Happiness = Embracing the Suck

26 Nov

To recap:

In that reflection paper, I referenced an “After Action Report” that I sent to Coach and at the end of the blog post that provided the reflection paper I told you that:

If you take all four of this weekโ€™s posts together (Seroius Answer + Intro to Happiness + Reflection on Novelty + AAR), I think youโ€™ll have a pretty solid foundation upon which to build more happiness in your own life. Let me know if I’m wrong.

So, I now present the After Action Report, in its entirety, with no edits. And, again, I truly believe that if you read all of the above-referenced blog posts + what’s coming up, below, you will devise ways to bake lots of happiness into your own life.

Well, either that or you’ll at least have greater insight into how my warped world works and you can just shake your head in bewilderment. That’s cool, too.

from: Cristin Zeislerย 
to: Coach
date: Sun, Nov 23, 2014 at 6:32 PM

After Action Report

1. I decided to write my “Happiness-Novel Experience” reflection paper on yesterday’s outing (rather than making up lies about hang-gliding, motorcycle riding, or orc killing — all of which I still really, really want to do — hint, hint!). It’s attached in case you’re really bored…

2. If you read it, you will see that I gave our outing a post-hoc 8.5. You actually made me really sad, yesterday, when you predicted that I would give it a “4.” I assume your selection of that low number must’ve been based on whatever vibes you felt emanating from me, which makes me fear that I must’ve seemed like a rather Negative Nellie to you. That saddens me. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

True, I *did* have a killer headache by the end of the outing (and therefore I was kind of a grouch when we parted; sorry ’bout that, I still owe you hot dogs + your retainer check), and yes, I know I snapped at you at one point because I was experiencing massive sensory overload (an issue that I may never be able to fully overcome, I’m afraid) but I’d like to hope (wrongly, I guess) that you know me better than that by now.


So (cue Obama voice)…, Let me be clear: I really, really, REALLY enjoyed yesterday.

Sure, it was hard, on several levels (to be explored more fully, below).

And, yes, I was slow, but my slowness actually was very intentional and I think you will be very proud of me (and maybe you’ll even tuck some of these ideas into your coaching tool kit) when I explain what was going on…

3. Here’s what was going on:

(a) On the steep paved part — on a road I don’t know, which my coach has told me is “long” and “miserable,” I am going to take my heart rate way down so as to eliminate the possibility of blowing up/bonking. Could I have comfortably sustained a more aggressive pace? Yup. Now that it’s all done, I know that I could. And when I go back (and I WILL go back, assuming you “let” me!), I’m confident that I will shave 10-15mins no problem. It was a good intro. I’d actually be curious to try it out on Av one of these days…

(b) On the dirt — new road/HR preservation rules still in play, PLUS, here is helpful analogy + personal history lesson for you.

Pre-brain bashing, in my office I always had music on in the background and I’d regularly read/review documents while someone talked to me about the general principle behind whatever it was that I was reading and I could seamlessly pause and resume (or even continue) my reading to actively engage in animated conversation with them. And if Gisella came in with a question while this all was transpiring I’d answer her without disrupting the flow of all the other things going on. Multi-modal master.

Now, I generally can handle conversation + background noise with no problem these days (a redeveloped skill that is now about 1.5 years old), but to this day if I need to read something — even something as simple as a pop-magazine article, that’s THE ONLY thing I can do (although very recently, like in the last <6 mos, I can have music/tv on in the background if I’m reading something really, really simple, like my FB newsfeed — but that’s a fairly new dual-processing talent…). Generally speaking, however, if I’m reading, I need to focus very narrowly/exclusively on what’s in front of my eyes in order for me to process it.

MTB riding is like reading and the trails are the books. Sometimes they are FB newsfeeds, sometimes pop-magazines, sometimes neuroscience texts, and sometimes–like those rock gardens–they are like quantum mechanics (and, yes, I know that that rock section doesn’t even make your Top 20 list of tough MTB patches … but this is MY analogy, not yours!).

Anyhow, when I have to “read” challenging trails I have to really concentrate on that “reading” and everything else has to be eased back — including my heart, legs, lungs, and chatterbox.

Also, when I’m reading trails, my eyes do really crazy things. Remember how jacked up I was when I first returned to road riding and I couldn’t ride on the right-hand side of a double pace line because my eyes weren’t synching up?ย  That issue returns (sort of) when I’m trail reading. My eyes aren’t synched up and they send their messages to my brain at slightly (ever so slightly) times and in order to appropriately deliver that delayed “joint” message to my legs, my legs have to go slower. The only way that I can properly navigate a new trail is to allow an intentional lag space between input and output.

Over the past ~6 months, I learned (the hard way!) that if I try to “just ride,” even within your “low hr” strictures, I crash. Until I know the trail, I can’t “just ride” it.

I suspect you’ll tell me that EVERYONE has this issue when they ride MTBs. OK. Good for them. Good for you for thinking that’s the case for me, too, but here’s part (c)…

(c) My depth perception is still jacked up. When I first returned to the road, it took me more than a year to realize that “shadow” does NOT = crack/dip/divot/bump. It took me nearly 2 years to reliably distinguish between road anomalies and shadows, knowing when it’s ok to roll and when one needs to swerve/correct. I still get a little confused if I’m going down a heavily tree-lined/sun-dappled switchback-y hill.

Take that concept and give it a 4x boost on the dirt, especially rutted dirt, especially rutted dirt with lots of overhead branch shade patterns. Your CZ gets all kinds of jacked up and I am going to take the “better safe/slow than sorry” approach EVERY SINGLE TIME until I can figure out how to reliably process 3D space (harken back to my ball + trampoline fail…)

So, take (a) + (b) + (c) and you get CZ super slow MTB rider.

But you know what, I don’t care.
And I’d like to think that you don’t care either.
And I’d like to think that we BOTH rejoice mightily that I can:

(a) do any of this at all, in the first place, given what we both know could’ve been my reality;

(b) adroitly process and make use of all the meta-level stuff that goes into this, and

(c) continue in my pursuit to improve both of the above.

In short, and as usual, I am so, so, SO thankful to the universe and to you for helping me to get where I am and I really hope that you will continue to stay by my side, or in front of me, or behind me, or just somewhere in the general vicinity of my support circle to keep me grounded and help me reach higher.

And I would really love to have a fuller conversation with you about all of this and find out how off-base I am…


* * * * *

And look how happy we are at the top of that mountain!



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