Monday, March 13, 2006

Somethin' to think about

Rest day, I heart you.

But why must you be 66 degrees? Can't that be later this week? Hey, I'll take it though. Mugsy, Matt and I enjoyed the weather today even if I didn't do a workout. :)

Work was insanity today. Kids are taking state-mandated proficiency tests (ugh) and in general it's not much fun, for them and for us. So I did some classic running-around-like-a-nutcase this morning but managed to get all my stuff done. Whew! I feel quite tired today and I didn't even do any IM related stuff. Guess that means a rest day was needed! This weather has me feeling some spring fever BIG TIME. Which leads me to the following...

So a post on the Cleveland Tri Club forum was pretty cool. It asked who was the greatest sports influence on you, and why. It sort of got me thinking. I couldn't really narrow it down so I picked three.

In no particular order, my three are my dad, my mom, and my high school softball coach. My dad got me interested in baseball at a young age because he loved it so much and he used to play. I remember watching his games in the summertime when I was a kid and thinking how cool it must be to be on a team. Some of my best memories are from the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Although it was a pit (both the stadium and the Indians in the 1980s), the experience of the game really got me interested.

My mom is inspirational because she took charge of her health and became extremely active within the past few years. She goes to Jazzercise several times a week and now has really gotten into running, too! I think she could kick every mom on the block's butt. :) It's really cool to see her progress in her fitness and training and just awesome to see her out there racing her heart out.

My softball coach is one tough guy. He wrestled for a college team back in the mid-50s. He is a phenomenal athlete himself, and a very tough, old-school kinda coach. You put your blood, sweat, and tears into that field for him and then put some more out there. He really instilled a sense of discipline into me that I definitely carry with me now. I remember hours after hours on end, pitching into a brick wall. The duct taped square was my strike zone. I would pitch entire "games" on that wall, and in the winter I moved to the gym. I wasn't the greatest pitcher out there by far. But I was willing to do what he needed me to do, and eventually became the closer. I always kind of liked that role, and really pay attention now in the Major Leagues to the "closers."

In a seven-inning game, I was often called in during the 6th inning, with the bases loaded and nobody out. Sometimes I inherited a 3-0 count. What he helped me learn was that with hard work and lots of practice, I could trust my abilities to deal with whatever pitch came next. Sometimes you got the call. Sometimes you didn't. Sometimes you struck out the side and were the hero.

Sometimes you watched the ball sail over your head and felt the tears well up, because you knew no one would say it was your fault, but you felt them thinking it.

Sometimes the ball would go flying into your face and break your nose.

But I digress.

So basically, I got to thinking. (Scary, I know.) How often in life have I felt like I've been thrown into the end of the game and inherited someone else's mistakes? How hard is it to overcome feeling scared because one small slip could cost you everything, and to trust yourself and just let go of the ball where you know it goes? How frustrating is it when you throw a perfect curve and don't get the call?

How does this relate to my training?

The brick wall is now my bike. The strike zone is my stroke. The fastball is my running. I know that I'm putting in hours and hours on end and working harder than I have ever trained in my life. There are things I can't control. Humidity. Weather. A flat tire. I know that these uncontrollable factors (and undoubtedly some that I haven't even thought of) will face me in September. Is it fair? No. Is it scary? Yes.

Am I a closer?

Hell yeah.

I need to remember where I've been to help me get where I'm going. I've had a lifetime of practice for this day, just not where I would have expected. I need to trust in the hours I've put in and the isolation of throwing the ball against the brick wall for 9 months. I can do this.

But, of course, the more I throw that ball, the better chance I have of being mentally and physically prepared to strive for a perfect game.


BuckeyeRunner said...

Those are great inspirational people. If you have been by my blog, you know that I am looking to get my inspiration back! Thanks for giving me something to think about.

Keryn said...

I am inspired by those people! And by you! What an awesome analogy. :)

Robb said...

I love it! I especially enjoyed reading your softball memories. You've got grit!

Just12Finish said...

I like your closer attitude - that's some real mental toughness. Really admirable.

TryAthlete said...

Great post! Loved it.

Spence said...

This post really inspires me. I get such a good sense of how hard you're working and have worked, how much momentum you have going right now and what direction you're heading. It's a really clear picture of things coming together and it helps me to focus on where I am too. Thanks for that...good stuff!

Cliff said...

Very good post...Sara. You will be on fire by Sept.

DaisyDuc said...

We are so fortunate to have had such inspirational people in our lives.

I must say that your drive to achieve more in fitness has even helped to inspire me!