I have a long ago friend (I'm talking 20+ years ago, but thanks to Facebook we have found each other) with a blog called "Really what was I thinking?" Her blog is about running her first marathon. This week a voice in my head has been repeating that line to me over and over.
Ironman? Really? What was I thinking?
I love running. It's simple. You put on your shoes and you go out the door. You can run from work. You can run on vacation. You can run WITH your children while they sit in the stroller. You can run in the dark and have your entire day's exercise complete before your family gets up. Aside from a few pairs of running shoes a year (and in my case, custom orthotics) it's free. You can run with other people and make some of your best friends while you get in your sweat quota. I love love love running.
So why do I tri?
Flashback to March 2010. I was on mile 17 in the Shamrock Marathon when I felt a sharp pain in my left foot. The rest of the race was excruciating but I hobbled to the finish with my slowest time on record (a personal worst I topped during my next marathon when I was pregnant with Jack.) My foot swelled up the next day and it hurt to walk, and an x-ray confirmed I had a fractured metetarsel. The doctor said I could swim right away and bike after a few weeks, but no running for 6 weeks. So I started swimming, bought a bike so I could get some exercise outside, and then decided I needed a race to focus on. I figured my foot would be healed enough to run 3 and a half miles in 12 weeks, so I signed up for the DC Triathlon.
Admittedly I have an obsessive personality. That summer became the obsessed with triathlons summer. Every time I did a race I'd sign up for a longer distance, and I finished up the summer with the Rev3 Cedar Point Half Iron distance. Then two weeks later I got pregnant with Jack, so I had to put all the tri gear away. I now owned a tri bike, shoes, pedals, a wet suit, a bike rack.. the list goes on and on. I had only the bare bones and it still cost a fortune. So I had to use it again as soon as possible. I ran and swam most of the pregnancy and two weeks after he was born I was back on the bike. I did a sprint triathlon 9 weeks after he was born and an Olympic four months from his birth day. (Don't get too impressed. I came in second to last in my age group on the Olympic and my sprint time was pretty pathetic as well.)
I put away my bike for the winter and really focused on running and found my life was, well, simpler when all I did was run. It was easy to get in all my miles before dawn most days of the week and I easily completed an advanced level marathon training program that peaked at 60 miles per week. I had a great winter training season, but figured I'd be ready to get back on the bike when tri season started up. And with three races (Olympic, Half, and Ironman) on my schedule I thought I'd be really motivated.
But I'm feeling discouraged for a few reasons. In order:
- There is just too much freaking stuff to worry about with the bike. Like if you are 10 miles out and get a flat and you are Gretchen Lynch and therefore unable to change a flat very well even though you've attended multiple workshops and watched the youtube tire changing clip at least 10 times, how will you get home? Or worse, you are 18 miles out with your father on a deserted country road and his derailluer cracks (thank goodness there were three of us on the ride so someone could go back and get the car...) Then there is the gear involved. Every time you get a flat it's $7 for a new tube. Your chain breaks ($60), your cleats wear thin ($40), etc. etc. etc. Oh and let's not forget that people like to steal bikes and can pretty much break any lock you can buy. So I am never comfortable leaving it on the bike rack, meaning I can't ride in the morning after dropping off the kids and then stop at a store before collecting them from daycare. And of course there are safety issues, mainly the falling over part which I used to do pretty much every ride but I've gotten much better at remembering to take my feet out of the pedals before stopping.
- The bike workouts are so hard to get in without sacrificing family time. Unlike running and swimming I can't do them at 5 a.m. unless it involves sitting my tush on the bike trainer in the basement. Which I absolutely can't stand. It is like treadmill hell to the infinite power. But it may be the only way to get some of these workouts in since I have made myself a "no exercise after 5:30 p.m. for 6 days of the week" rule. And the long rides... anywhere from 3-6 hours. I don't think my long runs ever exceeded three and a half hours. I'm still trying to figure out where I'm going to put the long rides on days when I have other commitments on Saturdays. Sunday is family day and I will not make it a regular ride time.
-It really really annoys me the amount of money people spend on their bikes and how this makes you faster in the sport. With running and swimming, it's all about you. No gear is going to speed you up. But with the cycle leg of the triathlon -- sure, leg power is a huge factor, but so is the price of your ride. My bike is a cheapie in the world of triathlon and it was $1400. I know people who paid more for their tri bike than I paid for my car. Then there are all the thing to put on your bike to make it "aerodynamic" AKA faster. Disc wheels ($2400 a set? For bike wheels???.) An aerohelmet ($300.) Special "aero" water bottles ($99.) It just doesn't seem right. I feel like everyone's bike should have to be made out of the same material, and things like disc wheels and aerohelmets shouldn't be allowed. Would I use the disc wheels and aerohelmet if I had unlimited funds? Sure. But I still wouldn't think it was fair that I was a little bit faster because I was able to pay for it.
-Finding time to swim with Jamie out of town is a pain in the bum. I love swimming at 5:30 a.m. It's almost as if that time never existed, like the twighlight zone. I am half alseep when I get there, the workout flies by, and I feel like my day really begins when I get home from the pool and spend quality time with my kids. These past two weeks it has involved making a childcare appointment and taking a big chunk out of my evening.
There is, however, nothing like the feeling of flying down a hill on a sunny day at 30 miles an hour. Or swimming in open water. I don't regret signing up for the Ironman and I know I need to just remain positive. But in Kate's words, on days like today, my mind won't stop nagging me. "Really, what was I thinking?"