Wednesday, September 15, 2010

guilt, envy and bicycles

The Pineywoods Purgatory, a local bike ride that I've done for the past two years, is October 2nd. The first year I did the 25 mile ride, the second I did the 50. This year, I was going to attempt the 102 mile route, so as to complete my New Year's Goal (do a century ride) and redeem myself after calling it quits on the Hotter'N'Hell Hundred in August.

The Tyler Half Marathon, which I ran last year as my first half marathon, is the following weekend - October 10th. I also wanted to run this hilly, challenging route for a second time and beat my time from last year (2:10). Because of money issues (I'm on a frugal kick and rebuilding our budget - more on that later) and because I haven't ridden my bike since, oh, July, the choice seems simple. I should forgo the Purgatory, focus on the half, and enjoy the race guilt free.

But this is me we're talking about. And me? I'm the Queen of Guilt.

I can't do anything without feeling as if I should be doing something else, or something more. I feel guilty over eating pretzels instead of a banana. I feel guilty for hanging out with one set of friends instead of the other. I feel guilty for not making my bed in the morning, for not paying enough attention to Seamus, for forgetting to call my mother for the third week in a row, for not blogging five days a week. When I was a kid, I felt guilty for always putting on my right shoe first, and henceforth alternated right and left so the left foot wouldn't get jealous. Hey, I didn't say I was normal. I just said I was guilty. I'm also jealous of people who seem to breeze through life, making decisions without agonizing over the path not taken. People, what is your secret? Please tell me.

Until I learn those secrets, I know what I need to do. I need to stop feeling guilty and accept the fact that a century ride is not in my immediate future. I'm not ready, I don't want to risk injury, and I just don't have the time to devote to that kind of training. Maybe one day, but not now. Another thing I'm not ready for (since we're being all confessional here)? A triathlon. Remember in the spring, when I was regularly biking, swimming and running? I got to the point where I could swim a mile without stopping. I even did a few brick workouts - bike rides, followed immediately by a run. And then... nothing. My pool closed for the summer and driving to the Boys and Girls club was just the excuse I needed to stay in bed. I focused on a century ride instead, and we know how that turned out. And even though I feel immense guilt about having no immediate plans to complete a triathlon (guilt! again! of course!) the guilt is not enough to get me back in the pool, or recommit myself to working out twice a day. If I did that, so many other things would suffer. My dogs, my relationships, my cooking, my fiction class, my writing. Event though this quote is about living frugally, it applies to all the things I've been rambling about in this blog post.
Many of the biggest choices we make in our lives close a lot of them. The choice to get married (or not). The choice to have children (or not). The choice to chase a certain career path. The choice to leave college. Yes, sometimes those choices open a lot of other doors for us, but often, our regret is mired in the doors that we’ve closed.
I love races, new challenges, and fitness goals. But my life is more than how far I can ride my bike or how many workouts I can cram into one day. When I read all these blogs written by apparent Superwomen, the guilt begins to surface. I feel like I'm not doing enough. Eating enough quinoa, running enough miles, pushing myself hard enough. But of course comparing yourself to others never ends well. We all have different goals, different paths that we're traveling down. I want to run marathons, but I also want to write novels. I want to go to the lake on the weekends and bake cookies. I want to travel, and raise two happy, healthy dogs, and spend time with my friends, and practice yoga, and drink beers at the park. I need to remember that my fitness goals are only one part of my life, and that I don't let them eclipse all the other goals I have, which are just as important.

Short version: I'm not going to do the Purgatory this year. And I'm okay with that, even if I still feel guilty. And now you know why. :)


  1. Let's train for a century together next year. I will even bear your guilt if it never happens. Easy peasy!

  2. You are still the bee's knees in my book either way.

  3. I enjoy following your training on DM.
    Not riding the PWP sounds like a good call. Forcing yourself to ride 100 miles (especially a hilly 100) without enough training might turn you off to cycling for a long time.
    After you set a PR in the 1/2 Marathon, riding the bike will seem like a vacation.
    You're fortunate to have a variety of ways to train that you enjoy.

  4. To me you're one of those Superwomen anyway! You have so many goals and seem to follow through on more than most.

  5. I love that you can learn and grow as a person even when (seemingly) failing or not accomplishing a goal. So many people choose the path of griping and complaining. You simply acknowledge that you haven't achieved your goal but that you got something out of it for trying anyway. As they say down under: Good on ya'!

  6. GUILT! I'm half Jewish, half Italian Catholic...guilt is my middle name. I feel like I could have written this blog post myself! Something I am bad about remembering, and which R is quick to remind me of when I'm beating myself up for not running further, faster, or more frequently, is that this stuff we do is supposed to be fun! Yes some hard workouts, sure, but if it's not ultimately fun, if it's a punishment, why do it? I recently decided (and then secretly undecided but I had already posted it and it was for good reasons) to not run a full marathon until after I am licensed in my profession. Despite 5 years of grad school and those 3 magical initials after my name, licensure is a whole level of hell Dante neglected. I can't do both. Or I can't do both well and contnue to enjoy running. It would become a chore, not a release. It sounds like you are making similar decisions. I'm with you.

  7. I'm half Italian and an ex-Catholic, so I hear you! And thanks to all of you for your kind comments. It's hard to admit that I am not going to reach a goal, but somehow you all make it a little easier. :)

  8. "When I read all these blogs written by apparent Superwomen, the guilt begins to surface."

    Confession: I feel this way sometimes when I read your blog! I don't even want to know about the blogs you've been reading if they make YOU feel like you don't do enough!