Embracing the Off Season

All of the natural world is formed upon cycles.

It’s easy to lose track of that, to quell the cycles that were once such prominent drivers in every aspect of our existence, with our technologically flattened routines. Artificial light, sendentary lifestyles, food-like products, uppers, downers, central heat, air conditioning…

I used to work with horses. I actually lived in a barn. I saw the fields go from barren to lush to barren. I watched the farmers work tirelessly through planting and harvesting seasons. And then nothing. The bright lights that once lit a path late into the dark night for their tractors, now illuminated warm little homes, quiet and still against a backdrop of white snow. They slept, they ate, they recharged.

As it was with us. The training wound down as the ground became frosty and inevitably hardened against the crisp air. Lean muscles pulled taught over bulging ribs hid themselves under blankets of thick fur and a few extra buckets of oats.

A lot of what draws endurance athletes to the sports we live for is a return to simpler, more primal times. To reconnect with nature… it’s cycles… it’s pulse.

We know the warmth of sinking into a soft bed, exhausted. The satisfaction of a full meal into an empty belly. We live these primal cycles every day. We overcome the struggle and find the most profound pleasure in striking balance.

And so it should be.

I’m feeling the full effect of winter. After a long and taxing season of hard training and racing efforts, I’m ok with a few extra bowls of oats and some extra padding on my ribs.

Planting season is after all, right around the corner.

Thanks. Really. Thanks.

Thanks. Really. Thanks.

It’s impossible not to notice. Summer is gone. I spent it in a whirlwind of renovations and first trimester pregnancy blah. Hence, my blog writing frequency has been less than stellar.

But I find myself compelled to write with the changing of the seasons and the not-too-distant arrival of 2014 and all the joys it promises.

The first being my daughter turning 3. The second being the arrival of my second child in February.

The third, and they say everything comes in threes, is the return of race season. I live to race. And 2014 looks like it will bring a lot of livin’.

I plan on focusing on my new love – obstacle racing – in the coming year with some supplemental trail and road racing. I am pretty sure I live in the best place on the planet to train: wet, mountainous and beautiful. And that leaves me feeling… thankful.

I wonder how easy breezy it must be for other athletes to decide their race goals. No diapers, no naps, no preschool, no packing the entire family into a plane or car to get to races, no breast feeding mid-run. I wonder how I am going to compete at the level I want to be competing at next year with the constraints I have.

But even my worries leave me feeling thankful. What a predicament to be in to be trying to balance two things that I love so dearly. Honestly, as much as I live to race, if I had to choose between having my family or a career in racing, hands down, my family would win. Thankfully, I don’t have to choose.

Now that’s something to be thankful for.