It’s only January and I’m talking about giving up. But it’s actually a really good thing, I promise…
My facebook post about this race came up in the “three years ago” memories. Joel sent it to me in a message with the comment – “I haven’t seen you look this happy in years.” He’s not wrong. I want to be this happy again and my 2022 path needs to change if I want to make that happen.
After limping through Kerrville last year, building to an Ironman seemed reasonably doable, even with a break. I took one in October, because I really, really needed it. Then as the weather started to be the loveliest version of fall, I started running again. It was going really well for a while! I resumed weight training and swimming too after joining a second gym, and it all seemed copacetic. Maybe the Ironman would be possible after all! In November, I think my hopes were the highest.
Then, in mid-December, I came down with cranky heel syndrome (yes, it’s the technical term). For about a month, even on vacation, we maintained cycling base (30-90 min rides) and strength work. I was pretty nervous by that point, but figured after I returned from the cruise, then I’d come back rested and hit it super hard. Instead, I returned sick as an effing dog, and I hit the bed and Pedialyte reps instead. I was terrified it was Covid, and thankfully tested negative, but still endured almost 2 weeks of low energy, digestive issues, major dehydration, and alternating between being a sleep monster (literally could only work and sleep) and unable to sleep because of some sort of skin reaction that made me itch like a mofo. I finally coaxed the demon out of my meatbag earlier this week, realized I’m 3 months away from Ironman and started freaking out.
This is not the way to start a year or a training cycle. So, maybe I just won’t.
I think I’ve decided to give up on Ironman Texas. I am not excited about it in the slightest. Ironman takes heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, and a whole lotta fire in your belly to complete. I have NONE of that toward this effort. It feels like an obligation me-three-years-ago made, so I “should” do it. Screw that. I wanted it in 2020. Putting in the work was a challenge that made me smile. Right now it doesn’t. When you think of something so beautiful as the Ironman experience, the inexplicable joy of suffering and rending your heart and soul bare, when you think of this as obligation, it’s the wrong fit. Period.
I don’t even care about the race entry fees. Making a decision to soldier forward on a bad path only due to sunk costs is a bad call. IM can consider my race fee a donation. However, I have never not started a race I signed up for except when I was injured. It’s a weird feeling to give up on it, since I don’t give up on things, but I deserve to pivot and change plans to chase my happy again. So, I shall.
Instead, we decided to sign up for ALL THE SMALLER RACES instead and chase that sh*t- eating grin of a hard-fought PR, age group medal, or just racing my arse off and feeling amazing at the finish line. In the span of 24 hours, I went from absolutely dreading everything about triathlon to smiling, thinking about the potential of the season to come, and making a race schedule and a training plan (which makes me smile because it is SO doable, where training for the IM was going to be a HUGE stretch. The utter dread has been replaced with sly smiles and utter enthusiasm. It feels SO GOOD to have the sword of Damocles that was Ironman no longer looming large. If I was iffy about my decision yesterday, I have no doubts today.
I’m looking at these potential races for the year:
- 3/26 South Padre (sprint)
- 4/3 Cal tri (Pflug) (sprint or olympic)
- 5/1 Texasman X50 5-1 (X-50)
- 5/21 No Label Tri (sprint)
- 6/6 Wincrest (super sprint)
- 6/26 Lake PF Tri (sprint)
- 7/10 Tri Waco (sprint, oly)
- 9/26 Kerrville (Half)
I don’t think I’ll sign up for all of them (the South Padre and No Label are the first that would drop off, in that order), but the idea of some more frequent race/camp weekends sounds like SO MUCH FUN. I get to return to X-50 at Texasman, which I really enjoyed in 2014 (wow, it’s been EIGHT YEARS?). It’s enough distance to encourage me to maintain some volume this spring, but not to the point where all I’m doing is long slow sloggy hours. I would like another crack at Kerrville to see if I can, by that time, race a half ironman instead of limp through one, but I’m open to doing the sprint or Olympic if the idea of some longer training sounds like an obligation instead of an exciting challenge.
This change also allows me to continue to focus on getting strong and body composition. In November, I couldn’t even do one pushup from my toes. Yesterday, I did two sets of ten as part of my circuit. It’s not the three sets of twenty I used to easily knock out but a large improvement from two months ago. I’m very motivated to keep going here. I feel like a sturdier human being with better posture, if nothing else. With the level of training I’m planning, sticking to an average of 1500 calories per day is actually very reasonable without negative impact to my body, and should net me some results.
Really, with the reset in goals, 2022 appears to now be mirroring 2018 instead of 2017. I spent the winter getting strong, losing weight, and working form. In the Spring, I raced shorter, more frequently, and I found my mojo and started placing at races. I’m starting ~5-8 lbs higher than I was in Jan 2018, but I’d love to replicate this:
It’s doable. It takes work, care, and attention. It also takes enthusiasm. And I feel that enthusiasm now, excited to solve the problem and undertake the challenge.
So, we embark. Here’s where I’m at right now and where I need to focus on the five sports:
Swim – I’m fully comfortable swimming 1-1.2k right now. I’m also slow AF right now because being injured degraded my form. My back is fine now, but my stroke is still janky. So, next steps?*
- Swim 2x week. No pressure to rush into longer swims than 20-30 mins, but just getting to the pool twice a week is key.
- Bring the toys and do drills. Now that I’m not worried about building my distance to swim for 2.4 miles, I can work on my form so I can swim faster.
- Once my form feels like a fish and not a flounder, do some speedwork. But that’s not useful until I feel like I’m gliding through the water instead of muscling through it.
*With omicron spreading like wildfire right now, I’m avoiding the gym for a bit. The pool is the FIRST place I’ll feel comfortable returning to, especially the outdoor pool at Lifetime, but I’m going to give it one more week to stay away from humans just to make sure.
Bike – I’m at a comfort level of 60-90 minutes on the trainer, which should easily translate to about 1.5-2 hours outside casual road riding. I’ve been eschewing any level of effort simply to build distance since 2020, since that’s been necessary. Now it’s not! My Spring “A” Race is 40 miles on the bike, which on the TT, should take me a little over 2 hours. So, while I need to not COMPLETELY neglect some distance riding, I can focus on getting faster which just made me go “wheeeee” and also “ieeeeee” at the same time.
- This means the dreaded FTP tests should start soon. February 1st, I’m looking at you. I need to look at it like my weight progress – this is where I’m at right now – and focus on making the 2022 number go up, not looking at how many watts I’ve lost since 2019.
- My trainer rides mayyyybe need to be a little more focused than just watching Bloodbowl games and pedaling easily each time. Definitely 1x week needs to be speedwork if not more often. Bloodbowl games can prompt speedwork too (sprint for 60 seconds every time an elf gets injured!).
- But also, when the Austin allergy season dies down, I need to do some outdoor rides in the sunshine. These make my heart happy.
Run – my comfort level is unknown. At present time, my cranky heel is feeling happy and fine, so I’m ready to try again.* This is another area where my back injury is still effing with my form. Thankfully, if I am not worried about ramping distance so quickly, I can work on that!
- I need to refresh myself on my pre-run drills, concentrate on my form during the run, and work hip flexibility. This helped me decrease my pace a lot in 2018, and it can work for me again this year.
- Speedwork needs to return to my life. I’m fine keeping the runs shorter for the next two months (3-5 miles) if I can cut my pace from the 12 minute/miles closer to 10. We do this by running faster in shorter intervals.
- I do owe myself a half marathon as a 3M virtual race, but I’ll just keep the shirt around and worst case, I’ll earn it at Kerrville completing the half. I do love long runs, I love them SO MUCH, but I need to earn the right to run again instead of faking it.
*Some unknowns about how often I can run as Austin’s air is often trying to kill me and I don’t really feel comfortable enough to run in a gym on a treadmill (read: breathe heavy around a lot of people during this Omicron BS). However, I’m willing to endure a little bit of allergy malaise to try to get out 2-3x week for short jaunts.
Strength (the 4th sport): I’ve talked about this a lot, so the only thing I have to say is I’m committed to hitting this three time a week, doing whatever the trainer says to do. Like I’ve done every week since November except the week I was sick. Non. effing. negotiable. Nuff said. Let’s move on.
Nutrition (the 5th sport): Ok, here we go. I know what needs to be done. I just need to do it. Let’s call this #projectraceweight, Take 4. I’m just cutting and pasting past me’s planning and wisdom from March 2018:
- Eat 1500 calories or less UNLESS it’s that special once a week splurge day IF you need it.
- Eat good quality food 90% of the time.
- Don’t eat random crap just because it’s there. If you splurge, do it because you absolutely MUST HAVE THE THING and do that not very often.
- This actually means a lot to you, so don’t eff it up with self-sabotage.
- This is temporary and you are really good at maintaining your weight* once you settle somewhere, so you won’t have to be this neurotic forever.
*except in times of a pandemic, I guess.
All in all, I’m energized, excited, and so relieved to be following 2018’s path instead of 2017’s. Something about the shift just flipped my confidence on, I believe in myself instead of being filled with doubt and I think that’s going to make all the difference this year. I’ve made this journey before, and previous versions of myself been kind enough to detail a path to success, leaving myself this map and plan via year of blog posts, telling me how to return to my happy place.