Now that Spring has finally arrived in Calgary, I am finding myself constantly fielding the question, “So, what are you racing this year?”; which is as common through the triathlon community and most of my friends as, “so how about that weather out there?” It’s polite, it indicates an interest in your interests, so I don’t fault people for asking. This year I find myself fumbling around with words, murmuring in my response. The answer is I haven’t planned to race anything this year, not really.
In the last five years (or we can back it up to eight years if you look at the official start of my triathlon ‘career’) I have found it nearly impossibly to keep my foot heavy on the gas year after year for training and racing. I know many amazing age-group athletes that do; they knock out a half-iron and full iron triathlon distance annually, sometimes throwing a marathon or gran fondo in there “just for fun”. As for me; I cannot seem to replicate year after year heavy training loads. I tend to get sick, get injured, or get really, really cranky. I crave variety, I crave new challenges (I am a Seven on the Enneagram, after all) and I crave new scenery. I admire my triathlon counterparts who can stubbornly race the same distance year after year after year seeking extra minute here, extra five minutes there, but it’s just not in my blood.
Instead of fighting it, I am doing my best to embrace it. After a heavy running year in 2013, I have spent much more time on my bike(s) in 2014, including meeting one of my goals of joining a Mountain Bike Club. I have been participating in their Learn to Race program with great enjoyment, I’m getting pushed out of my comfort zone (and maxing out my heart rate) on those Wednesday nights. I am nursing a knee injury that very slowly and stubbornly is getting better, and am enjoying swimming in the mornings on Tuesday and Thursday. As I look down the barrel of the summer, I have taken a pencil and sketched out three possible races I might do.
But I might not do those races. I might not if I’m tired. I might not if my knee is still bugging me. I might not if Jon and I decide to go camping instead. I can quite literally shrug this off; I love the training so why wouldn’t I continue with that? I have to cool my jets on the internal dialogue you’re not an athlete if you’re not racing, you’re simply athletic. My new internal script is more like this: Athlete for life. New challenges, new terrain, new chances. It’s you vs. you.
I know by kicking around this summer (I do know I will be swimming ATLS, because it’s probably the most fun weekend of my entire summer) it will allow me to totally reload for 2015. I know that I can probably tackle another marathon, and maybe some other cool feat I have my eye on; I can continue to improve my MTB skills so I can try to ride with Jon, but more so that I can tackle more terrain than I am currently able. Really, more than anything, what I want is to be happy. I want to train because training makes me happy, I want to build a garden in our backyard because that makes me happy, I want to work on making our new home ours, I want to spend time outside in the sunshine, with my friends (triathletes and non) all because it makes me happy. If there is a race tossed in there, it will be for fun. Because it makes me happy, not because I have to race it to prove I’m an athlete, not because I have to conform to the weird pressure I can put on myself. Happiness.