In the second half of 2017, I started struggling with motivation and finding meaning in training for Ironman Louisville. I was questioning whether I want to be doing this, which can of course have an impact on training and racing. I got to Louisville with a “just get through it” attitude, planning on taking a 6-month-minimum break from tri afterward. I had a poor race and mindset through the swim and bike, but then had the run of my life off of what may have been my lowest run volume leading up to an Ironman. It turned that whole taking a break idea on its head! It felt like jeez, I should probably see if there’s more where that came from. I decided to play it by ear for the off season and see if I wanted to keep going in the spring.
Some motivation came back and I signed up for the Wildflower Triathlon (half iron, May 5th) with the thinking that it’d be a tune up for IM Boulder (June 10th). I thought it’d be a great idea to do an early season Ironman, then I’d have a good chunk of the summer to explore our beautiful state more and spend more weekend time with Janée. We got into backpacking last fall and man, it felt like this is what I want to be doing. This is what I’ve been looking for. But, training always got in the way, and I started to resent having all my free time dominated by it. For our first outing, I rode 60 miles, gaining 6,700′ over 4 hours to the trailhead in the Rawah Wilderness. My brick “run” was hiking a 30lb pack to our camp spot over 5.5 miles with another 2,700′ of gain. The next day, we checked out Twin Crater Lakes, packed up, and hiked out. It sounds like an awful lot of work for such a short trip, but I thought it was amazing. Another time, I rode 90 miles, had a 4 mile brick run, then we showed up to the trailhead in the dark and hiked in. Not ideal!
As training increased into the spring, the feelings I had during the fall started to creep back in, unfortunately, but I continued on. I got to Wildflower where I had also agreed to work the event, but got the short end of the deal because my counterpart needed to take a down day (DOT hours of service regulations) the day before the race. That meant I needed to unload 60 bikes, stand in the heat all day, reload all the bikes that weren’t picked up, all solo. I was exhausted just in time to prep for my race and head to bed, and it became a “just have fun with it” kind of race. I had a crappy swim followed by a lot of solo time on the bike, with my attitude not in the best place. So much for having fun with it, eh? Haha. It was during the bike that I decided I wouldn’t be racing IM Boulder and that I was actually going to take a break. I realized that I was training for this Ironman because I thought I should do it, not because I wanted to do it. The only thing that had been holding me back from cancelling was the thought of all the people who expected me to do it; all the coaching so far and all the people I’d told I would race it. It was surprisingly emotional for a bit there, and I think I even cried a little on the bike. Then, I got my first penalty in my racing “career.” For those who are familiar, it had to do with the “stagger rule,” and it did not give me any kind of unfair advantage so I am morally fine with it, but it certainly stung a lot. The run started with some stomach issues and I was running on egg shells for several miles (to try to prevent throwing up), but came around in the second half and ran alright. I think I finished around 20th, but didn’t really care. I was ready to move on.
Of course, everyone who I thought was “expecting” me to do it was incredibly supportive of my decision and my perception was all in my head…Contributing factors to the lack of motivation: I put a lot of pressure on myself in training. If I miss a workout, perhaps due to work (which has happened more lately as I take on more responsibility), it eats at me. If I miss a few, for me it’s like I might as well not even race if I can’t give it my all. Racing in the pro field: in the age group field, a poor showing was, ‘okay, well that’s about in line with my fitness;’ in the pro field, a poor showing was, ‘wow, that was embarrassing.’ Ha, me choosing to see it that way is on me and something I need to work on, but is a contributor. I also feel the need to put more into establishing a career, essentially a change in life priorities.
This year has been great. I put more energy into work without the constant concern about training time. I could focus on doing a better job at events without that added worry. I worked 70.3 Coeur d’Alene, which I love. Then I worked USAT Nationals in Cleveland, which I asked to go work because I grew up there and I’d get to see my family. I ended up being tapped to manage it, which was a bit intimidating with 400 bikes, but with that extra energy that I could devote to planning, we nailed it and it went incredibly well.
I then got to go work the 70.3 World Championship in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Never would I have imagined I’d go to Africa in a job involving transporting bicycles! We had a great time and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to go. It was also super cool to have great access to witness the pro action.
Then, I also went to the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii the following month! Kona is a lot of work for us and I didn’t have as much time to myself as I would’ve liked, but it was still a great opportunity to see the operations of that event from that side of things, along with being there without the (self inflicted) pressure that comes with racing it.
On top of that, we went on ten backpack/camp trips and saw some incredible scenery. Some photos from each one:
Eastern Utah in March:
Sangre de Cristos in southern/central Colorado in May:
Big South trail in Roosevelt National Forest in June:
North Rawah Trail to Lost Lake in June:
Wetterhorn Summit (14,015′) and Grand Mesa in July:
Island Lake in the Rawah Wilderness, July:
Roaring Creek in August…guess I didn’t take many photos that weekend:
Medicine Bow in September:
Aaaand Mt Zirkel Wilderness near Steamboat Springs in September:
Additionally, I got an awesome mountain bike and I’ve been having a blast on that thing and that’s been my main form of exercise all summer. I haven’t gotten a swim in since May, which is probably not a surprise for many who’ve witnessed me constantly struggle with it. It also took until the fall to legitimately have the desire to run again, although we obviously did a lot of hiking.
This break has been a bizarre experience – dropping something that’s been a part of my identity for such a long time, but it’s been liberating as well. The fact that I still don’t have a desire to race a tri again any time soon signals to me this hiatus was much-needed. I don’t feel like I’ve lived as much as I have this year in quite some time.