Thursday, May 15, 2014

Transitions: Turning over

People transition differently. But we all have to do it.
Triathletes spend the least amount of time training for transitions, but when you think about it, the transition area is a symbolic place where we actually spend a lot of time agonizing over our race. We spend so much time worrying about how to transition - what to wear, what to eat, when to apply sunscreen? Will be get out of our wet suit without a calf cramp? Will my neighbor have racked their bike too close? When do I mount my bike? How fast can I lace my running shoes?

Typically, when you leave the transition area to start the swim, your area is perfectly set up with everything in place that you could need for the day. But, when you actually go through the transition - it's a total cluster f@#$ mess. Your legs have been swimming/biking for so long that you can barely run, you are trying to remember where to go, and there are other people running all over the place - everyone is trying to get out of there as quickly as possible. It's easy to leave important items behind, or go through the "Run out" shoot still wearing a bike helmet.

Another difficult part of the transition is what I like to call the 'turn over'. Although you are physically out of the transition area, you are now asking your body to become accustomed to doing another activity. It's a strange feeling, and no matter how good of a cyclist or runner you think you are, riding in wet clothes, and pounding the pavement after being on a bike just feels strange. Sometimes it can be a little painful. I've definitely almost fallen over while mounting my bike, or had numb toes for the first few miles of a run. It doesn't feel good. I like to do brick workouts in order to be prepared for the uncomfortable sensation of switching events, but the strangeness never quite goes away completely. It takes a couple of miles before I feel adjusted to the new movements in my body.

Life transitions are harder because you aren't well trained for them. Moreover, it's possible you didn't even sign up for this shit. Or, if you are lucky, you believe this transition will lead to better things. Sometimes it takes months or even years to even get into a transition. But, eventually you know, you can't swim forever - you've got to get out - especially when there are sharks in the water. It doesn't matter how right, or impactful the decision might be: it's still chaotic and painful. Like your transition area - it was fine when you left it, and now you can't find anything, or you can't decide what to take and what to leave behind.

Even after you make the change, part of you still longs to be back where you were, doing what you were once comfortable doing. Like turning over in an event, there is the part of the transition where you think you are doing okay, and everything feels pretty good. Suddenly, you get a cramp or a side stitch and you feel like you can't go any further. You tend to talk negatively to yourself, but the thought of giving up is not an option - you must keep going. Usually you reach out for something to console you - food, or a friend.

The other issue with life transitions is other people. In individual sports, you only worry about yourself in relationship to your competitors. In life, every decision you make in transition can affect others as much as it affects you.

But the fact remains, you have to move on. The race is not over.

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