Saturday, April 6, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

Two things today.

First, some scuba pictures from when I went to the Great Barrier Reef weeks ago.  I've still not found the USB cord for my underwater camera, but I put on my thinking cap for a little (I haven't had my thinking cap on a whole lot lately) and devised a scheme whereby I could upload the pictures from that camera without a USB cord (in other words, I found a memory card reader in my dad's desk).  Here are a few, with some more at the end.  It wasn't terribly sunny and I'm not terribly gifted when it comes to photography, so these don't even come close to doing the reef justice, but oh well.
The sea was rough and that's why I almost puked.
Shark.  I remember him being bigger and scarier looking.


Second, a little update on life.

I guess I'm not technically the Traveling Triathlete anymore, so I've lost some of my story and will probably at some point need to put my thinking cap back on and come up with a new blog title and all that.  I'll do that later.   But I'm not going to stop updating my blog.  I've found that I really enjoy writing.  This has served as a bit of a journal for me, it's fun for me to look back at, it's kept me in better touch with family and friends, and it has allowed me to connect a little more with a lot of people I either fell out of touch with or didn't know all that well (or at all) in the first place.  I like these things.  My entries, from here on out, might not be full of so many pictures of exotic places, and the hits might decrease, but that's OK with me.  I'll try to be interesting and tell good stories and I may or may not succeed,  but I've got a pretty big doozy of a summer sitting in front of me, including quite a lot of travel and then topped by a little Hawaii trip, so I'm hoping life will still provide good material.
To keep with tradition, a picture of sheep I saw during my ride, except it doesn't look so cool in Ohio.
For now, I'm still in Ohio enjoying time with the family before I head back to Chicagoland.  My little brother, who's been going through the various phases of training required to become a real, full-fledged soldier, is home on leave having just finished his second round of sorta-boot-camp.  I don't understand the technicalities of it, but for the past six months, he's been in Texas, taking classes and still not getting a whole lot of freedom.  He had another graduation ceremony and of course finished first in his class (again) and of course got some sorta fancy-pants merit award for being a good leader (again), and now is off to D.C. where he will allegedly be treated more like a real adult and work in a medical lab.  My brother's one of those kind of people that....just when you think you couldn't be more proud of him, he goes off and does something even more awesome.  So having him around has lightened the mood in these parts, and it's been a treat.
Li'l Brudder home from the Army
My own readjustment into real life has been relatively painless.   I had a lot of fears about re-entry, but they've all proven to be fairly ridiculous worries.  I worried that I'd be jetlagged forever.  I'm not.  It took a few sleepless nights filled, of course, with relentless googling of "how do I immigrate to New Zealand?" but I'm now back on a fairly normal sleep schedule.  Sure, I stay up a little too late and sleep in a little too late, but that's a luxury I have right now and I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

I worried I'd struggle with the switch to right-side driving and do something stupid.  I haven't.  I've been fine, save for a few very minor incidents.   I worried I'd miss everything about New Zealand.   I do (sorta), but there's a ton of things about the States that I realized I missed as well.  I worried that when it came to thinking about my career, I'd freak out and feel completely lost and panicked.  I'm not.  I'm not going to talk about it here, at least not for a while, but things are falling into place on that front and in a pretty big way, I'm looking forward to getting back to work and expending my mental energy on things that don't involve swimming, biking, running, or flying on airplanes.
Columbus from a bike path that did not exist when I left in 2003.
As for that swimming, biking, and running thing....I worried about that, too.  I worried that in my last few weeks in Australia and New Zealand, I'd let myself get completely out of shape, and that I'd arrive back in Ohio slow, discouraged, and perhaps worse, lacking motivation.   In reality, I've unexpectedly gotten my triathlon mojo back.  After a couple days of panic when every swim, bike and run felt slow and hard and the days until my first post-mid-season break race seemed so few, something just clicked with me.  I can't explain it, but like a light switching on, I suddenly just stopped panicking and, instead, accepted where I am right now.  Yes, I'm a little slow; yes, I'm in the worst shape I've been in in a while;  yes, I've got a long ways to go....but for some reason that doesn't bother me anymore.  I'm working hard, I'm getting stronger every day, and I'm actually enjoying it.

It's sort of fun tackling workouts that were once easy but no longer are, pushing myself as hard as I can to the point that I sit in the hot tub post-swim a little dazed, a little confused, a lot nauseous, and knowing that I'm going to see quick results despite the lower watts, the slower splits, the leisurely paces.  Perhaps I'm not explaining it well, but there's a freedom in being able to say "tomorrow, I'm going to be stronger than I am today," and fully, 100% believing it because really, there's no place to go but up.
Almost every day I walk past my favorite building (OSU Stadium) and swim in the bestest pools ever
In a way, I feel like the end of my trip brought the triathlon mojo back.  I think it's perspective.  Now that I'm forced to start thinking again about other things in career, my future, my relationships, my finances, my home...I fixate on triathlon a little less and, in turn, like it a little more.  Yeah, it's only been a little over a week since I got home, but I'm feeling good about this.  I'm feeling more like my pre-trip self-- the one who absolutely loved the training and the sport because it was a release from life, and not the only thing in life.  I really think, for me, that's the way it has to be.

At any rate, life is good.  It's cold, and I don't enjoy scraping frost off my windshield, and my toes were so frozen after my ride today that it took almost an hour (including a 30 minute run) to regain feeling, and there's no pretty mountains or oceans to look at.....but I'm really, really happy to be home.



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