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I’m at peace right now. I’m not anxious. I’m not worried. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of anticipation, or challenges before me, but I have a sense of knowing that is hard to explain.

On the training end of things, I have chosen a very ambitious first half of the year. I am tackling another half-marathon in less than two months, and a half ironman in under six. I started a 20 week program made by the gold plan at beginnertriathlete.com. I replaced the run portion of the first half with a basic 9 week program from Runner’s World for a first half-marathon. It’s technically my second, but I’m treating it like starting over. The run volume has meant that I have not gotten my bike volume goals in these early weeks, but I am OK with that. I have a couple of stops along the way, including many runs, a half-lite course in early May, and a return to TriRock Annapolis where I plan to take at least 30, if not 45 minutes off my 2011 time of 2:24:53. I’ve taken a couple races off the proposed schedule, mostly later in the year. I don’t plan to slack in the summer post-Eagleman, however. I have a score to settle with a 5k swim in August.

As much as that is the focus of most of what I’ve written about, I’m arriving at a point where it’s not as central. The volume is going up, the training is getting specific, and I’m spending more time doing it. Even so, I am focused much more on my weight, and my food. In that arena, I am currently experiencing a surprising mental shift. I’ve always known I would eventually get here, but I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know what it would feel like. I don’t want to pretend I have solved all my problems, but I have found freedom like I haven’t known in years. I have eliminated some things from my life entirely, with no pretense of “well just a bit in moderation.” What once seemed like a horrifying idea of giving something up, is becoming for me, freedom from bondage. I no longer spend a minute worrying about whether I’ll be able to limit myself to X number of cookies. I just don’t eat cookies at all. And I don’t have a weekly free day (aka excuse to binge). And so far, I am without cravings. I am also seeing weight loss.

In the midst of all this, I have been working hard to identify exactly which foods are problems for me, that stimulate reactions of an addict. I am also identifying those things which I can enjoy in proper doses, but only when strictly measured. Some of them may join the list of banned substances if I decide they are too much of a crutch. But here’s the beautiful truth of right now: I don’t consider this deprivation. I consider it freedom.

As I’ve been going through this discernment process, I’ve focused very directly on training fuel. I can’t avoid the need for simple sugars when running for over 90 minutes. But whereas I used to use that as an excuse to flirt with that whore Little Debbie as often as possible, I have focused on a natural source that provides the fast fuel I need in training, but that doesn’t lead me to binge before or after.

Honey.

For years now, I’ve been on the verge of starting a beehive. It has been on the long list of “new hobbies” I’ve dabbled in. I got all the equipment, all the books, read the websites. But unlike other hobbies you can just shove in a garage or closet when you’re bored with it, honey production involves living things, the bees. I didn’t start the hive yet because I lacked the commitment to the hive that I felt necessary.

Yet something has always been pulling me toward beekeeping. I hear how peaceful and spiritual it is for the keeper. I read about the almost mystical relationship between the bees and humans. For years I have told anyone who will listen, that the honeybee is vital to our survival. But I have yet to actually establish the hive I can call my own.

That changes this year. As I’ve been praying, meditating, reading, and discerning, the quest for greater health that goes beyond just an exercise regimen that culminates in shiny medals and t-shirts, has been calling me to the real food movement. I’ve been a CSA member, local food advocate, raw milk drinker, grass-fed beef broker, all the while leading a double life of part-time whole foods devotee and part-time processed food drug user.

I can confidently say I’m finally ready to start the hive.

Recovery in 2012 may have outward manifestations like weight loss and faster race times, and longer distances achieved, but the real change has been years in the making. I’ve finally found the peace that is allowing that transition to happen. I’m not saying it will be perfect, or that it will be struggle free. But I have found the steps to deal with my destructive relationship with food and eating, and I am feeling free. Truly free.

Oh, and I ran a 5 mile PR pace Sunday at the Winter Series. Snowfest is this Sunday where I should blow out last year’s time of 78 minutes, aided by a lack of snow, but also my increased fitness. Still, neither of these is as important to me right now as the process I have begun to break the cycle of behaviors that led to my self-made prison for years upon years.

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One thought on “Free

  1. Hi Andy, just wanted to chime in tonight and say I think that you are awesome, I enjoyed your post. You are am amazing, introspective, thoughtful person, that same guy I knew and admired in Freshman English and many philosophy courses we shared. I enjoyed listening to you and examining your opinions and thoughts then, and do still now. Keep working, growing, changing– it’s perfectly what you are supposed to be doing.
    -S

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