The Wisdom of A Clockwork Orange

“Welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, well. To what do I owe the extreme pleasure of this surprising visit?”

As I am working through my motivation issues, remembrances of lines from my favorite movie keep popping up in my head (some of you know I have done this before with “Fight Club” and “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy“). The mere fact that “A Clockwork Orange” is my all time favorite movie tells you more about my psyche than you really want to know and should probably warn you against posts like this, but you’re triathletes (for the most part), and I know you will power through this, and hopefully not emerge on the other side questioning whether or not you ought to be associating with me. 🙂

“Come with uncle,” I said, “and hear all proper. Hear angel trumpets and devil trombones. You are invited.”

All of the issues you have during training; the injuries, the self doubt, the lack of motivation, all seems to vanish on the morning of the race. Are you anxious? Oh yeah. Butterflies? Definitely. But when the horn sounds, the racer in you kicks in and by two or three strokes into the swim you are in race mode. Pain is not there any more. Will you have issues during the race? Of course. But unless it’s a serious injury, like a broken limb, or a mechanical issue that can’t be fixed, you’re going to soldier on. Because you’re a triathlete. A different breed of person. You’re not a runner. You’re not a cyclist. You’re not a swimmer. You’re all three. I have seen people carrying their bikes to finish the leg. You will finish if you have to crawl or they pull you from the course.

“Let’s get things nice and sparkling clear. This sarcasm – if I may call it such, is very unbecoming of you oh my brothers”

Detractors and naysayers abound. There will be people telling you that you’re crazy to be doing this stuff. “Why?” the will ask you, “Are you subjecting yourself to this daily regimen”. You’d answer, but you really don’t know the answer.

“Because,” you squeak out, “I have to.” It’s really the best answer you can offer.

The saddest part of this is the loudest naysayers are the ones closest to you. Your family. Your long time friends. They have become accustomed to you being fat, being slovenly, being lazy. They like you in this way. Anything outside of THIER comfort zone unnerves them. “You’re neglecting your family” they will say. “How are you spending any quality time with your son?” others will chime in. My answer to them is simple. When I woke up on May 17, 2010 and stepped on the scale and saw it pass 300 pounds, the first thing in my head, the FIRST thing, was my family.

“I am going to drop dead by the time I am 50,” was my first thought. “What are they going to do if I am gone?” was my second. “What kind of example am I setting for my (then) 15 year old son??”.

It may seem to outsiders that I am being selfish and only doing it for me, and while it is true I do a lot of it for me, the motivation at the beginning was to take care of myself so that I could be here 30 years from now to see my grandchildren.

If that is “being selfish”, well, then I am I guess. But seriously, I think being a fat, lazy slob that dies at 50 because they couldn’t do without the piece of cheesecake is the selfish one. He is now gone.

“Have you some new torture for me, you bratchny?” “Well, well, well, well. If it isn’t fat, stinking billygoat Billy-Boy in poison. How art thou, thy globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip-oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if you have any yarbles, you eunuch jelly thou.”

Don’t you just love coaches?

The good ones have a way of both building up your confidence and tearing you to pieces at the very same time. It’s kind of fun to witness (though a lot more fun to watch then to have it happening to you). It’s always fun to get that Sunday evening email with the weekly schedule from Meghan. The first reaction is always “OH MY GOD DOES SHE THINK I AM SUPERMAN???” which usually leads to an email from me.

Her answer?

“Just give it a try. If you can’t do it all, do what you can. Adjust it accordingly. You’ll be fine.”

And, of course, I always am fine. I can always do what she wrote down for me. She knows more about my ability than I do, and has shown a unique ability to see through my bullshit from time to time and call me on it.

Having a good training partner is paramount to this, and in this area I am lucky. My usual partner, Jenny, is always ready to go, always will to try the new thing (unless it is about weight training or eliminating Splenda from the diet). She pushes me when I cannot push myself, and I hope I do the same for her. I have also had others motivate and influence me, some in ways they are not even aware, some by pissing me off because they keep beating me (Dave Baldwin), some because they run so effortlessly, at least to me (Beth, Summer, Genna Beth, Teresa), some because the bike or swim (Kelly Ann) like demons, some because I know their struggles and they are still out there, and some because they are just friendly people and fun to be around. They all contribute in some way, and I am happy to have met them all through the past 5 years.

“What we were after now was the old surprise visit. That was a real kick and good for laughs and lashings of the old ultraviolence.”

Along with the coaching are the online forums that we all dutifully enter every aspect of our training into: Garmin Connect, Daily Mile, Twitter, FaceBook, MyFitnessPal, Training Peaks, Strava, Swim.com. The people in these forums will keep you on your toes. Miss logging a few days? Oh, you can expect a note from SOMEONE calling you on it. I got a response from a blog post once stating “…I have noticed your bike totals have gone down since the 70.3…”

What?? Someone is paying attention????

They called me on it, and they were right, and it motivates you to get off your ass and get back on the damn bike!!

I appreciate this kind of “kick in the yarbles”. Being held accountable is what works. It’s why being part of Team in Training works. You’re just not out there for you, you’re a part of a group, a team, that has a like minded goal, and they depend on you to be there, and be ready. Nothing motivates more than that team mentality.

“It’s funny how the colours of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.”

So there it is, my Triathlon version of A Clockwork Orange. Much like Alex felt when being made to watch violence at the same time as he was being made sick, the end result is that you are who you are, and you will adapt to accept any changes made to you in order to meet the true inner self.

I have been struggling recently with motivation. But what I need to find, and will find, was that burning desire to NOT be who I was becoming and find somewhere inside that 300 pound frame the younger man that I was. I wasted a good bit of my life in pursuits of things I had no business pursuing, and I have paid for them both mentally and physically. I hope that this change in my life the past 4 years did not come too late. My brother Michael said something to me once and it sticks in my head every day, especially when I start doubting and thinking I should just give up. We were talking one day about health, and the fact that we have both survived cancer scares (his was testicular, mine was thyroid) and why he has the hobbies and interests he has (he coaches and plays beach volleyball, mountain bikes, etc.).

He said “Johnny, I may die tomorrow, or next year, or in ten years, but when I die I don’t want it to be by something I could have prevented.”

At times, my brother can be a very wise man.

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