I was nearly done with my long run when I heard the lyrics, “How will you know….if you don’t try?” whispering in my ears. It was the remix of Jetstream by Jacques Lu Cont. “How will you know if you don’t try. How will you know if you don’t try.”
I had promised myself I was going to take this one easy, stay in zone 1-2 like the plan says, not pop it up to zone 4/ threshold. But my legs were rolling underneath me and I never take these long runs easy. Every time I make that promise to myself, stay around 7′s per mile. Don’t push it. Just ease into it and cruise. I hit the halfway point at the absolute lowest point in Blacksburg and took a left turn into some agonizing cramps and uphill. The pace slowed but the effort rose. Before I knew it I was hammering it up the hill, trying to salvage the pace I had kept on the downhill.
I buried myself on that run, lost six pounds to the cool January air. I was thinking about Nationals and Clermont, how I have never raced well when the pressure is greatest, how I seize under the spotlight. But I want this year to be different. And I will make this year different. My preparation is going to be better. I don’t know if I can attain that professional license this year, but in the lyrics that pounded in my ear fitting soundly like the support of an optimistic god, I won’t know if I don’t try. So I am giving it everything, all the commitment in the world.
I’ll be getting out of that mess at the swim start faster this year so I don’t get pummeled and distraught in the first seconds of the race. That is where my focus lies right now. But beyond that I will have confidence in each leg of the race that a sprained ankle last year prevent my training from granting me. I will toe that starting line with confidence and with that I will race with confidence.
Here in the college atmosphere, I am frequently surrounded by the exact opposite of what I pride myself on. Pleasure seekers and lazy people flood these college towns more than any other place. It is a frustrating display of humanity and one that reinforced so much of my personal beliefs. I am surrounded by pleasure seekers and the only way I see not falling into a state of extreme sadness or frustration over the matter is to avoid facing it.
I recognize the place for pleasure but maybe I feel it should be only as a reward. To these people, partying is their life. They probably have never known now will ever know the feeling of true hunger or thirst. They destroy their bodies with toxicity and excess. It is tough to see the maturity in that. And many people will argue with me against this, claiming social intoxication or moderation. They argue that they are better because of it but I cannot see it. I am open to new arguments about why pleasure is a necessary, or just simply a beneficial, escape. But I honestly cannot see the benefit of even living a life where one feels the need to escape. I think true happiness comes from consistent reward and pleasure, not excess followed by misery cycled for all eternity.
For a couple years I had been trying to pinpoint a reason I did not drink or eat excessively, kept my body fat low and my muscles toned. I wondered why I did not smoke or why I did not party, why education was so high on my priorities. But this year, I discovered why. I do not avoid alcohol because I know my overwhelming propensity to enjoy it. I avoid alcohol and drugs because it is pleasure when we do not deserve it. I avoid alcohol because it does not help me in any way; I can relax in other fashions, more substantial and fulfilling ways. There is no benefit to excessive consumption. I think people are so detached that they cannot see any other point than pleasure.
I have been criticized for some bitterness I carry with me. I used to consider myself an extremely sensitive person but I feel I have maybe lost the emotional roller coaster that I once considered part of my life. I am nearly always happy and very rarely sad. The life around me has been up and down and I haven’t let that inconsistency carry my emotions with it. I am worried that it is maybe a sort of bitterness or lifelessness, but maybe it is just me being in tune with what really matters, the life that I am granted and universe that it occupies. Maybe it is a step closer to nirvana.
I think maybe the two times that I have lay upon the earth and accepted death as my fate definitely has some influence on that. Those instances certainly did not make me softer. I am a different person from who I was eight years ago. Eight years ago I was fat and food and television were the pleasures that dominated my life. Now I am focused on strength, on taking control, on being in control.
Living alone, I am completely independent on the characters that wander about this world for personal satisfaction. From The Dirty Life, “Mark, I discovered, had never smoked or gotten drunk, he’d never tried drugs or slept around. He’d eaten wholesome and mostly organic food, and he’d spent most days of his adult life doing some kind of arduous physical exercise. He was the healthiest creature I’d ever laid eyes on. Some people wish for world peace or an end to homelessness. I wish every woman could have as a lover at some point in her life a man who never smoked or drank too much or became jaded from kissing too many girls or looking at porn, someone with gracious muscles that come from honest work and not from the gym, someone unashamed of the animal side of human nature.”
Mark is a hard ass, kind of standoffish. He likes his space and is a fan of hard work which may not leave much time for socializing. I know Mark very well. It may be sexy what that description reads but it is difficult to see what underlies a man like Mark. I never realized that those qualities were attractive to a woman but I guess many girls are fed up with the soft men of our time, the ones who hate their jobs, who party on weekends, who like dates solely because they get laid.
Mark likes work because it is work, something that sustains him and dates because it is real human interaction. He doesn’t like partying because he can’t relate to celebration for the sake of celebration. Instead when he accomplishes something, in his excitement, he sees hope of doing it even better. And instead of stopping to embrace what he has just succeeded at, as his form of celebration, he begins his fight to do it better.