In any good action movie, some lesser spy, when captured, will grind his teeth into a hidden capsule of instant death upon capture.
“Ha ha ha ha, you will DIE! You cannot stop us!!!” He laughs at the hero through his clenched teeth while foam bubbles up from a corner of his mouth.
It’s a scene that plays through my head when events convene to remind me of the importance of being delusionally optimistic. Things like empty bank accounts, too few days off, and a crash might have happened for a reason, I like to tell myself. Some cosmic purpose other than to make my own mouth froth in jealousy at the sight of bike commuters or roadies headed out on weekend rides. There must be, I’ve internally claimed, life points gained in the purgatory of injury and the special hell of lost fitness that follows. It’s optimism born of desperation, but sometimes fish oil and vitamin D isn’t enough to keep me on the right side of hopelessness.
Unfortunately, that uncharacteristic cup half full mentality which had made itself quite comfortable on the figurative couch of my psyche, had just about overstayed its welcome. Negativity was trying to kick it to the curb. Dropping temperatures and shorter days weren’t helping the slow, inevitable march into a winter promising an exploding waistline and weaker legs. By mid-November, I knew that my version of “taking it easy” was simply a justification to watch more TV. The worst part was that I was starting to not give a shit about not really giving a shit.
It was paralysis by not-so-much analysis. My tempo speed of the past summer is decidedly no longer extant, and my heart rate tends to skyrocket on anything more demanding than quick, easy spins on the trainer. Hills? Mountain passes? Sprints? Call me [next summer], maybe.
Pathetically, I even had the audacity to feel sorry for myself. As if a crash that had happened two months ago was keeping me from spinning something harder than my little ring. I was no longer trying to do that thing where I try to stay on the trainer for as long as I could possibly stand. I skipped out on a few days of scheduled riding, for no reason other than because it was just easier not to.
The problem is, no matter how much easier it is to let some more evil force destroy the world, we all identify with the hero. You know, the fight against certain evil, success against all odds, the shadow of the phoenix that can rise from your coach, dust off the cookie crumbs, and snap off the TV to go ride for once. It’s harder to do – because holy hell is TV entertaining – but the dividends promised are at least more physically appealing than a fluffy butt and a blubbery belly.
The fun thing with regressing, I’ve been telling myself, is that there is no way but up. You really have no choice but to give it your all, even if it feels like your body is trying to kill you in the process. I gave myself heartburn and a leg-beating so bad I saw spots in the last two minutes of a semi-sprint up a small mountain pass last weekend. I tried to keep lemon-lime Nuun water down while spitting up thick saliva at the top. I could barely function on the way home.
It’s the spoiler to the terribly unattractive way in which I’ll be training this winter. Snot will fly, drool will dribble everywhere, and I expect to be generally useless after any substantial ride. But hey, though I’ve often wished otherwise, I’m no superhero; and no one ever said saving a cardiovascular system was going to be easy.