You want my opinion? There's very little in this life that a decent bike ride won't fix.
For me, yesterday was rough. For whatever reason, I hit The Wall Thursday afternoon on my ride back to the 125th Street train station from my office. I'd put in a 5.1-mile run at a late lunch Thursday afternoon following a marathon conference call, so that when I got onto my foldie an hour and a half later to start the trip home, I was already tired. I then rode straight into the wind--and mostly uphill--for the roughly 3-miles it takes to get from W. 66th Street to 110th,where I turn right and head into Harlem. Well, at the top of the hill, I felt something snap and break off inside me, and I hadn't really been the same since. Then I got home and found Sally more-or-less passed out from her little bought with the Flu, meaning that I once again had to make dinner, get the kids fed, washed and then off to bed, do the dishes, and make my lunch for Friday all by myself. Needless to say, this did not make me happy. I will say--charitably--that I struggled to be a good spouse Thursday night.
Fortunately, Friday was already a planned Rest Day. That said, I still woke up feeling like crap and then had to slog through the day with that feeling hanging over me. But yesterday passed, and now it's Saturday. I woke up with a ripping headache but besides that felt a little better. 'Course we had Tri practice this morning, and me being the Tri coach, I can't just skip practice--no matter how much I wanted to.
So I got geared up, grabbed my bike, and rode over to the Y. It's about 9-miles to the Y, I rode another 11-miles with the team, and then back home--a total of about 29-miles. And I feel better now, I really do, but in the back of my mind, I know I need to put in about 6-miles of running tomorrow, and I'm not gonna lie. I'm kind'a dreading it.
My point in all this? That none of this is normal.
A normal person does not drive himself into the ground--on purpose--on Thursday because he knows he's gonna be able to take Friday off, especially when he knows how rough that Friday is gonna be after having been driven into the ground the day before. A normal person does not then get up early on Saturday to go for a long ride, especially if he wakes up with what feels like the start of a migraine (it wasn't, thankfully, despite the spots in my vision). And if a normal person were to do all that, they certainly wouldn't push the hills on the last 9-miles of the ride. I mean, that right there would be totally insane.
My point here is that I think normal, well-adjusted people don't, I don't think, drive themselves quite this hard. No, something's got to be a little off in a person's life to make one capable of punishing oneself enough to actually become the best athlete that he or she can possibly be. Happy people don't become champions. Champions have to be driven to be that good.
The thing that's driving them? Not butterflies and rainbows, I can promise you that.
All of which is to say that I wasn't overly surprised when reviews of champion swimmer Amanda Beard's book came out, detailing her struggles with depression, bulimia, bad guys, and lots and lots of other crap. I mean, yeah. Why do you think she was in the pool all the time? If she was like me, she was trying to get the mad out. And given how much better than me she was in the pool, I can only imagine how much worse the pain must have been for her.
In any event, I'm glad that Beard seems to have found a better place in her life. I'm working on that, too, but I know that at least for me, it still helps to get the mad out--and that I need to do it pretty much every day to stay grounded and balanced.
So anyway, now I'm curious , fellow athletes. What drives you? Can you work from a place of happiness and contentment, or are you like me, and you need to get a good "mad" on to have a really top-notch workout? And do you think championship caliber athletes can be... happy?