Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Vacilador

A Steinbeck soaked introspective.

I have to admit, after much ballyhoo and hype, my running has been a bit vacilar this summer. For you rubes not familiar with obscure references to John Steinbeck novels, I’ll let him describe vacilar:
It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere but doesn’t greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction.
Yep, that pretty much describes my running this summer, at least, as far as pursuing PR’s.

This comes from Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” which is NOT the book in which the mentally ill man is shot to death for being…mentally ill (among other things). Can you imagine writing that book – “Of Mice and Men” – these days? Sarah Palin would have a conniption fit and demand an apology. Most of you would probably feel better if I ended the literary references right there but you’ll be greatly disappointed. There’s a ton more to go and none of them are Stephenie Meyer or involve romantic, shirtless vampires so try to stick with me.

As I’ve mentioned, I have been out there training and training hard this summer. But do you know what makes this year different than previous years? I haven’t really written out a run schedule since the Bayshore Marathon. It seems, after several years of running now, my body just goes on auto-pilot, puts on shoes at the same time on the same day each week, and heads out the door like I’m Lenny the farm hand used to following orders. Oh, there’s a race coming up? I vaguely have an idea that I should increase mileage at a certain point and maybe do a few more 800’s. But I can’t be bothered to look at a calendar and actually map these things out. I’m too busy petting my rabbits and dreaming of a better run to notice that shotgun aimed at the back of my head.

I have a half-marathon coming up in one month and I just realized that my Sunday long runs should be longer than I’ve been doing. Oops. This weekend, I compared my training log against last year’s training log, since I’ll be running the same half-marathon, and noticed that I really haven’t done anything different either in pace or distance than at this same point last summer. In other words, I’m primed to NOT PR yet another race (though I’m prepared to come in around the exact same time.)

My ambitious Y.A.K. plan provided general direction for the year but clearly I don’t greatly care whether or not I get that PR. Year of the Ass Kicker? More like Year of the Vacilador. I’m going somewhere but, about that PR, eh, who cares if I get there? I’ve been enjoying the journey without regard to the destination.

Maybe I need a running coach* to keep me focused on the destination as well as the journey. Like dim-witted** Lenny, perhaps I need George to provide the dream of a farm loaded with PR’s that we’d get to one day own. In my dreams, the PR’s would gather at my feet clucking and bobbing their little PR heads like a bunch of hungry chicks. I’d feed them with the sweat from my successful runs completed off my George designed training plan. They’d grow tall and plump until I’d feel they are ready to trot out for the next 4-H fair. There’d always be room for more PR’s on the farm as I’d simply add onto the barn or maybe expand the fence range. George would keep me moving in the right direction, to supply me with rabbits, and dreams, and soft, shiny training plans for me to touch…to stroke…to love until OH GOD I DESTROYED THE TRAINING PLAN WITH MY CLUMSY STROKING.


BAM! Thud.

Happy trails.

*I’m kidding. Unless you are a top athlete, you don’t need a running coach. Seriously, when’s the last time you heard about Softball Guy practicing with his softball coach or pick-up Hoops Guy going to the gym to knock out a training session prepared by his basketball coach? I don’t know what is up with amateur, recreational runners and their “coaches” (i.e. internet certification). That’s as pretentious as, say, quoting Steinbeck while insulting a popular modern writer.
**Sorry Sarah.


Viper said...

Yes, you declared the Year of the Ass Kicker without a plan to kick ass. That was indeed dim-witted. Trig is not impressed.

The Merry said...

Actually, I think shiny vampire novels are an excellent motivator. I mean, if you were being chased by Team Whoever fanatics who wanted to rend you limb from limb because they just found out that you don't revere their heroes... or worse still, who wanted to sit you down and make you watch all the movies... hey, that's an excellent motivation to run away very quickly.

Spike said...

Just so I’m clear: your preparation and training beats down your PR goals the way Charles whoops Adam? Then what is Cathy?

zbsports said...

I like the post so nice. Good job!!!

Reluctant Runner said...

I just finished The Grapes of Wrath and I'm sincerly grateful that you weren't using GOR metaphors in this post. I don't like to think what you'd do with the breastfeeding scene at the end.

Also, I am working with a coach this summer, so I am deeply offended by your postscript. You are no longer my favourite blogger for, like, the next little while.

Adam said...

I'm with you on the coaching epidemic. But, I would by lying if I said that I hadn't thought about it before. I'm a tight ass so they would more serve as motivation to "get my moneys worth" by getting out the door and doing what I should have done all along.