Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Decision

I was going to call ESPN and see about setting up a special broadcast to let the world know whether or not I’ll be competing in a 140.6 event next year. But I figured they were too busy covering the All-Star game.

So my only venue for this important announcement will be the blog.

And the answer is…no, not next year.

To be sure, I was attempted. About a week ago I got an e-mail from Ironman offering me a priority place in line since I had registered for this year’s Boulder Tri Series. That alone would probably have assured me a spot.

I also looked at coaching services. I happened to drop guitar lessons recently and low and behold, monthly coaching services were almost exactly the same price. In other words, I could have afforded it and if I ever do make the decision to be an Ironman, I almost certainly will have a coach.

I also am very familiar with the venue. I’ve done a total of three races in Boulder plus a handful of aquathlon events. I know the area where the run will be having biked and run it all through college and I have spent plenty of time on the back roads that will make up much of the bike course.

But all that is still not enough.

Physically, I’m coming off one of the more chronic injuries I’ve experienced. Other than foot surgery (a voluntary injury) I’ve never had to spend so long rehabilitating. That included some fairly intense physical therapy (if you don’t believe that, go get some dry needling treatment and see if you still feel that way), reduced running schedules and just a generally unmotivated feeling that comes with being in pain whenever you work out. My body might be ready for this, but it’s not exactly a sustained period of strength from which I’m coming.

The even bigger obstacle is a mental one. It’s not that I don’t believe I can do this. I know I could put my mind to it and probably get the whole event done within the 17 hour time limit. This is more about being properly motivated to do it right.

That means happily getting up very early six mornings a week, training for 15 or more hours a week and making some fairly significant sacrifices to my life for six months or so. If I had nothing else to do, no job, no marriage, no other interests outside of triathlon, it would be an easy decision. In the face of those things however, it becomes daunting.

For the next year I have three main goals.

1)      Finish up my remaining races doing as well as I can. Hopefully I can show some improvement at each one. I still have four so this will be a big goal on its own,
2)      Build a big base in the off season. There will be no marathon next year so I’ll be balancing my running, riding and swimming. I just want to have a steady, uneventful offseason where I make gradual improvements and enhance my overall fitness.
3)      Focus on a handful of races with an eye toward PR’s in 2014. I really had fun racing in 2012 and was a little sad to see my season end in mid-August. As a result, I signed up for 9 events this year and now I sort of wish there had been fewer. Next year I think I’d like to do no more than four events and focus on doing my best at each one. It was frustrating having a much slower time at the peak this year. Getting faster as I get older is going to be more difficult, but I think I still have a few more years of improvement left in me.

I think coaching remains on the table as an option. I won’t seriously look into that until next year but it might be worth it if I can be a better racer. For now, it’s focus on the Boulder 70.3 event, have some fun at Rattlesnake and TriRock and then focus hard on the Austin 70.3 event.

If I ever do make “the decision” I’ll think about calling ESPN. For now, thanks for reading about all my adventures (and struggles) here!

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