There’s been a lot of radio silence over here in Fleshmania. The Fleshmanian people have started to grow disgruntled, talks of an impending intervention have been overheard on forest trails.
- Where the hell is Fleshman?
- Why hasn’t she answered my 1,208 ALF questions?
- Is she retiring from running to hand-carve butterfly necklaces?
- Is she sitting in a cave somewhere in the Oregon mountains smoking ganja and finding her life’s purpose?
- Will Picky Bars be on Shark Tank? Will Mark Cuban invest in their company so they can sell in the UK and Canada and lower their prices to $.50?
This blog should help clear things up. It is about what I really really want, which of course, is a zig-a-zig-ah.
Here’s the deal.
Leading into Olympic Trials, I didn’t let myself think about the “after.” The energy it took to get from day to day, managing my IT band, running three minutes at a time with walk breaks, constantly evaluating the edges of what I could ask of my body…there was no space in my brain for planning the future.
For future reference, pretending there is no future is a f*%@ing awesome coping mechanism. You should try it! It essentially melts fear. “What if I get last?” loses its meaning. The only reason getting last is scary is because of what it means after the race. If last place truly is your best effort, and your best effort is what you are aiming for, then you win even when you lose.
Not that I want to make a habit of being last or anything…but I wouldn’t take back my decision to race for anything. The Olympic Trials was magical for me, in a Princess Bride fire-swamp kind of way. I experienced the worst (fire explosions, quicksand, and ROUS’s), adapted survival tactics, made the final?!?! and was bolstered by the cheesy power of love in the form of family, my support crew, and all you wonderful people.
Like Wesley said in Princess Bride upon being captured by Humperdink, “We could live quite comfortably there for some time.”
And then it was over. I gave some interviews with vague answers about my future (cuz I had no effing clue) and then I did what I always do when I’m “lost:” get in my van (or on a plane) and get “lost-er.” My vacation plan was simple: let my body heal completely, see beautiful things, spend time with people I love, spend time alone, and don’t make any decisions until it feels right.
I’ll tell you what: I might get an “F” for my Olympic Year Preparation Plan, but I got an “A+” in my recovery plan.
I got to just live my life for a few months with no agenda, blowing in the breeze. Through all the adventures, I grieved the loss of another Olympic Cycle and released it. I didn’t have to talk myself into seeing the positive side; time showed it to me, nice and clear.
So many emails, Facebook messages, and letters came to me from people (you know who you are) who took a minute to lift me up, and that helped give shape and structure to this budding new perspective. Thank you.
So what is the result of all that new age-y shiz?
What started as a blurry, unidentifiable mass of a future moved closer and closer to me over time, and now has edges and detail and color. I can practically smell what I want.
Do I want to retire? F*ck no!
Do I want a break? Hell’s yes!
And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the Olympics define my career, cuz you know what? It’s JUST A RACE!
This is my four year plan:
1. Get busy and have a kid.
2. Take advantage of the entire year to work on becoming bulletproof. Address all the weaknesses I simply can’t address when on a pro athlete racing timeline (rehab and strength work).
3. Build up my running gradually at the rate my body allows.
4. Blog bi-weekly.
5. Write a monthly column in a magazine that makes people laugh, cry, and shake their head, sometimes simultaneously.
6. Write a book that doesn’t suck.
7. Move to Bend, OR where the sun shines and there’s so many trails you’ll want to throw up.
1. Train competitively and re-enter the broader racing world.
2. Go outside my little track bubble and spend the year experiencing all kinds of races, getting a feel for where the heart of our sport is. Trails, roads, you name it. Seriously, you name it.
3. Carry a baby around somehow through all this. Get a good sling. Or a wife. Hire an intern.
4. Stay healthy, get more bulletproof, race in interesting places, cheer on Jesse in his triathlons, meet lots of people, have tons of fun, and write about it.
5. Win a Pulitzer Prize for my book and invite “The Aviator” to accompany me to the awards ceremony (first Leo DeCaprio, and if he’s busy, Jesse Thomas).
1. Get in frighteningly good shape so people are like “What?! You have a BABY! Shut up!”
2. Try not to kill my then 2 year old.
3. Come back to the track world, and work towards getting my times into familiar territory.
4. Take a shot at bettering my 7th at Worlds.
5. Go for a run with Michelle Obama while Jesse dunks on Barack, saying “Let’s move, bitches!”
6. Teach Dakota Fanning to run without looking like a spaz so she can play a young me in the movie directed by Ron Howard based on my book.
1. Be so strong and athletic, you could be me for Halloween and terrify people.
2. Perfect my racing tactics.
3. Kick ass a little more each month.
4. Qualify for the Olympics.
Chew on that! Oh yeah, and I’ve decided to part ways with Nike, peaceably, and spend the next few months identifying my dream support team and preparing to make magic happen with them. Boom.
More on that next time.
And in case you missed it the first time around…you’re welcome.