IT’S NOT IRONMAN!
I sense some hairs prickling already. So let me preface this post: finishing Ironman is one of the accomplishments I am most proud of. I think it is wildly impressive feat and if you’re on the fence about doing one, all I can only say is that it is a journey in which you will astonish yourself, learn intimate details about yourself (maybe more than you want to know), you will sweat, probably cry, maybe bleed — and understand exactly why people do it when you cross the finish line. And conversely, if you don’t want to do an Ironman, that’s OK too.
I frequently (commonly, aka almost daily) get asked when I’m doing my next Ironman. Response: No time soon!
My goals have shifted and changed, but that doesn’t mean I’m working any less hard. In fact I’m working harder than ever. Differently, but harder. This year I qualified for another World Championship Event — and it never fails when I mention Hawaii (even Maui specifically) in October that the first response is “Kona?!?” Response: Nope! Most people don’t know that Xterra [off road triathlon] hosts a World Championship event there as well. And also, just for the record Kapalua (Maui) and Kona (the Big Island) are actually on different islands entirely.
When I tell people I qualified for Maui sometimes they follow up with: “So, what is next? Kona?” Or “When are you going to Kona?” I suppose it should be a compliment that anyone thinks that is a feasible feat for me — Kona qualifying is no joke — but it has turned into a little pet peeve. As though that were the ONLY goal. Currently I don’t really want to go to Kona (gasp!). I want to go to Maui, and Utah, and Colorado. Thanks to Henry’s obsession with cx and the Redbull channel I was able to find avenues of racing that I truly love – like I never loved Ironman.
I get asked all the time what my next race is and I will tell people “so and so Xterra” to which their follow up question is often “What about an Ironman? Any long distance stuff coming up?” Response: Nope!
I think triathlon gets many people into cycling and one of the ultimate goals in triathlon has become IRONMAN. But it doesn’t end at the M-Dot. There are so many types of cycling out there that many people never get to experience: cyclocross, gravel riding, mountain biking, downhill riding, road racing, crits, track racing, bike packing, bike touring, and more I haven’t been exposed to yet I’m sure. I loved getting to teach two of our women about cyclocross when they came to watch the race at Riverfront a couple weekends ago! I love our women’s mountain bike clinic when women who have never even been on a mountain bike come give it a try. More often than not there are smiles. No one has left cursing me yet …. at least not that I’ve heard.
I consider myself a triathlete first, but mountain biking and cyclocross have made me a better triathlete – a better athlete in general really. Sometimes we get so caught up in the gear, the routine and the measured, exacting, prescribed workouts of triathlon that we lose sight of the joy in just riding. Different types of riding teach you new skills and make you more comfortable on the bike. They introduce you to new sports, new ways of riding, new communities. You might even find a new love like I did.
So maybe this winter, get off your trainer and onto a CX bike. Go watch a mountain bike race. Try a downhill clinic. Or go for ride. Just ride with no power goals, no HR restrictions, no minimum distance/duration – go ride somewhere new. Borrow a mountain bike and find a new trail. Sure you might have to hike-bike some, but more than likely it will be an adventure. I’m all for training and racing – believe me I follow a training regime, but I’m also equally for mental and physical recovery, breaking the routine and having some fun!! Which I believe is undervalued in some endurance athletes. So after Maui what’re my goals? Take a little time off, eat some ice cream, drink some [more] beers, ride my mtb just for fun, do a cx race, hike with my dog and then take a look at 2018 because I will certainly be racing next year. Just please don’t ask me when my next Ironman will be – because the response remains the same: No time soon! I’m having wayyy too much fun NOT racing Ironman.
Let me know when you want to go on an adventure ride 🙂
p.s. re-read the first paragraph if you think I hate Ironman, I promise I don’t!