Monday, July 25, 2011

Identity Crisis

What words do you use to describe yourself?

I am a Catholic wife, mother, daughter and friend. I am an endurance triathlete and hobbyist photographer. I am passionate in all aspects of life - family and friends, work and hobbies.

And now, I am having a bit of an identity crisis.

For the first time since April 2008 I do not have a big, fat hairy goal to chase or a big race on the calendar .... and I am lost.

I promised myself during peak IMTX training that I would take a year away from the IM distance, focusing on shorter races with at least a 70.3 next year to keep me honest. This would also allow me to pursue other goals, like an ultra trail race and/or bucket list races like Escape from Alcatraz, Goofy's Challenge or the Nike Women's Marathon, to name a few.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Let me take a step back though …

You may be wondering why I would want to take a year away from the distance in the first place. This is easy to answer.

Training for an Ironman is selfish. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I do think that we should all do things for ourselves that are inherently selfish – but we also need to recognize it. Selfish is not a “bad” word but it is an opportunity cost.

No matter how time efficient you are, if you respect the iron distance, you have to train long on the bike and that means a long ride (or really a long brick) every weekend leading up to the race.

I trained for IMTX from January to May – so let’s call it 5 months training. During that time, there were at least 2 months where my long brick took me until well into the afternoon.

With two boys ages 4.5 and 7, I feel like the opportunity cost is too great to give up that much of my weekend to training. I am lucky in that my family 100% supports this passion of mine and has encouraged me to sign up for another iron distance race, but my own guilt is holding me back.

I think that my struggle, well part of it anyway, is that all of races I am considering are in 2012 and I need a goal NOW (any ideas on getting into the San Francisco Nike Women’s marathon this year?). Another issue I am facing is that I have come to identify myself as an endurance triathlete, so how do I see myself if I am not currently training for an Ironman?

I also know that next May when everyone locally is gearing up for IMTX again, I am going to be jealous instead of relieved that it is not me out there training and racing.

This is the crux of my struggle – what I want to do versus what I think it best for this period of my life for my family. I don’t want to look back and regret that I missed this time with my boys.

Yet another problem with taking a year off the IM distance is that the necessity of signing up for most races a year in advance means that I may be looking at taking two years away from the distance. Thank God for races like Rev3 Cedar Point and Red Man that allow you to sign up much closer to the race, but I digress.

On a whim, I signed up for a local Sprint Triathlon on August 7 and I have been trying to add speed to my workouts as a new type of challenge, but that still leaves 5 months on the 2011 calendar.

I am not sure what I am asking necessarily, but I needed to share my struggle.
Any suggestions on making the transition from long course to short course? Any races I should be considering? What should I focus on this Summer and Fall before picking a goal for 2012?

Thanks for reading!


Kristin Deaton said...

Are you doing Goofy next year 2012? I am and so is Colleen. But struggling with the distance I can only imagine having kids and trying to do everything. You might be jelous but there will always be another race, and you have a bucket list to get too. But I go through the same thing. Sometimes you need some time and work on shorter stuff and speed and the distance will call you back when you are ready.


Go to ultra distance running and sign up for Rocky Racoon 50 miler in Huntsville.
Less training, more time with family, great bucket list goal for endurance athletes.

Colleen said...

Oh Anne... you totally aren't alone! My problem lies in that I'm signed up for the full at CP THIS year and I'm not sure what to do. I switched to the half because I felt like I needed a recharge of sorts and now I'm totally regretting that, knowing that I've done enough training and have enough time in the next 7 weeks to get me to the start line. It's a never ending battle. For the last 3 years I've said I would do nothing over a 70.3, but every year I train for a 140.6. I can't stop. :) And I have two marathons in the fall and the goofy challenge in January. This, after telling myself that it would be a light year.

I wish I had advice and if you find a way to balance it all out, let me know! :)

tribirdie said...

Anne, I KNOW I will be writing this exact same post in a few months. I totally agree with your reasons for not doing another 140.6, but I said those same things last year after Cedar Point and then signed up for Lou a week later!! I wish I had some good advice, but all I really have is a long distance hug and an "I totally hear you girl".

Maybe try something brand new like Xterra :D

I will say my current "plan" for next year is to focus on core, strength training and limit myself to sprints and olys... weird right?

Matthew Smith said...

I think it's great that you're willing to prioritize your family first. I agree on the selfish thing although, like you said, it's not a bad word... I hope you can find some shorter races that keep you going without the crazy training needed for IM.

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

Dude - there is a little trail run in Huntsville the 2nd weekend of Dec...50k. Do that. You'll love it. The website won't be up for a couple more weeks.

I'll see ya at Bridgeland ... will be maning the tri club tent .. come on over for some shade!

Love and Puppies, Christy said...

I feel like I could have written this post! I went from IM and 1/2IM training straight into pregnancy (even though I had another IM on the caledar) and mentally, making the adjustment was sooooo hard. My husband is supportive of my racing IM again and I know that I WILL race IM again, but for now, spending time with him and our little baby are my top priority. I can still get my triathlon fix through sprints and olympics (and hopefully get faster with the reduced mileage?). I hope you are able to reconcile this with yourself too - it's a SUPER hard adjustment though and it will probably take awhile. Don't be too hard on yourself! And I'll see you at Bridgeland! :) As for other races this season - you could do the Oilman (formerlly Ironstar) - they have a relay if you didn't want to train for the whole thing. Or Longhorn. And there is the Houston Half and 25K in the fall. There are tons of marathons in the winter and then tri season picks up again in March...I cannot wait! Good luck!

Erin said...

I'm there too, only I have to figure out a new area. Pro: I can explore new things (like climbing a 14,000 peak with my new tri club). Cons: somedays, I don't want to try anything new. I want my old comfort zone back.

JZ recently wrote an article which I thought was interesting - you may be able to glean something from it.

Bill said...

Listen to your heart, mix it up with shorter and different events, and enjoy your kids. Life is full of trade-offs; we just have to find the right balance. The IM distance will be there when you're ready to return to that level of training. If you're interested in an away game, we've got several good Olympic distance and 70.3s in Florida.

Hollywood said...

If you're going to step away from fulls for a bit, start racing sprint and olympics. Try and find a series near you, and aim to place in that series. You can race every weekend doing short course if you really wanted to, and you get to see everyone from the 1hour sprint winners, to the first timers with mtn bikes. It's a fun time every time

Caratunk Girl said...

I get it, the IM blahs. You are used to training toward a goal, and then...that goal isn't there anymore! I like the idea of doing an ultra running event, training takes less time and it is still a badass goal.

Mark said...

Anne, I do not know HOW you manage everything.

Finding balance is really tough. I feel guilty every single time i sit on my bike, let alone going away for a race weekend.

Think of what an unbelievable example you are for your children though. That is what they will remember. I am sure they already tell all the children at school that "my mom is an Ironman!"

Just raising children is a "goal." We have days that I think managing the children is way more difficult than ironman stress.

Do what you feel is right. Rock on!

Cass said...

I too could've written this post. I'm dealing with the exact same thing right now. After IMTX, I'm taking IM distance off the table for a while. James (the husband) and I are planning to start a family - and IM training is counterproductive to that. I'm taking racing and all long distance stuff off the table. It's hard not having a training schedule or events on the calendar. I'm planning to go to IMCoz for my friends. I'm not sure how I'm going to feel being at an IM and not racing (or having any races planned). Instead, I've changed my focus. I'm still running a bit - much less (only 12ish miles per week). But I've been doing a LOT of yoga - typically 4-5 times per week. I've always wanted to do yoga but haven't had time with the training schedule. Now, I love it! I'm really suprised at the changes in my body - I've gained much strength and flexibility since IMTX. I've also been focusing on healthier eating and cooking. For me, not doing long distance has required a lifestyle change. Surprisingly, I look and feel good. I still have to run to keep me from going buggy - but other than that, the yoga is working!

Good luck! This is really hard. I'm right there with ya!

Ordinarylife said...

As I new mom I also struggle with the opportunity cost of an IM. Also my husband would divorce me if I tried to do another one.

I have decided that a 1/2 is much more manageable and most of the training can be done whilst my daughter is still asleep. It will be one day a week where I am away from her during the waking hours.

At least this is the plan - training began on Monday...