Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What You Can't Buy

I don't remember where I was. Ah yes, it was San Francisco. I had just finished shopping for my wife and kids and was sitting at the bar having a glass of wine. The bartender struck up a conversation and asked me the usual - "where ya from?

After he found out, the usual next question came up - "why ya here"?

I told him for a few days away and to run in a ten mile race. The bartender said that he was a cyclist. Ah! Now it is conversation time.

After some bullshit back and forth he congratulated me on my time in the race and said something to the effect that "you can't buy things like that". He sort of mumbled it under his breath as he was walking away to help another customer. I stopped him and asked him to repeat what he just said because I wasn't sure that I heard him right. Yep, that is what he said.

I said "thanks man, I never really thought about it that way". Wise words from a stranger, those.

And I have something that you just can't buy with money. Fitness. I ran on a (very) hilly course in San Francisco ten miles and averaged eight minute miles. I have to admit, I was impressed with myself - and I train for other things. Wonder how well I could do if I just trained for one sport.

Even though you can't buy the level of physical fitness I have, it isn't really worth anything either. I will never be a professional. Then again, what is it worth?

It is worth a lot for me to have my wife ogle my new shape. It is worth an enormous amount to me to be able to hang out with my new friends who run, ride bikes and practice Muay Thai. My fitness buds are like family to me now. I suppose all of this working out may add a few years to my life, but that is something that is just unprovable. I live twelve miles from work and could easily walk or run that to get to my family if there were some sort of catastrophe. I suppose that is worth something (maybe).

I thought about the bartender again yesterday in my basement. I was doing another soul crushing workout on the bike trainer. Another hour and a half in the basement spinning away, pounds (literally) of sweat beading off of my body. That workout would have probably killed most men my age. Can't buy that, I suppose. I had on a dvd of the Tour de France. They were climbing some of the mountains that I will be climbing in just a few months. Seven weeks to be exact. My cycling pinnacle.

I have been spinning all winter on the trainer, putting in the time so I will do well in France climbing the Pyranees and I am ready. On top of that I ran, did strength training, and still do MT to keep my muscles confused and keep my all around level of fitness top notch.

Speaking of MT.

After tonight I will have been doing MT for four straight years. I am now at a brown sash level for another year or so and then I will be a black sash, the pinnacle at my gym. Everything has really come together this last block. For the last year or so I felt like I was pushing a huge rock up hill, and now as of late the rock is screaming down. The game is slowing down for me. My techniques flow so smoothly compared to just a few months ago. I am more fearless (this might be bad). I am confident in my abilities. The head instructor has seen it too and has told me so.

I like talking to people about physical fitness. I know body sizes and shapes now and I can smell a bullshitter a mile away. It is a little sad for people to lie about their physical fitness - sort of like kicking your golf ball out of a bad spot. I like to offer people to go for a run or ride with me when I doubt their level of fitness. Most don't take me up on it.

In the end, I am not sure where I am going with all of my fitness things. All I do know is that after a great workout, whether running, biking or doing MT, I feel absolutely great. And that is a feeling that you can't buy.

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