Monday, November 12, 2007

Running thoughts = no sleep

Hello Pensacola!

Nathaniel and I rolled in this afternoon after a long drive from Tampa. The cat was really happy to see us, although Nate denied that he missed her at all. Instead, he said, "Hi Bozo - your Mom missed you!" And then promptly teared up. And then blamed it on "allergies". No way around it, he loves our cat.

Our FAT cat.

Tabbitha - to our horror, gained a few pounds (note the plural) in our absence. Because we were only gone for a few days, we figured our cat wouldn't need a sitter. As long as we left the tap water running a little, put out more than enough food, and made sure her box was clean, we figured she would be okay.

We were mistaken.

It seems that Tabbitha is an emotional eater. While we were gone, she filled the void with food. Lots of food. So much, so that when Nathaniel weighed her, she was a full 21 pounds! No longer our 18.2 pound "little girl". Holy. Cow. Our cat is now the size of a tiger cub. Or a bobcat. Great - now she's got anger issues and she's larger than a bowling ball. A bowling ball with fangs, claws, and a bad attitude.

"Well, at least she carries it well, " Nathaniel said after the weigh-in, ever the optimist. I was (and still am) utterly horrified. Tabbitha looks as though she swallowed herself.

Other than that, it's great to be home.

The drive was long, and we amused ourselves by listening to bad radio, making words out of random licence plate letters, reading out loud from John Grisham's "Playing for Pizza", and discussing our favorite things from this past weekend. (Nathaniel's favorite part was seeing my reaction when I saw the race results. My favorite part was watching Nathaniel get emotional while watching the Packers beat Minnesota and drinking his favorite beer - Sam Adam's Octoberfest - on tap at a restaurant in St. Petersburg. A Packers victory and great beer! Score!!)

Which makes me realize how much more "normal" I feel after a race. It seems like life has finally settled down, the pressure is off, and I really get to kick back and enjoy life. Not that I don't enjoy myself while competing, training, and racing - but spending an extra day in the Tampa/Clearwater/St. Petersburg area without having to worry about a race was simply marvelous. Life looks different from a post-race perspective. Hell, not just post-race, but post-season. It was wonderful to take in the beautiful area, great culture, vivacious community, and great food/spirits without a race lurking in the background. Strolling along The Pier in downtown St. Petersburg, arm-in-arm with Nathaniel, taking in the wonderful sights and sounds was amazing.

The funny part, is that even though the race is done and the season is "officially" over, my mind is still at work. A constant murmur in the background of ceaseless thoughts and relentless ideas. A polemic, perhaps. Definitely a running dialogue. I keep replaying aspects of the race, mini-vignettes from this past season, and thinking about various topics that I can't yet seem to define. I feel like I'm trying in vain to grasp a wisp of smoke with my bare hands. I can see the smoke, I am aware of its presence, am trying to grab hold of it - but with each attempt I make, it disappears and I remain unfulfilled. I have so many thoughts bouncing around in my head, like a game of pinball - 10 points for hitting the red hearts, 20 for bouncing off the yellow flower, and 100 for getting the ball in the hole!

If ever I needed a long run to clear my head, it would be now. But as my calves are still a little painful, and I'm headed to the massage therapist (aka "torture chamber") tomorrow, it'll have to wait.

In the meantime, my mind is hyperactive. What my body is unable to do, my mind is working double, even triple time. Which makes sleep difficult. After 4 hours on Saturday night and 7 on Sunday, I can feel the fatigue. Yet my mind is still at work - picking things apart, poking around in one corner, while prodding another idea from a different angle. It is a very surreal feeling - usually my body is tired from training and my mind is a bit subdued after a big effort. But this is different - yes I'm tired, but my brain still has work to do, ideas to contemplate, and thoughts still to be processed.

So Who Needs Sleep? according the the Barenaked Ladies - not me!

Welcome to the off season. The transition.

I guess this is just a part of the process. I feel like I've got unfinished business, and my body is trying to react in any possible way. The wheat thins, peanut butter cups, and bottle (okay, 2 bottles!) of wine were great - but life moves on, yet I'm still struggling to catch up to the present. I know it'll take time, and being home is a great start. Life returns to normal, and I'll eventually find myself.

But it may take a while. Hopefully I won't pull a Tabbitha in the process. It'll just take a few hours (or days) to clear my head, get the thoughts out, and truly embrace my off season. In the meantime, I should probably lay off the coffee.

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