Following the Ironman last November 28th, Melissa & I embarked on a period of recovery – 40 days during which we did not swim, bike or run. Melissa, I think, felt some level of guilt during that month, plus. She has the soul of an athlete and slothfulness does not come easily to her. She approached the recovery period holistically, knowing that her performance in the next race season would to some degree depend on the quality of the rest and recuperation that took place in December. Yet, she was ill at ease with the thought of hanging up her running shoes for over a month. I, on the other hand, was happier than a coon dog in a room full of bare legs.
Melissa spoke often, while we were in Cozumel, about wanting to engage in an “active recovery” in which we would attend Yoga and Pilates classes to maintain some semblance of strength and flexibility during our time off. And while agreeing with the importance of this in theory, I enthusiastically embraced the role of chief saboteur, plotting (sometimes elaborately) to foil my new bride’s ambitious and health-conscious plans with a myriad of excuses and distractions to avoid coming anywhere near the proximity of a gym. My “active recovery” revolved around devising plans to do something (anything) other than working out. And with the exception of one Yoga class (which only heightened my dedication to utter slothfulness), my efforts were a resounding success.
“Carpe Diem” was the slogan of the day during this time and after eleven straight months of working out, I was determined to seize not only each day, but to savor each and every moment. And if ever there was a great month to not work out, it most assuredly is December. Between the end of year/holiday celebrations with friends and colleagues, Christmas visits to and from family and the general festiveness of the season, gluttony rules the day, and even if it is the deadliest of the Seven Deadly Sins, it is by far my favorite.
This was college bowl game season mind you, and my 40 days off consisted of a steady diet of games, no matter how monumentally ridiculous or inconsequential – including one, for example, which was called the San Diego County Credit Union Bowl (I’m not kidding… San Diego State “sank” the Midshipmen of Navy 35-14). And of course, bowl games just aren’t enjoyable without healthy quantities of beer and crackers and cheese and sausages and pizza and, well, you get the picture. College basketball was cranking up as well and provided a nice supplement for the rare hour not occupied by the Greater Peoria Retirement Home and Convalescent Center Bowl Games of the world.
We rented movies on the Apple TV, we bought and decorated our first Christmas tree, we went shopping, we entertained her family (they have introduced me to Poker – I’ve introduced them to Four Roses Bourbon… it was meant to be). We ate and drank with gusto and while Melissa dealt with the inevitable Catholic guilt over not working out, I was as giddy as a redneck on payday. The energy formerly dedicated to training for Cozumel was now replaced by the passionate pursuit of growing a belly. I gained twelve pounds. I grew a beard. I was intensely happy.
What started with margaritas on a golden Cozumel beach the day after the Ironman progressed through Christmas and culminated in a boisterous New Year’s Eve party with our triathlon friends, where we toasted our coach, celebrated the fun and accomplishments of 2010 and tried our best to ignore the swift approach of training that awaited us on January 2nd.
And then it was over. Hello, cold lap pool. Buenas dias, bike seat. Bonjour, running shoes.
We have been back at it for a month now. And, despite my initial protestations, I’m glad of it. I’m thankful that Melissa is as dedicated as she is. Left to my own devices I’d be a beer-swilling 5k guy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I used to be that guy and I enjoyed it. But I love this life and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Don’t think I’m not counting the days until this December though…