Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hiding in plain sight

Growing up I was too skinny, smart, and mild mannered for my own good and got picked on a lot for it without fighting back. After a couple months of therapy in 5th grade, I was better able to handle it. I learned Kung Fu humor as a defense mechanism for the insecure feeling I got when the teasing got to be too much. Later on, I did learn karate for when the bullies went from words to fists. Thankfully, I only ever used it once, but things did get a lot better for me after one fight in 9th grade.

While I learned to deal with most of the insecurities of my youth, becoming overweight added a whole new set of adult insecurities. Whether it was dating, buying clothes, or just going out in public, while I didn't really realize how big I'd gotten I did start to notice that there were things I didn't do as easily as others. Learning to play hockey for instance was a lot more work for me than the rest of my friends who while they may not have been in perfect shape, had less stamina and weight related top-heaviness to overcome.

To get to the point, I still get insecure sometimes when I am lining up at a race or just getting on the bike. It happened at the Season Opener the other week when I stood there amongst all the folks in our wetsuits; I must have looked a bit like Shamu. It doesn't happen every time, as there are plenty of times when I am just totally in the moment; happy to be working out or racing against other folks. When it does happen, I try to remind myself that I'm doing something I love, that finishing is way more important than finishing first, and that each step I take brings me closer to a time when I won't stick out amongst the other athletes in such an obvious way.

Having learned Lowell 1st run is "dry", I secret "the keg" under my winter running shirt
Racing in Ohio is a good bit different than racing in Boston. While there are a lot of beginners here drawn in by the abundance of races throughout the year; overall Boston is home to a higher grade of amateur athlete than Columbus. Maybe it's just my perception, but after participating in a good number of races in Ohio during the 2 years I raced there, the elite amateurs here make up a larger percentage of the group and the middle of the pack is faster.

That's not to say I'm not getting faster or that I'm putting down Columbus in any way; it's just different. In fact, it's a compliment to the racing establishment back there that they were able to take someone like me and help me to grow enough to not feel completely on the outside looking in while competing here. Plus, I'm taking on larger races here with more participants who have more experience. That I'm not scared out of my mind (most of the time) to do it says something about the people I competed with before, and about me. 

And even though I've grown in some ways (and thankfully shrunk in others) a lot over the past couple years, like I was saying above I still get insecure. Thankfully, that humor defense still kicks in when I need it. Getting ready to ride on a day I'd eaten poorly and needed to be sure I didn't just sink into the couch, I got ready to get on the bike. And though I didn't need to, I put on my "That Butt Stuff" jersey as I rode through the city. Sure enough, at least 3 times on that ride, I hear laughter followed by "look at that!". 

Sure, they could have been laughing at a fat guy on a bike. But I'm pretty sure they were laughing at some guy wearing a shirt that has the word "Butt" in huge letters on front and back. Allowing the insecure fat guy on the bike to hide in plain sight.

Thanks Mr. Moore for your use of the "literal naming convention".

Todays notes:

- The first day of bike to work week was a smashing success. I knew it immediately by how tired my legs were and how hungry I was at work most of the day. The ride home was even faster, and I can already tell that dealing with less flat terrain each day on my commute is a good starting point for getting better on hills.

- I sold the Fuji last night. First guy that came to see her bought her. He's doing rehab for a soccer injury and seemed like he'll take good care of her. I got more than I paid for the new bike, and more than covered the cost of all the extra parts I put on the old bike (except the rear wheel and Look pedals, both of which I kept).

- I submitted my questions to Tyler Wright via the CBJ PR mechanism and they've been forwarded on. They have a link to the site on the CBJ Foundation page related to news coverage. Hopefully I'll get a call or an email response shortly on this. I just wish I hadn't given the wrong phone number the first time. 

- I'm still getting used to bike commuting each day. For example, today it's a lot cooler and overcast, and I forgot my bike gloves on the way in. Thankfully the new handle bars are far more comfortable than the old ones and while I noticed not having them it wasn't something that caused any trouble. It's better than forgetting my underwear like I did yesterday.

- I don't know about anyone else but I'm watching the Tour of California with interest this week. Aside from the obvious Lance sighting, the fact that the best of US cycling is doing the premiere US road race is a big deal. Yesterday the coverage wasn't very good due to the weather, but today it's expected to improve and they really start climbing pretty soon, which is where all the fun happens.


  1. Keeping up with the Giro and the Tour of Cali sure is keeping me busy right now. I hope today's stage has great weather so we can see it. Pretty hilly stage today in Cali

  2. I haven't been watching the Giro as much although it sounds like today was INSANE. Im watching stage 4 of ToC right now. I'm beat so probably a day off from training today.