28 October 2013

The Triathlete's Garden

Last winter a triathlete moved in a few blocks away 

He bought a large home in the Washington Park area of Denver with a landscaped front yard. The first time I was introduced to him he presented himself as an Ironman athlete who most certainly planned to train and plan for more races that coming summer. He listed off his target races, mentioned that he was a single Dad with shared custody, and generally chatted about how much he enjoyed training.

All the while he chatted, I kept picturing that big home with the garden. Why had he bought that house? Sure it was four blocks from an excellent location to get in the running miles, but it was possibly too much to manage solo. I have always thought there should be a kind of designated housing for Ironman athletes. Some sort of complex with big garages, bigger kitchens, comfortable beds, a nice bath to shave the legs and no gardens to tend.

I watched that garden die over the summer. Weeds growing tall between the dead branches not removed in spring and plants not tended to in summer.  I pedaled by that garden on my cruiser bike to and from yoga and zumba class, watching it wither in neglect. A clear sign that the owner had other priorities. The training must be going well, I thought as the weeks passed, surely his A, B, and C races had come and almost gone by now.

Then one day in mid Fall that garden got ripped out. The occasionally mowed grass patch remained but the flower beds were torn up. Gone. There is no place in a triathlete's life for flowers. No putsing in the garden for an Ironman. Life is about a strict schedule of run / bike / ride, laundering of lycra, concocting kale smoothies and selecting recipes from the Feedzone cookbook.

Sometimes we learn our best lessons from watching others. I watched that garden throughout the spring and summer months as I myself headed out on long bike rides, traveled to week-long stage races, and spent hours writing on a computer. The garden became a symbol of a lifestyle. I confess I am a garden putser, so my own garden survived the brutal months of life as a road cyclist/fan. Now I too am paying the price.

"No I won't be at the race this weekend, I am painting my garage." I've been saying that for 2 months now, because it took me eight full days (there goes the weekend) to prep (the worst part of all!) and paint my garage and house trim. Add to that some gutter cleaning and repair, fence mending and painting, patio and brick repair - and you have a "former" cyclist who is happy to barely make it to yoga class twice a week.

I have always said we can be really good at three things at a time, with an additional two things marginally okay, another one or two half-assed, and then sadly neglectful of the rest. Yet most of us attempt to try to master about 6 things and fake all the rest, hoping no one will notice.
  • full time job
  • home-owner (with a well-maintained home)
  • parenting
  • married or "in a relationship"
  • athlete on a training schedule (with "goals")
  • healthy eater 
  • consistent dog walker
  • blogger/photographer (person with a time consuming hobby like bike racing)
  • community involvement/volunteering 
  • social critter (friends and extended family)
  • remembering to call your Mother
If you are successful at all eleven of these responsibilities - well I don't know you. Nor do I want to because you are too perfect and will only make me feel completely unaccomplished. I didn't even mention relaxation, or church (church - are you kidding me - it falls during the Cat 35+/4 race), or house cleaner/toilet cleaner or person with enough extra time to twitter their life away or read everyone else's posts on facebook.

I admit I am part of a new social subculture of people who are "facebook fakers". I am seriously expecting our formal greeting to be officially changed to - greeter: "How are you?" reply: "I posted it on Facebook." I live in fear of someone responding to me, "Well, I posted it on facebook, you didn't read my post? I am clearly not a priority to you." Oh but you are you are, I missed your post because it was buried under the hundred's of other political / must see video posts by other friends who are of no more a priority than you. I promise.

I simply cannot keep up with everything.  My garden is still growing! And my house is painted!

Do I get some brownie points for that? This is why I suggest not having a dog, child, wife, husband or mother; never signing up for that epic cycling event; and never owning a home or garden. Life sounds downright miserable at this point so perhaps giving up documenting a life on Twitter, Facebook or on a blog is a better choice. I gave up on the latter - blogging.

You see this was a long story about why I have not been blogging much lately. But hey - my house is now painted and I felt that wonderful all over body buzz (on par with having completed a century ride) after working the ladders for 9 straight hours yesterday. I hope that paint job lasts for three years, because next year I plan to ride my bike A LOT.

I want to go to France. They have this bike race called the Tour de France and it happens every July. Right smack dab in the middle of the summer!

I think I'll blog about it.

Juggling life's responsibilities, it's our shared human experience.