After stringing together five triathlon racing seasons without much break in between, I decided to take a BIG break after Kona. The kind of break I had been dreaming about for a while. I took such a long break (I am actually still taking it), that I wasn’t sure I would ever do another workout again. It felt so good to do what I wanted, when I wanted and let go of the things that had become a mental drain – like riding the trainer or swimming. Instead, I’ve been running (or walking) around the neighborhood with the dog sans watch or heart rate monitor. That’s about it. Part of me feels like I have gotten accustomed to being “lazy,” but part of me also realizes that this break was necessary if I want to push myself hard again next season.
I sometimes joke that I don’t know why I do triathlon because I don’t really like to swim or bike. The truth is, while I don’t like some aspects of the individual sports, I love racing Ironman and trying to put together all of the pieces of the puzzle of swim/bike/run on race day. But once you have raced 140.6 once, twice, nine times, you have to ask yourself, “what keeps me coming back to this?” Something keeps me signing up for race after race after race, but what is it? Why do I feel like I have to keep doing it?
I thought about that question a lot this fall. It didn’t take an advanced degree in psychology for me to figure out part of the reason I kept training for Ironman after Ironman. Ironman training takes quite a bit of mental and physical energy. So much energy that I didn’t have time to think about many other things in my life. And that was the point. When I was exhausted from training or planning the next season, I didn’t have time to focus on the things I preferred not to focus on. These were smallish things (“my storeroom and closet are a mess”) and big things (“I’m worried about my kids”). I knew after my big race was over that I would have time to think about the other, non-triathlon things in my life, and I wasn’t looking forward to that. But this time around, it felt like it was time to face some of these things. It was, literally and figuratively, time to get my house in order. While I was out training for nine Ironmans, a few things fell by the wayside and slipped through the cracks. It was time to address them, or at least let them into my head and try to process some of those thoughts.
In that way, this off-season has been hard not just from the standpoint of the “post race blues,” but the letting of things back into my head that I have shoved deep down for several years. It was time to face issues about whether I should be doing more with my career (yes), and think long and hard about whether I am doing the best job I can parenting my kids (probably not). I tried to expand my shrunken circle a bit and make time to see friends and do some non-training related activities with Mark (still working on that one as Mark doesn’t believe in an off-season). I cleaned out the closet, the storeroom, the kids’ rooms, and most of the drawers and cabinets in the house. I got rid of all of the junk.
I thought about whether there are more dreams to achieve in triathlon and whether I should l find something new to do with my time. I decided the answers to those questions were “yes” and “maybe.”
So, I head into 2015 with a slightly different perspective on things. Without the Kona qualifying goal, I can focus on what I really want from the sport and what fits into my life and our family. The old pressure has been lifted (I think), but new goals have been set, both inside and outside of sport.
Another development for 2015 that I’m excited to announce is that I will be racing on Team Coeur as an ambassador for Coeur Sports! I couldn’t be more excited to join this talented and inspiring group of women. When I thought about what I was missing in my tri life, I decided it was the camaraderie and support of other active women. In my day-to-day life, I don’t have too many friends who are involved in triathlon, although more are giving it a go, which is fun to see. I also train by myself about 90% of the time. Those factors make life kind of lonely sometimes, and I decided that this year, I wanted to be part of a community. I had a pretty good idea I would find this family as a member of Team Coeur, a company that seems to be much more interested in growing the sport and encouraging women’s participation in sport than just making stylish clothes. When I read Coeur’s blog, I found myself agreeing with a lot of what they had to say about the hot issues in the tri world right now, and I loved the way the team members all supported each other’s racing. I’m also impressed by the quality of the clothes, which are all designed and made in the USA.
I am also back for another season as a Nuun Ambassador, which is lucky because I drink so.much.Nuun.
Many thanks to Kompetitive Edge for seeing me through three seasons and helping me develop from a newbie to a more seasoned racer. I’ll always be grateful for the support I received from Jared, Ryan, Brandon, Drew and Rich. Always support your local tri shop, folks!
I hope everyone who is taking an off-season enjoys it as much as I have and arrives in 2015 fully recharged and ready to rock. That is what I am hoping for myself. Have a great holiday season!