Race week mantra: Chop wood, carry water

rain water flowing on West Harpeth Road during Sunday's ride

rain water flowing on West Harpeth Road during Sunday’s ride

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

I wake up thinking about it. I try to put it out of my mind – focus on the tasks of the day, being present in the moment, breathing deep. But its there. I remember the pain I’ll feel, and I remember the joy of another journey completed. It’s hard to put it out of your mind.

It’s Rev3 Knoxville race week. 70.3 miles lay ahead of me this weekend.

I think back on my previous half’s and at some point that voice that says “never again” has entered my head. But this is the 5th time. The truth is, I love that moment – when it gets so thick with pain and suffering, that my body and my mind triumph over that voice.

I’m tapering this week. A process that’s harder than training. Like all of my previous races I’ve put in long training hours, many of them done when I simply did not want to be doing them. Your mind becomes accustomed to that grind. It becomes calloused to the inner voice that prefers comfort. That same voice.

Hard work becomes as natural, and as needed, as eating and sleeping. I believe you train the mind more than you train the body.

I’ve been doing triathlons for 12 years. I’ve learned that my body and my mind need a hard taper – meaning I need rest, mental and physical, not “slightly scaled back” training. During my taper week I try to let go. I don’t stop completely, but my runs become much shorter, my swimming even shorter, and cycling stops completely. Maybe it’s the wrong approach, but it’s how I do it. My mind resists at first.

But race week means taper week.

I consider the metaphor in my life.

A significant scaling back of my attachment to the world I’m comfortable in. It’s a hard lesson – only understood by those who have experienced it.

I’m happy this week though. Ridding myself of fatigue and doubt, focusing on the task that lies before me on Sunday morning at 6:55am when I set forth.

The Buddhist phrase “Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water” echoes in my head. It means several different things to me – all of which – by some scholarly definition, may be wrong. But this Sunday in Knoxville it will be my race mantra:

Chop wood: Work hard

Carry water: Focus on the task

I want to put all else out of mind as I cover the miles. No pain, no doubt, no weakness. Only chop wood, carry water.

I’m a Christian,  and not a Buddhist, but I think we can learn from one another and this imagery somehow resonates with me.

I love you,

– Daddy


Sat: Swam 1500 / Ran 3

Sun: Biked 30 miles

Mon: REst

Tues: Swam 1000 / Ran 3.5