Last week, I was teaching my class about Julius Caesar and the Ides of March. There are several things I do surrounding this particular event, but the most unforgettable--I think--is when I share the story of what happened to me on the Ides of March, 2009, in Rome. It was Rome, Georgia, but let's not get bogged down in details. :-)
On March 14, 2009--okay, so it's not quite the Ides of March, but again, details--I was in a bike race on wet roads. The person in front of me slipped, and in trying to avoid him, I crashed into a tree on the side of the road at about 23 mph. I broke my clavicle and shattered my scapula. I spent four days in the hospital, had surgery to implant three plates, and missed a month of work. When I tell this story to my class, I fill it with all sorts of drama, and of course, I share pictures of myself pre- and post-surgery. At the end of class, I offer to take off my shirt for any student who wants to see the scars and feel the plates. There is usually a handful of students who want to check it out. Last year, a student wrote on his evaluation, "You should take off your shirt again."
This year, when I taught it, one student who stuck around to see the scars said, "Mr. Darden, you need to do some push-ups." My response, predictably, was "Donny, I'm the fittest person you know." (I'm sure that that's probably true, too.) Now, Donny could have been saying, "Mr. Darden, you need to do some push-ups because they will definitely improve your swim only three weeks from your first Ironman." Obviously, that's not what he meant. Rather, he was suggesting that I am out of shape. I'm not.
This is one of those comments that I will probably remember forever, much like Shakena's "Why you ain't never absent?" of 2003, Lindsey's, "You don't really care" of 2000, or Jocelyn's "You want us to fail" of 2006. It falls into a different category, though, since it was about my fitness rather than my teaching. Nonetheless, I found it particularly insulting. Last week, I swam more than four miles, I ran forty, and I biked about 130. What did you do, Donny???
Am I being oversensitive? Yes. Of that, there is no doubt. Donny's actually not a bad kid; I am not holding any grudge against him. And was my negative reaction borne out of the extreme tiredness I'm feeling right now? Undoubtedly, yes. If someone were to ask me how I'm feeling right now, less than two weeks before we leave for Cozumel, my answer would be "tired," closely followed by "excited."
Last night, for the second time in this training cycle, I failed to complete a trainer workout. I like trainer workouts, and I think that they greatly benefit my cycling. But a long, hard trainer workout is just too intense and difficult for me given the mental and physical fatigue I'm carrying right now. I'm sure that I will be fine; I did nearly an hour of work, and I quit before my performance started to trail off. Plus, I have a swim/bike brick on Saturday that features five hours on the tri bike. My running workout today will undoubtedly be better for having not tried to gut out a crappy workout last night, and I think that my cycling is just fine. I need to stop writing about it before it starts to sound like I'm rationalizing.
The exhaustion that I'm feeling right now is not the sort of "most pleasant exhaustion" that inspired the title of this blog. Rather, it's a sort of deep fatigue that has built up over the course of several weeks. My coach and I have been cautious not to over-train me, and I don't think that I am over-trained. It's just that part of getting ready for 140.6 self-propelled miles is getting really, really tired. Right now, I'm expecting to carry this fatigue until race week, when I'll taper, get lots of rest, and hit the starting line ready to explode. Correct? I surely hope so.