I sat on my couch watching the recap of the Kona Ironman Championships and am so proud to be in this sport. The complex mix of training for three different sports and the camaraderie of the triathlon community has given my mid-life a meaning that belongs all to me.
I am a proud Mama of two really talented and interesting girls, and I have learned I need to stay talented and interesting myself for us all to have a healthy balance with each other. Triathlon and other racing do this for us.
|My one and only mud race...Chillgirl did it too and we agree- NO MORE MUD RACES!|
I may never be an Ironman, but that's okay. My Ks and other friends are racking up 70.3s (half-irons) and 140.6 (fulls) and I'm so proud to watch and cheer for them. I was with the Ks when they did their first few sprint triathlons and I've trained and raced with them all along their journeys to their big races. We still do sprint and olympic races together. Our training and race-prep are our version of what other girlfriends do with shopping, or book club, or Bunko. We yak and yak, catching up on kids, ex-husbands, boyfriends, dating, nutrition, and exercise plans. Its priceless time to unwind and workout the body and mind.
My triathlon season is over for the year. It goes from about April (if I'm ambitious) to September or October (if I'm still feeling it). Its hard to believe I've been doing triathlon for SIX years. I'm up to 24 or 25 tri or du races at this point. You would think I'd be an expert by now, but no, this sport evolves, and as I go into new seasons and try new races, I always am learning more.
This year my big revelation was that I do not plan to aspire to larger and longer races. After years of spring distance tris, I had it planned to spend 2012 doing olympic-length races. I did three. That is a lot because this length is not offered very often. I did no Sprint-lengths until the very end, the last weekend of September. I did it and it felt great. The olympic races did NOT leave me feeling great. I worried about my times and conserving energy and eating/drinking enough. My swims were steadily improving thanks to my lessons and my cycling was the same as always (read: I kick ass and take names), but my running was all over the place. The first olympic I did I ran/walked and felt really good with that. The second one I ran the whole way and was thrilled. The third I ran/walked the first 5k, but punked out and walked most of the second half. I was irritated that as the season went on, I did not feel I was improving.
The sprint I did at the end of the season wasn't the easiest one I've done. It was in a new venue and it was raining at the start. But it was OVER in an hour and 42 minutes! What's to complain about there? I was on to the free beer by the time I would've been starting the run on an olympic race!
I began with sprint distance triathlons back in 2007. I loved them. Fell IN love with them. I started doing them brand-new to the sport and slowly figured out how to improve my times and train better for a multi-sport. Then along the way I thought they were getting too easy, and I should "graduate" to a longer race. Much like I feel about doing 5Ks as I have graduated to10Ks, 10 milers, and half-marathons. I'm not even a runner, so why do I think I need to run longer to make it worth my while? Insane.
I know the desire to go bigger in triathlon was the influence of my tri buddies who are doing halfs and full-Irons. I thought I must keep up with them. Guess what? I can't. Ooohhh, the big-bad word CAN'T. Yeah, I said it. Its true.
|This guy looks like me too, about to fall over on the run....|
The full-Iron? Well that's another story. Its an unknown at this point if I physically COULD do it, but mentally I DON'T WANNA. Twice my longest swim, 112 miles on the bike (that's just not fun), and a full-marathon, which I've never done. Nope.
But if the olympics are not getting easier for me and yes, even though this is only the second season I've done them, I question my reasons for pushing it? I probably will do another olympic but I will choose different ones. No more CapTex or Austin Tri. Same-ish downtown Austin routes, too many participants, over-priced and basically not FUN. Waco, yes. That was fun, although the bike was cut short with a rainstorm. Kerrville, possibly. Marble Falls, hopefully.
If I want to continue to "heart" triathlon, I need to be smart about it. Do what keeps you sane, builds your confidence, and gives you a self-esteem boost to keep you wanting it. I can only train so many hours a week in this stage of my life. To be realistic, I shouldn't even be prepared for olympic tris or half-marathons, but I'm doing both.
Out of the many hats I'm wearing these days: Mom, audiologist, board member, teacher, coach, or friend, Triathlete is all for ME, and I want to keep it that way. Doing it for me, which makes me happy, which makes me a better whatever-hat-I'm-wearing person, which makes it all worth it.