Monday, June 08, 2009

Ambition is a road that never ends...

I've been musing this week on ambition.

What makes some of us ambitious and others not? And, within those categories, what makes some of the ambitious ones ruthlessly ambitious? What drives them ever onwards and can they ever truly be happy?

I'd been chatting with Fiona through the week about this in a peripheral way - about how unambitious people were often happier than those not setting constant targets for themselves. But are they? I'm not so sure.

Things became more focused for me on Sunday morning when I marshaled at the Big-Cow National Sprint Championships. Big-Cow is run by Boothy, a mate from Team MK, and it's always good to give a bit back and also to support other triathletes, so I try and marshal when I can at their events.

The weather on Sunday was absoultely foul and, stood as I was at a roundabout, waving cyclists through and occasionally stopping the early morning traffic, I again pondered what drove these people to get up at four o'clock in the morning, drive down to the event and compete in near monsoon conditions. I looked at the houses they were cycling past and saw nothing but closed curtains behind which were legions of sunday morning sleepers, looking forward to a fried breakfast and nothing more demanding than lifting the sunday papers.

And I came to the conclusion that I'd rather be driven. I'd rather have goals. I'd rather be trying to constantly better myself. I'd rather be pushing my body to the limits and I'd rather be trying to be the best at whatever it is I do. If I come up short then fine... but at least I've tried. It's a never ending cycle (pardon the pun) and it's a constant climb rather than a stroll through life, but it's a little like Coach K says about distance running: it's not the distance that kills you, but the pace. Meaning that we all have a pace we travel at best through life - and I discovered a long time ago that mine involves constant climbing. It satisfies me, makes me happy and, more importanly, is one I can sustain. It's not wrong for others to travel at different paces or routes, but what is wrong is to have a desire to do so and never to try.

I found myself, soaked to the skin, amongst kindred spirits yesterday morning. But I also found myself thinking that behind just one set of those curtains was someone peeking out, secretly wishing they were doing something similar. And I hoped that they would have the strength to try.

I've not filled you in on my writing really and now seems an apposite time to do so, talking as we are about ambition. I'm currently writing my first novel. And I know... everyone has a novel in them. Difference is that I'm writing mine is all. What started as a screenplay for (hopefully) my third film, developed over the preceding months into a fully fledged treatment of over 20,000 words. Several of my confidants - who I show these things to for comments and feedback - suggested taking the project down the route of novelisation. My agent was similarly enthusiastic. So I decided to seize the day and go for it. I guess it's all part of stepping further up the pyramid of needs and the constant re-setting of goals. So far I've delivered a synpopsis and half a dozen sample chapters to my agent. I'm waiting to hear back from him regarding next steps but, in the meantime, I continue to write.

And write.

And write.

On the subject also of ambition, I'm back on track with my goals for Ironman Germany on July 5th (now less than four weeks away). You'll recall I'm looking to achieve a time of 10 hours and 15 minutes and, despite a recent injury scare, I feel I'm on course to achieve that. Of course, things can go wrong, but you don't stand a chance unless you do the training, and - with just a week or so left before my taper - I can at least be pleased with the work I've put in over the last six months.

This week's training was as follows:

Monday 2km swim drills and timed 2 x 400m, 4 x 100m
Tuesday 1.9km open water swim at 26'30", 40 mile recovery bike at 18.5mph avg and 69% of HR
Weds 58.6 mile bike (different cadences). 19.8mph avg, 72% HR avg. 6.2 mile run off the bike at 7:57 min miling and 79% avg HR
Thurs Cycle 10 mile TT on A505 course with Colin. PB of 23'16". Followed by 3 mile run at 7:49 miles and 75% avg HR
Fri - rest day
Sat - 2km open water swim (drafting practice), 41 mile bike (focus on seated climbing), 5 mile run
Sun - 17 mile long slow run. 7:55 minute miles at 73% of average HR, just under 2 hrs 15 mins.

Total time training: 17.19 hours

So, a good week. Focus has been very much on keeping heart rate low and establishing pace zones that I can work at for long periods. I'm really pleased to have established a new PB in my 10 mile TT to add to the pool 400m PB I achieved earlier in the year. Running is going very well and feels strong after my back injury lay off.

Congratulations this week to 'Arps, who broke his open water cherry this week and competed in his first open water sprint tri. He's got the bug has that lad and will go from strength to strength.

Commiserations to Colin who punctured and DNF'd at the Big Cow National Sprint Champs. No probs though, he's sitting pretty and has a chance to auto qualify at Blithfield in July.

Good luck to Dan, who's doing his first Olympic distance at Windsor this coming weekend (I thnk).

And to all of you... good luck this week and - if you're that way inclined - be ambitious.


Colin Bradley said...

Great blogging mate.

Well done for marshalling on Sunday - I did catch sight of you briefly when I rode past and you were in high spirits. Just what us soak-filled cyclists needed.

Alas I didn't get to see the next marshall due to puncturing before I got to the next turn!



truck said...

You have put me in mind of "the man in the arena"...............who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

H said...

Very exciting Jev, I love a good novel :) You are truly excellent x

Tom said...

great stuff mate,

I think it's the definition of 'ambition' that many people struggle with... food for thought?

a great piece on tapering here, you'll need to scroll down and it's in eight parts...