Monday. All weekend I kept thinking of that Burns quote “the best laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry.” I”m exhausted and even though I’ve been getting seven hours of sleep I just can’t seem to rest. My Dad is in the hospital and I rushed up to CT on Friday. He had to have a stint put in the main artery to his heart. He seemed okay after the procedure. They wanted to keep him overnight for observation. I thought he looked pretty good. My brothers and I proceeded to reorganize the house to make everything easier for him. I was tired but okay. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get any workout in on Saturday but my plan for Sunday was to pick up my Dad, get him home and hit the trails for 2 hours. Yeah, right. That didn’t happen. This is the first time I have been exhausted since Thanksgiving.
Sunday we went to pick him up. Everything seemed okay (he didn’t look as good as he had on Saturday) but they were ready to let him go home. We were delayed while waiting for the visiting nurse association to call us back. While we were waiting he had some kind of seizure and lost consciousness. I was suddenly in an episode of ER. People pushing us out of the room. Nurses and Doctors flooding in from everywhere. I sent the rest of my family to the waiting room and I stood by hoping to catch a glimpse of my Dad but they just drew the curtain shut and 4 doctors and 4 nurses were all around the bed. They said he would be okay, not to worry but they would keep him another night. Ya think? All I could think of was what would have happened if we were on the way home in my car? I don’t know what I would have done.
By the time we got home it was late afternoon, family coming over to welcome Dad home. Where’s Dad? Questions, questions, questions. I’m exhausted. I can’t answer any more questions. We call the hospital, he is doing okay, sleeping. I am sure everything will be fine when I go back to pick him up this morning. Let me just sleep.
I had such hopes of trying to get a run in or something to help de-stress if nothing else. I’m just too tired. I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired, I got 7 hours sleep each night. I realized it was mental stress taking its toll. You don’t really sleep if your mind is turning, turning, turning. Okay, I get it mental stress. You will just need to meditate a little more. I laughed at myself. Problem – fix. That’s how I think. It’s actually a very male trait. I’m much like my dad Mr. Fix-it I used to call him. He used to be able to fix ANYTHING. Cars, dishwashers, broken furniture, plumbing, electrical outages, furniture — there wasn’t anything he could build, fix or remodel. I’m not quite as good as he was but I have the same approach to life, what’s the problem? Here’s the fix. The more I have to wallow in stuff the more depressed and unhappy I get. Intangible problems are the worst for me. Give me a computer to fix, no problem. Wait while they fix my Dad? Not so good. Come to think of it, I’m just not good at waiting, period.
In some attempt to gain control over my disintegrating weekend I kept fantasizing that all was not lost. I was sure I would fit a 2 hour bike in at midnight. I’ll get up at 5 a.m. and run in the dark. That’s what the really tough people do. They have kids and jobs and they get up at 4:30 in the morning and run in the dark. I have everything here now that I need to train. I have my old bike Sylvia who I brought in from the barn last night. (I think she was smugly smiling at me as if to say “I told you I would not be left out here for long. Where are those fancy New York bikes now?”) I have my bike trainer that had already been in my car for training camp. I have running shoes, yoga tapes. Everything I need. I can remodel the house, drive to the hospital, monitor my Dad, look after my mother and train for an Ironman. Oh and I’ll make sure to make a donation to the people in Haitti too. But right now I’m exhausted so I can’t even think about doing anything but going back to bed. I propped the bike against the wall. I’ll come back later.
I keep redoing my workout schedule in my head. Okay you missed 4 hours on Saturday and 2+ hours on Sunday. You can do two hours here and two hours there. Oh but then we’ll be into Tuesday and I have to do those workouts and forget it I’m so far behind I’ll never catch up. I keep thinking what to do? What to do? How do I fix this problem of having lost time and being exhausted. But training for an Ironman. What would I tell someone else? What would I tell one of my WW buddies? I think of my friend who is just out of surgery for a hysterectomy. I think of my other friend who lives for rubgy (girls of a different generation) and is hobbling around on crutches with a repaired ACL. I think of all my friends going through one illnesses or stress after another and think what would I tell them?
First and foremost, I would say.
1. Prioritize and get perspective. There is no doubt in my mind that taking care of my Dad and family is more important than any Ironman. That said, training can be a great release and actually make you feel better. There are people in Haitti with much bigger problems. Don’t dwell on this, let it come in it’s own time. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:”
Then I would say,
2. be realistic. 4 hours may just not be a realistic number. 20 minutes may be all you get in the day and if that’s what you get, that’s what you get. Take your 20 and be grateful. Take as many 20’s as you can get.
3. It’s doesn’t have to be perfect. ARGGGHHH….. You know that one is killing me. KILLING ME! Everyone keeps talking about Agassi book and how that’s what his coach kept trying to tell him. That’s what weightwatchers keeps saying too (I might be kicked out if they saw what I ate at the hospital this weekend.) I know, I know I don’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But I like perfect. I like checking off those little, done, done, done boxes. If I do everything on the workout plan I will finish Ironman. If I don’t well, then I don’t have any right to complain about the outcome. If I can’t be perfect than I’d rather be totally imperfect which is another blog in itself. Let perfect go. Just keep trying you’ll get 75% and that will be fine. It does not have to be either 4 hour workout OR bottle of scotch and mallomars. There is a whole world of grey inbetween. (No I did not have scotch and mallomars. But let’s just say there have been moments in the past that I have combined into one memory for illustrative purposes only.)
4. A corollary to #3 is forgive. It’s almost as hard. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Forgive the sales clerk for not being as fast as you would like her to be because maybe if she processed that prescription 15 minutes faster that would have been 15 minutes you could have done something productive. It doesn’t all have to be productive. Forgive everyone. Most important forgive yourself. Punishment does not help, it just makes everything more painful for everyone.
5. Rest and try again. Go ahead and go back to sleep. You may feel better in a couple of hours and then maybe you can do a little something later. I keep thinking I have to do this 2 hour run. Well maybe it would be better to get 1:15 of sleep and then 45 minutes of run. Exercising while tired is self-defeating.
6. Be opportunistic. Take the stairs when you see them. Choose to walk over drive. Throw a couple of squats in here and there. Lots of little things add up to… well… not a lot, but lots of little things smooshed together.
9. Be grateful. For all the stress and striving there are many blessings.
10. Read some poetry and feed your soul.
To A Mouse.
On turning her up in her nest with the plough,
by Robert Burns November 1785.
Small, sleek, cowering, timorous beast,
O, what a panic is in your breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!
I doubt not, sometimes, but you may steal;
What then? Poor beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.
Your small house, too, in ruin!
It’s feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse grass green!
And bleak December’s winds coming,
Both bitter and keen!
You saw the fields laid bare and wasted,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel plough past
Out through your cell.
That small bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter’s sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.
But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leaves us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!