Do you recall this paragraph from my last post?
"Doing Boulder again next year is an option but I expect I'll want to take a year off from grueling IM training and focus on shorter course events. I might change my mind, but right now, I think 2017 will probably be my year and Boulder will probably be my race."
Well, forget about that because I've had some time to think and decided that 2016 is going to be the year I try again!
Two days after my first DNF was a good time to write a summary since most of the events were still fresh in my mind but definitely not the best time to make predictions about my future. The truth is that the sting of not finishing that race was still pretty fresh.
Being on sabbatical has given me a lot of time to think and I forced myself to think of not only reasons why I should train for and race in an Ironman next year but also to think of reasons why not.
The "why not" reasons were not bad but also not compelling:
1. I'm tired and 2015 was a grueling year from a training standpoint. It might do me good both body and soul to have a year off.
2. There are no assurances that conditions will be any better next year. About two weeks after the race, the Front Range was experiencing close to triple digit heat and that would have made things much more difficult.
3. Training takes away from other things including time spent with my wife which is a big deal to me. I felt bad when I had to pass on doing something with her because I had hours of training.
4. Forking over another $700+ is not cheap. It's basically paying $5 a mile to race.
The reasons "why" were compelling:
1. My wife told me that she had no problem with me doing the race next year rather than in 2017. She said since I'm going to do it sooner rather than later, I might as well get it over with.
2. Because I didn't do any running on race day, I came out of it with fresh legs and not much need for a recovery (physically anyway). As a result, I'm heading into the off-season in good shape and that makes a good starting point from which to begin training early next year.
3. My doctor gave me a clean bill of health. Despite what the EKG in the medical tent said, no readings since (including a recent one in the doctor's office) has shown any indication that I have any cardiological issues. My doctor didn't even want to bother with the classic stress test. He said it would be overkill.
4. My initial desire not to do the race again was clearly more attributed to the disappointment and frustration at not finishing this year's race. As time passed and I was able to gain a little more perspective, my enthusiasm for doing this has returned.
5. Having an IM finish be an elusive goal will gnaw at me until I cross the finish line in an IM race. I can endure that for eleven and a half months or for nearly two years. I'm choosing the former.
6. I got a detailed (albeit expensive) preview of the swim and bike courses. I'm familiar with the particulars of how the race works and I learned what to repeat and what to avoid in the future (for example, nutrition with chocolate in special needs will melt and turn into a gooey mess).
I considered other options such as doing the distance in somebody else's race (such as HITS) or forking over the big-time money to get a foundation slot in one of the later season IM races but neither seemed practical. HITS is a great race, but I'm not sure that the level of support and enthusiasm I experienced in Boulder would be there in places Lake Havasu or Palm Springs.
As for paying for the foundation spot, I have a couple of problems with that. The first is that it's a lot of money, even with the tax deduction I could claim. Cost is the overwhelming reason. Second, the foundation is not, in my humble opinion, the noblest charity. I'd rather give my money to someone trying to cure a disease or take care of the indigent.
Finally, racing out of town is just too difficult to manage. I do have a day job and am obliged to spend some time with it. Taking another full week off this year is just really not practical and I'd need at least that long to travel, race and recover.
So what's ahead now that I've made this decision? Several things.
First, I'm going to continue with some light training just to maintain a reasonable level of conditioning. There will be no hard intervals or hours long sessions. Instead, I'm going to just relax and enjoy the unstructured time.
Second, I will be officially registering within days. Given the high participation rate (something like 2800 registrants in this year's race) I'm not concerned about an imminent sell out, but I do want to get registered before the first price increase on September 4.
Third, I've asked my coach to set up a "Train Your Limiter" plan much as we did last year. I made a lot of improvement on the bike, but I have a lot more to make. Another year of it ought to make me a bit faster. We'll also be doing a running lactate threshold test so I'll have good baselines for both the run and the bike.
Fourth, the 2016 training season is one that I think will be intensely focused. I know what to expect and will be hit the ground running (maybe literally) in January. Having been down this path, it's much easier to connect the dots between training and racing. I think that will help me when I'm out there struggling through a tough workout.
I would not have asked for this scenario but it is what it is. I can't change the past only use it to make the future better. No doubt I'll have some dark moments ahead and times when I wished I had waited or even thrown in the towel on the whole Ironman thing. Deep down, though, I know this is what I want.
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!