Yes, it has been almost 4 months since I've blogged! Whoops. Sometimes you need a little break though, and after a long and in many ways trying 2013 triathlon season I definitely needed some time to step back, think some things through, and recharge.
After Ironman Cozumel in early December I found myself at a very low point mentally. It had been a tough year with an early season hip imbalance followed by a mid-season ankle sprain which kept me from running on all cylinders in training. Things started turning around just before Ironman Wisconsin in early September but without sufficient run training under my belt I wasn't quite able to pull off a miracle on race day. After a couple of outings at REV3 events and a decent block of training I felt ready to put together a solid effort in Cozumel. The setting was gorgeous, the vibe was good, and who doesn't enjoy capping off the season with a tropical race-cation?! Unfortunately while the trip was a lot of fun, the race itself proved to be a bitter disappointment which left me questioning whether or not I still wanted to be involved in the sport. In retrospect, I didn't fully do my homework prior to the race and failed to realize how a completely flat, looped course would create a hotbed for drafting which drastically affected the race dynamic. It was discouraging to work so hard to get into a good position during the bike only to be swallowed up by a veritable peloton in the latter section of the ride, and even worse to realize that try as I might to stay in a legal position the only true way to do that would be to sit up and let the entire field ride past---or attempt to re-pass everyone at once and power away from the field off the front, which I tried multiple times unsuccessfully before figuring out I was burning up all of my matches. The rest of my day was pretty sour; I was mad at the apparent lack of integrity amongst my fellow competitors, mad at the complacency of the draft marshals (although I'm not sure how they would have enforced the rules with that many riders), and mad at myself for getting stuck in a position where my race was being so strongly impacted by other athletes. If only I had swum a little stronger or if only I had pushed the pace earlier in the bike ride...then maybe I wouldn't have gotten caught up in the drafting mess, and I would have had a clean race that I could have been proud of. Instead I finished off the day disheartened, ashamed, and ready to throw in the towel. It was a pretty terrible way to end an already lackluster season. Unfortunately there weren't any convenient races left on the calendar to jump into and try to redeem myself, and frankly I didn't have the energy to do that anyway.
So I took some time off. I stepped away from swim-bike-run and became a Bikram yogi for a month. I lifted weights five days a week. I drove my car to work everyday. I baked my first turkey and had such a great experience that I baked two more. I explored downtown Ogden and visited all the shops on Historic 25th Street. I took a trip to Indiana to see friends and family. All the while I mulled over my feelings about triathlon and my place in the sport. I asked myself some tough questions and thought about how my life would change if I were not involved in triathlon in the same way anymore, and whether I was ready to make that transition. And the answer is yes---but not quite yet. After easing back into some training I have found that the fire is still there, I'm enjoying the process of rebuilding my fitness, I've got some fresh goals driving me, and I'm looking forward to toeing some starting lines and achieving a new level of competitiveness this season. Most importantly, I'm excited to get back to "racing happy" and regaining a sense of joy and playfulness that got a little lost in the shuffle last year.
So where can you find me this year? I'm currently doing some local running races to ramp up for my tri-season kick-off, which will be on May 17th at REV3 Knoxville. I've committed to doing most of the REV3 races this year, with a few 70.3 and Ironman races sprinkled in. I'd like to revisit Madison in September and put together the type of race I know I'm capable of on that course. I've decided that I'm not interested in running myself ragged trying to chase points to qualify for Kona. The last two years I over-raced and never really peaked; this year I'm planning to race less often but with an eye for much higher quality at my target events. It's going to take some patience and self-control, especially with the season already in full swing and impressive performances happening every weekend---but with a little faith in my training, added to the support of a good team around me, I should be able to put together something special this year.
See you at the races!