Throwback Today: The First Slice

Because I've been caught up trying to play landlord (any ladies want to move to an awesome shared apartment in Newton?!), I've decided to share some throwback posts from my bike racing days. This one from December of 2009 is one of my favourites since it mentions pizza a lot. Mmmm.... PIZZA!

The First Slice

I was reading The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem the other day (not in and of itself remarkable since I rarely go two feet in my apartment without a book), but while reading (in the shower of course), I came upon this section:

“There’s a story I like to tell,” said Brodeur. “When I was a boy I used to love pizza, and whenever my father took me to the pizzeria I’d order two slices. And I’d sit and he’d watch me wolfing down the first slice with my eyes on the second.  I wasn’t even tasting that first slice.  And one day my father said to me, ‘Son, you need to learn that while you’re eating the first slice of pizza, eat the first slice. Because right now you’re eating the second slice before you’ve finished the first.’ And a year ago I realized that I needed that lesson again.  I took a look at my life and realized I had my eye on the second slice of pizza.”

It got me thinking. Who amongst us hasn’t been guilty of ‘second slicing’ at some point in our life? Been guilty of giving only perfunctory attention to the ‘now’ while straining desperately toward some imagined future? People work jobs they hate, saving money for some time they’ll never reach, and never get to enjoy what that money can buy. People catalogue wish lists and dream about what they’ll do in some far off when, missing out on the myriad opportunities available in the now.  Yes, this concept is trite. I’m not talking about some Newtonian apple-on-the-head moment here, but how often do we check to see if we can really taste that first slice?

I like to think that in general I’m pretty much a ’first slice’ kind of girl (except when it comes to actual pizza, which I demolish with a pathetically second slice (and third and fourth slice) attitude…I can’t conquer that particular demon yet). But I feel like lately I’ve been splitting time between dwelling on this year’s hard times and racing failures, and dreaming about what I hope will happen tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. Any time but now.

I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy what I’m doing. The Adventure Race cracked me up. I am still proud of changing my starter. I love hanging out at Trivia Night at Desperate Annie’s. I do fun stuff. Lots of it. And I have no intention of stopping any time soon.

But, when I get home, and I’m collapsed on my couch, or failing miserably at falling asleep, lately I’ve found that the fun is gone and I’m peering around for my second slice, the first one not yet finished. I needed a change and there is no time like the present to get started.

But even the best laid plans can fail and I woke up on Saturday, not thinking about how much fun I had baking holiday cookies with the LUNA ladies the night before, not glad it was the weekend, not looking forward to an evening holiday party, not loving my fluffy comforter, but wishing I hadn’t woken up. I had two and half hours of training, including a race simulation interval, to do, but I didn’t even want to get out of bed. Not even to get coffee. Blah.

Cat in Bed.jpg


And so the day begins....

So, I ‘wasted’ a good number of hours trying not to do my workout by reading voraciously and showering more times than is necessary when not doing anything. Eventually, harnessing my stubborn and knowing that training will supposedly lead to racing success, I finally convinced myself to do my race simulation workout outside on my ‘cross bike.  It wasn’t windy and temps were hovering around freezing. Spending forty-five minutes at race pace on a trainer was too terrible a prospect this early in the winter. Frostbite seemed a small price to pay for avoiding that treacherous combination of boredom tempered with pain.

So after an hour warm-up on the Scott/trainer combo, I grabbed Rodney and hit the streets to do some hot laps around the Saratoga Lions Club Duathlon course (my favorite close to home testing ground). After a quick ten minutes to re-warm myself, I cranked it up to race pace. And, pulling my sleeve fully down to avoid the sneaky ‘Aren’t I done yet?!’ watch-check detractor that sucks the fun from many a workout, I got started.

And a couple minutes later, I found that I had no urge to check my watch at all. Yeah it was cold. Yeah it was getting dark and consequently colder. But damn was it nice to be outside. Here is my slice. Maybe my first. Maybe my second. My third, fourth, fifteenth. Whatever. This is the slice I’m eating now.

So I forgot about next year’s races. I forgot about the party coming up. I forgot about saving my legs for my hike the next day.  And (with my heart rate suitably race oriented of course), I focused instead on enjoying the moment. The feeling of conquering rough ground on ‘cross tires. The light fading over ice frosted trees. The pleasing burn of cranking the big ring, high cadence, up that long slow hill. And, especially, the double and triple takes I was garnering from passing cars.

“I must be looking pretty fast!” I thought to myself. “Or pretty damn hot!”

I know, clearly, that they just thought I was insane (or maybe that they’d had one drink too many at that last party to be hallucinating an idiot out biking in the December gloaming). But luckily being insane gives me the excuse to misinterpret situations. So I was fast and I was sexy. After all, who doesn’t look sexy in a billowing wind jacket and ten-year-old tights, a helmet jutting from their hat covered head like some demented mushroom? Hot. Definitely hot.

Add a helmet and this is what I looked like...

Add a helmet and this is what I looked like...



Not my toes and fingers though. By the time I was done communing with the pavement, the rubber-neckers, and a few startled deer and turkeys, my extremities were white cold and begging for home. So I rolled happily back to home base, reheated with an additional thirty minutes of spin time (and the end of the Charlie’s Angels DVD I was unselfconsciously enjoying), and finished the evening with a nice party and a reasonable bedtime.

As I was drifting off to sleep I thought to myself: I don’t care what tomorrow holds. Yeah I bet it’ll be good, but damn this slice tastes good!