Well, it had the makings of a good, yummy Christmas. I filled the stockings with candy, chocolates, and candy canes. I planned a steak dinner with creamy mashed potatoes and salad for Christmas Eve and spaghetti and meatballs for Christmas Day (the kid's favorite). I had sliced pineapple, scallops wrapped in bacon, yummy cheeses to go on gourmet crackers and prosciutto wrapped mozzarella to serve as hors d'œuvres while we opened presents and drank juice (kids) or wine (me) or beer (Andy). Jordan, my little chef, was planning the desserts: sugar cookies for Santa, and a huge, rich chocolate cake with three different choices of ice cream on Christmas day.
On Thursday Jordan was home with a very violent stomach flu.
You know where this is going....
I succumbed at about 10 p.m on Christmas Eve. Andy followed at 5 a.m. on Christmas Day. Lara was next, then Noah. It was a swell Christmas. Lots and lots of puke and liquid shit to go around for everyone. Ho Ho Ho! Merrrrrrrrry Christmas!!
In the days of the plague it was customary to place a large red X on the door of a home with an infected victim, so all would know to stay away. Weeks later, men dressed in masks stuffed with lavender (to stave off the smell) would enter the house and haul out the dead. I felt we should have had a red X on our door yesterday. It was that ugly.
We still aren't eating... none of us. Andy went out and got popsicles for the kids to suck on this morning. We have all managed a few crackers. Until just recently Lara slept by the toilet, head to the cold bathroom floor. And so...
Jordan and I did get out of the sick house at about 3 pm yesterday to take the dogs for a walk in the woods. It was great to breathe fresh, cold air. The other weren't well enough to go. Sadly, that walk was the highlight of my Christmas--as close to the 10 mile Christmas run in the snow as I was going to get.
But wait, actually.... a quiet walk in the snowy woods with your interesting, sweet, gorgeous daughter and your adorable dogs (who, btw, were more than happy to help clean up throw up--gotta love dogs) is actually not sad at all... so I take that back. A walk like that would likely have been the highlight of my Christmas whether we had all been well or not.
The kids, in between bouts of barf, managed to open all of their presents. They are well enough today (except Lara, poor little bug) to attempt skating on their new roller blades in the basement. For Christmas, Andy got me a laptop, on which I write right now. In my stocking he gave me a Starbucks gift card and a chocolate chip scone. This was my writer's gift.... my dream... eating scones, drinking coffee, writing on my own laptop--not one shared with my Webkinz obsessed progeny. A perfect gift.
I don't do well when I get derailed from my plans. Christmas was supposed go a certain way. It didn't go that way--at all. This left me feeling hollow. My plans--my plans--! In ruins before me! The fact that I have such a hard time when things don't go as I imagine they should likely makes me a tad unlikeable. It is something I have tried to change, but it remains a constant of who I am.
This happens to me with workouts as well. On Saturday and Sunday of this week I was supposed to be finishing off my third week of training before a rest week. I awoke this morning all in a tizzy. What should I do? I had deviated from the plan! Should I try to get in my bike workout today even though I am still a little ill? Should I move the workouts I had to miss on Saturday and Sunday to Monday and Tuesday of this week even though it should be a rest week? I needed that long run on Christmas--I have a 16 mile road race coming up at the end of January and I am only up to about 10 slow miles. What do I do!
This is, of course, where having a coach comes in. I seem to be able to see clearly what my athletes should do in a situation like this (ahem... rest/get well) but I seem to be incapable of applying the same logic to my own training. Luckily I do have a coach, and luckily she always seems to be there for me--the day following Christmas or not--and luckily, she sets me straight. I will rest today, rest for this week, and maybe end my rest week a few days early so I can get in a long run this weekend. Of course that's the logical plan. If I try to work out now what good will it do? I can still barely eat a cracker...
The thing is that like you--that like so many of my athletes--I want to execute my training flawlessly. I want to do every workout exactly as it's written for me, and on the day it's prescribed. It is the only path to success that I know... to be rigid and ruthless in my application of the plan before me.
Life-- it gets in the way of perfect execution, doesn't it?
There is a line in the 2009 NBC production of the IM World Championship in which the narrative voice announces, Craig Alexander just executed the perfect race.... The same could be said for Macca this year, actually. But how often does that happen? It was worthy of saying only because it is so unusual to be able to execute anything perfectly. Alexander or McCormack may even argue that they didn't execute their races perfectly. I am fairly certain things happened along the way to their victories that they hadn't planned on, that they had to overcome. In the end the appearance was of perfection--after all--they WON. But does perfect execution of anything even really exist?
The idea that perfect execution may be impossible should be comforting. Of course it's not how well we execute that matters, but how we deal with it when things get in the way of our perfect execution. For me, spilling my anxiety to Jen, telling her what I was tempted to do and then having her gently set me straight, is as close as I can come to perfect execution this time around. It would've been better if I hadn't gotten sick--if my whole family hadn't gotten sick. But we did get sick, and that is that.
Life is like that. Sometimes you get sick on Christmas. Sometimes you get injured when training for a race. Sometimes little things stand in your way of getting done what you need and want to get done. Sometimes very big things get in the way of getting done what you need and what to get done.
I guess the only real truth here is that something will always be in the way. And you can't always remove that thing. In fact--usually you can't. You simply have to figure out the best way through it or around it or despite it. It's the only control we have: the power and will to navigate well when we are derailed--in sport, and in life.
I hope you had a barf-free Christmas!