In case you haven’t been paying attention, I haven’t really announced any serious racing intentions for this year. I do have a few commitments competition-wise, but not many. I’m still not feeling that urge to be overly competitive and I haven’t quite found that confidence within myself to do so. I’m getting there…but not quite.
In fact, for the first time in six years I’m opting to say ‘No’ to any serious competition.
My initial plan last year was to begin building up enough physical stamina and mental toughness to launch into full blown Ironman mode this summer but, well, last year didn’t exactly play out very well for me did it (click HERE)? No, I ended up pretty much sidelined with injuries as a walking bag of cortisol as the result of a very unstructured, haphazard and thoroughly inadequate training plan. It was more about pain and suffering than it had anything to do with building strength and endurance. I’m not saying there weren’t some successes along the way but in general, I performed well below what I know to be my personal potential.
As a result, I’ve focused this past off season on regaining that physical and mental health and I am just now beginning to be capable of more challenging workouts; specifically in regards to my running. I now complete one speed interval run per week (which was the staple of my Ironman training back in 2012) and I just completed my first half marathon distance run in three months this past weekend. It was slow, painful, and about as much fun as having red ants poured down your pants but, hey, after months of dealing with Morton’s Neuroma issues in my right foot I got ‘er done. It’s not perfect (my foot or the run, take your pick), but it’s getting better day after day.
I still do have some events in mind for the summer that I committed to early on before I really thought about it, including a return to the Musselman Half Ironman triathlon in Geneva, NY next month and an Olympic distance race in Rochester, NY in August. I initially signed up for Musselman at the urging of my coach back in January/February and while I’m excited to participate, my lack of “race-ready” preparations have been extremely inadequate at best. Where I usually like to have one or two short distance triathlons under my belt (on average, I’ve been competing in 4-5 triathlons per year since 2009) before anything major as a means of honing my race transitions and fueling strategy, this event is going to my first triathlon of the season; not to mention my first long distance brick run since the Incredoubleman Triathlon back in September – and you all remember how that turned out.
Muddying the waters even more, is that the Musselman was my first half iron distance race, like, ever and it did not go so well. It pretty much ended with me limping across the finish line with a blown ITB in an abysmal 5:56:47. It was pretty much how NOT to do a triathlon and that experience allowed me to refocus and regroup the following year leading into a successful performance at the Cancun 70.3 the following year and, ultimately Ironman Wales the next. It was always my intent to return to this course and conquer it successfully as I would have liked to have done back in 2010 so when the Coach made the suggestion I was all in.
Today, I’m kind of regretting that decision. Not because I think I’m woefully unprepared (and I might just be) but because I’m actually enjoying not being in a competitive mode for a change. I’m actually beginning to enjoy training again (okay, maybe not the long runs so much) but I’m not enjoying the feeling of having to stick to a strict training schedule. Making matters even more complicated is that I’ve also committed to other projects that are near and dear to me such as volunteering more regularly with the SunRype Tri-KiDs Triathlon series, completing my annual Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids this past April, leading a weekly Monday Night Master’s spin class at the YMCA (not to mention a “Family Cycle” class in the Fall/Winter) and, of course, being the “Tail End Charlie” for the anual The Big Move this coming September. I also have some fun things on the docket like the La Bico Classica 100k charity fun ride on my dad’s old road bike that I am having restored (story to come) and, hopefully, making good on the Toronto Island Swim that I missed out on last year. So it’s not like I’m totally ‘slothing out’ and just doing nothing. I’m busy, I’m active and – for a change – I’m having fun.
I’m just not ready to actually compete yet.
So what’s the difference?
Well, while I support everyone’s reasons for doing what they do when it comes to being active and racing and whatnot, including just having fun, I don’t like to do anything half ass. If I’m going to compete I want to be able to give it 100%. Just finishing or making it to the finishing line does not motivate me like it used to when I first started out on this whole triathlon crazy train. I’ve spent 6 years now working on my inadequacies and getting proficient in the sport and now that I feel like I’ve acquired some decent skill and experience, I tend to get disappointed when I’m not able to perform to that full potential and it can be very defeating when I don’t. So, aside from the two events I’ve already signed up for earlier this year on a whim, I’ve chosen to say ‘No’ to competing in anymore.
Now, I realize how incredibly arrogant this might sound to some but I’ve come to learn about myself that I’m a competitive person and driven to achieve results. It’s just the way I’m wired. I see all my other friends and training peers currently accomplishing great things and setting new KOM’s on Strava and it kind of makes me feel a bit behind the eight ball. Shit, two of my friends completed a 50k trail run this past weekend…how incredibly amazing is that? I know I’ll get this confidence back eventually but, for the time being, I’m liking training for the sole purpose of training…for nothing in particular. I’m enjoying the absence of a detailed schedule plan and not having the pressure to perform when it falls by the wayside because of business travel, family obligations, volunteering opportunities or just because I feel like a lazy shit.
Hey, it happens to the best of us.
Usually I would just try to persevere and carry on carrying on as I did last year, but now I realize that that quality of extreme persistence can sometimes be our own worst enemy and last year, it ultimately did me in. My body basically shut down and it’s taken me literally a year to get back to the point where I’m beginning to feel confident and able again. Hell, it’s been a long road since 2012. This whole ‘Ironfunk‘ thing is very real. So maybe I’m still a bit gun shy or, maybe, just maybe, this whole ‘saying no’ will be the best decision I’ve ever made. Either way, when I do decide to return to serious competition I want it to be on my terms. Not to fuel an overriding desire to simply suffer for the sake of suffering. I’m so done with that.
So, race fans, where you can still expect posts to this blog in the coming months about events I’ve chosen to participate in, know now that there aren’t likely going to be any new ‘Personal Bests’ or crazy “tough guy” challenges.
I’m still training. I’m still improving. I haven’t given up.
I’m just finally exercising my right to say: ‘fuck it, not this year’.