Lots of words in this one...
To say this post is long over due is a bit of an understatement. I have been wanting to get some thoughts down in writing for a long time...not that many people care to hear them I'm sure but I feel the need to document what I have been through physically and emotionally over the past few months. Truth be told, it has taken me this long to process everything and I think I still have much more to figure out.
It has been a bit of a roller-coaster the past few months. After Alabama I had a small knee injury that kept me from riding and running for a month. I started back, found some form to build on, and then got a stress fracture. Amazes me that I was able to get through the biggest block of training of my life in prep for IM St. George without even the slightest injury. Guess this brings me to my next point. At this point in the season I think I was still drained mentally from Ironman and all the other races that quickly followed. Looking back I have to admit that Ironman took its toll, not so much physically (although I think destroyed muscles from IM lead to greater risk of injury) but more mentally. I don't know how people can race Ironman year after year. Honestly, I can't help but think racing this distance for many years and too often really limits your potential as an athlete. Even if your focus is Ironman I think two a year is max (one is ideal) if you want to do well and there needs to be very few races between those two efforts to assure you maximize your abilities. I am just a big believer that over a lifetime we only have so many race efforts in our body and mind...some races take more out of us then others but racing is hard in all respects and I think a lot of people ignore this and fill the schedule with races b/c that's what you do in the summer. Enough about that but certainly something I think is worth mentioning.
So, I haven't run in over 6 weeks now (well aside form a couple short runs to see if the fracture is healed) and I won't until after I get back from Kona. With this said, I missed Xterra Nationals and I won't be racing in Kona or Maui. The season came to an abrupt halt with the stress fracture and I am pretty bummed about it. Some people said just go do the swim and bike. My argument here is why spend all this effort to get ready for races I can't even finish? I am not going to walk a marathon on a stress fracture...first of all that's just stupid and second of all finishing Kona is just not that important to me. Also, I never intended to go to Kona to just finish. Not even close. I do this sport for one reason and that to see how far I can push my body (when I am healthy and fit). I decided to not race b/c I think just swimming and riding will leave me more disappointed then not starting the race. Someday I will go back and race the race but for now I just need to step back and get some perspective.
Honestly, it was very hard for me to step away and accept what was happening. Emotionally I was broken down b/c I just don't feel I have it in me to battle back from another injury...I have done it a lot over the past few years and it is draining on all levels. On the other hand, I wondered if there was so way I could get past this injury, find some fitness, and still race well.
Thing is I'm not getting any younger and while I didn't achieve all of my ultimate goals I feel I can look back and say I gave it my best shot. Truthfully, I think I have a lot more potential in this sport but to reach that potential requires several more years of very hard work, which I don't think I have in me. I am not naturally talented by any means. Everything I achieved came from a lot of time and effort in all three sports. Plus, I am not living in a bubble....guys now are so crazy fast and while I feel I can still pop some decent results (mainly on the Xterra circuit) I am not going to be one of the best in the world. I just don't think I have the talent. This is a pretty hard pill to swallow but I think it took really giving it a shot and putting myself out there to see what was possible. Now I look back knowing I gave it my all, I achieved some of my goals, and I don't regret focusing on racing for one second.
So, I think in all of this (the past few months) I came away feeling like it's time to stop racing competitively. While I feel like I have a lot of room for growth I am not sure I have that "fire" anymore. If you don't have that "fire" and determination you won't ever make it. Part of me wonders if I was 100% healthy and fit right now would I feel that same sense of "mental fatigue?" Who knows but I can say that starting this year I had a good idea that 2011 would be my last year of serious racing. I just really hate for it to end this way.
This sounds like another sob story so I apologize. In reality, I will certainly continue to get out on the bike and run with buddies. Probably even jump into some fun bike races with the boys but the days of pouring my heart and soul into the sport of triathlon are over. I love this sport for so many reasons and my decision to back away really is bittersweet. On one hand, it crushes me that I can't finish out the season (and my career for that matter) the way I hoped and, on the other hand, I am ready for the next step and challenge in life. I have always been one to have something else in my life (work related) besides sport to balance things out and for me this has been Skinfit and coaching.
Skinfit is something I love working on. We have some really exciting things in the works and I can literally spend all day hammering out work and feel great about it. It's fulfilling. I am looking forward to more time with Jess, family and friends. For so many years it was about about training and racing. I loved it but it prevented me from doing a lot of things I wanted to do and love doing. I want to spontaneously take trips with friends for the adventure not necessarily to get in good training. I long to pursue my other passions and interests in life without feeling guilty for not logging the miles with specific races in mind. I by no means want to come off bitter b/c I am far from it. I guess in short, I just want to chase new adventures with the same passion that I chased the sport of triathlon. If I can do this I will die a happy man!
So, for now I have put racing aside and I am getting out on the bike b/c I love it. No training plan or goals in mind just rolling along to stay fit, healthy and happy. There is a sense of relief in this. I guess when you feel this it really is time to step back. Can't wait to start running again b/c when I am running trails it's probably the one time I truly feel myself and I'm at peace with everything. On to the next chapter in life...I wondered when the day would come. One could probably say it was hurried along by injury but I have always promised myself that when my desire to race is gone its time to walk away without any regret and pour your heart and soul into something else that inspires and motivates you. Lucky for me, I have no shortage of things in my life that do just that!