Monday, May 26, 2008

My three compartments

My life is more or less governed by three main compartments: Family, Training, and Work. I've found that in general I can handle floods in two of the compartments, but when the third floods as well we have problems. From late March until a few weeks ago, I had issues with work (reorganization and new boss) and training (just the general stress associated with the physical load increasing). Then Alexandra got a cold and had her asthma flare up: Three compartments flooding. Not surprisingly I broke down pretty quickly. I got a nice case of shingles. Thankfully no blisters, but the pain along my right side was at times pretty severe, much like a bad sunburn...all the time. I was forced to dial back on the one thing over which I had complete control; my training. That also created some stress, in the form of concern about my fitness going into my two biggest months of the year. Nonetheless my immune system needed to recover so I started taking every other day off.

It is now 3 weeks since the pain started. It is getting a bit better, but is not gone. More important, however, is the fact that I believe I am getting work back under control. That all started with a presentation I did for a vendor sponsored seminar. The feedback I got was that it was one of the better customer presentations they had ever heard. This got me feeling good about myself as a professional again, and thus restored my confidence in my strategies at work. The next key moment came during a training run this last week. I decided to "break training" a little and test the legs by running a strong, but not all out, mile. I looked to run 5:45 to 5:50. When I stopped my watch at the end it said 5:27.89. Oh boy, I still had some speed. And Alexandra was taken back off of her asthma meds, which make her insane at times, and the asthma did not return. That was the best one ever. Well obviously things were on a steady upswing again, and because of that I considered NOT going to my first multisport race of the year; the Coast Guard Duathlon (run/bike/run). I was a little emotionally drained and just wanted to rest. However, I did go. I'm a believer in momentum and I had some positive mo' going right now. The plan was to race hard, but not kill myself. I still had a 4 hour workout planned this weekend, and the race was more of a glorified training session than a race. I'm happy to say I executed the plan well. In fact because I was so relaxed I had some of the best transitions (when you switch from one discipline to the next) that I've ever had: 33 seconds from the run onto the bike, and 29 seconds from the bike back onto the run. My racing was pretty good too. Out of 240 starters (duathon's don't get very big fields) I finished 5th overall (again), 30 seconds out of 2nd place, and won my age group (M40-44) by almost 2 minutes. My time was also more than a minute faster than last year.

So there's a lesson here: you can't fight a war on multiple fronts. I try to, but it just doesn't work. The key is to take a step back, get a couple of things under control, and then ride the wave as things start going well again. It's an important life lesson and one I hope to remember next time BEFORE I get a condition most commonly seen in people over 60.

PS: If you haven't noticed from the previous posts, one other thing I did was to spend more quality time with the kids. They're a lot of work, but they're also skilled at refocusing your priorities.