Sunday, October 4, 2009

In Transition

In the northern US, this is the time of year that most triathletes are either gearing up for their biggest race of the season (note: Ironman Hawaii is next weekend) or winding down after their last race. And it wasn't much different when I was a marathon runner (upcoming marathons in October: Columbus, Chicago and Detroit).

This year, my situation is a bit different. I planned my whole season around Ironman Coeur d'Alene, and when I didn't get that Kona slot, I somehow managed to regroup in time to find a race and qualify for the Ironman 70.3 championship in Clearwater, Florida on November 14. Most of my plans were not plans at all, and now I feel I'm scrambling to come up with a plan with six weeks left, dodging the post-vacation doldrums, training in the midst of the scramble to prepare for and work my employer's biggest event, Boo at the Zoo, and fighting my own lack of motivation to train outside when the temperature drops. And to top things off, my sudden increase in training volume has left me with several illnesses that have further dented my training schedule.

I struggle to cope with the limitations that come with age and changing interests. I can no longer "whip" myself into shape like I could when I was 18. Back then, after a summer of inactivity, I could start swimming at the end of August and manage an all-time PR by November. Nowadays, one hard swimming session could mean several days off with an injury. I also struggle with accepting that my life has changed and my main focus is not always triathlon. This has been the hardest thing to come to grips with. When I'm out on that Clearwater course and my speed on the bike is not what "it could be," will I remember what I sacrificed it for? Will I remember that week spent in Italy being blown away by great art, great architecture, great food and a great time with my husband? Will I remember the time we spent with great friends in London? Heck, will they even care if I don't do my best in Clearwater?

It's all a trade-off -- how to be happy with what I have and doing what I love instead of kicking myself for not being faster or stronger. So this year, for the post season, whether I do well or crash and burn, I've made plans to celebrate the end of the season in Orlando the next two days. And then make plans for Ironman Lake Placid 2010. New age group. New attitude.

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