I hope you keep on running Big Sur each year. Just think, in 40ish years they will be saying how this is your 50th finish at Big Sur. How cool would that be? You can do it!

Journey to a Centum 2/26/07, 12:43 PM  

Hey just imagine if Big Sur your "booty call" helped prepare you for a faster tri! I ran my PR marathon which was the fourth in four consecutive months on a hilly course. Mental toughness dude, mental toughness. You can and will do it! You are not an idiot, just a guy trying to cram as much life into the time he has on this earth as is humanly possible!

Journey to a Centum 2/26/07, 12:49 PM  

One more thing...

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. - Mark Twain

Wildflower will be a forgiving race for you as you crush the competition and smell sweet satisfaction.

Mike 2/26/07, 9:43 PM  

Great post Donald!

Holy crapola, I didn't realize you took the big plunge with the Vineman 140.6 this year! I love that course..did the 1/2 several times but it sure can get HOT up there. Train in the heat this summer sir!

With your fitness- the BSM / Wildflower double will be no problem!

Darrell 3/14/07, 12:44 PM  

For a lot of us, at least for me, you and BSM are inseparable. I guess I just assumed you'd work it into the schedule. If anybody can pull this two timing thing off (you do it so eloquently in print) it would be you. I still fully expect to see you there some day.

Anonymous,  8/15/07, 10:02 AM  

Wow - I was so impressed to see a guy writing so frankly about love and relationships - wonderful BUT then I see it's all a metaphor

men, sigh, sigh, sigh

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