Last year, I poo poo’d virtual races. Doing a “race” without the community, without a finish line, without a competition and a podium, this seemed silly to me. My drawers are overflowing with race shirts and medals, I didn’t need any more. Frankly, I was a bit burnt out with racing and training – trying to maintain Ironman level training during a very packed year professionally and personally – and I had ZERO desire to race if it wasn’t… a race.

I took a breath, and let go of being an athlete, while also mourning that IM Texas wasn’t going to be a thing. My “long day” workout (1 hour swim, 5 hour bike, and 2 hour run) the week before the world shut down was the closest I would come to being a two-time Ironman. When the race cancellation was announced, it was a bit of relief but I also felt a bit of sadness. I was barely holding on, but I was closing in on the end of the last big block of training and the start of taper. Could I have gotten to the finish line? I believe so. But, I never got the chance to find out.

So, I gave myself the rest of March and April to just slack. And then all of a sudden it was June. Once we had our pool set up, we did a little sprint tri, which was fun, but then… I just lost interest in doing anything difficult, since life was kinda difficult already. I swam… a few times. I biked more than anything since it was easy to hop on the trainer. I stopped running when it got warm and then by the time it was cooler my back/core was in shambles because I also stopped stretching and doing strength. I walked a lot and took a lot of pictures. I wasn’t a complete couch potato but it just wasn’t… me.

And then all of a sudden it was New Years Day, and I ran 1 mile. And it was HARD, y’all.

January’s goal was to run or bike every day, stretch every day, and do strength 3x week. I missed four days total, but I’ll still call that a win, considering my garmin connect log for the last 6 months. I worked my way up to 30 minute bikes and 2 mile runs. I maintained my stretching and core strength routine. My back still bothers me, but it’s been hurting a little less each week. I feel increasingly less like a sack of potatoes when I go out for my short little jogs. Progress is happening at the speed of molasses on a winter day, but happening it is.

Joel happened on Ironman VR races two weeks ago, and decided to sign up. I hesitated. 1 mile run, 20k bike, 5k run? That’s wayyyyy beyond me in one session right now, but I had 4 days. I was able to get it done in 3. We bought the damn shirt and medal because you know what? It’s been a year. A full year since I toed a start line. I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I guess I actually do kinda miss the race schwag even if I can’t have the rest of the experience.

The first and last Casa de Jank 2020 Tri and the only time I wore my new Austin Triathlon Club kit. Hopefully it will get some wear in 2021.

This weekend, they doubled the distance. I crunched the numbers. A 2 mile run, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run is a LOT for me right now, but I thought I could break it up and have a chance. The plan was the 2 mile run and a little bit of biking Thursday, a big push on the bike Friday, the rest of the bike and 2 miles of running on Saturday, and 4.2 miles of run/walk Sunday. I missed starting the bike Thursday because I had about 8 hours of meetings and was just… spent after work, so I had to do more cycling on Friday than planned (I did half at lunch and half after work to get in 16 miles total). Yesterday’s brick ride (9 miles) and run (2 miles) really familiar and nice. Today’s 4.2 mile run/walk was a lot, but I have this really nice soreness in my legs that I haven’t felt for a while and my back seems to be stiff, but holding up alright.

I would NEVER have done this much without virtual racing. I guess I need the motivation, so I’m going to keep doing them. Next weekend’s race is back to the sprint distance. I think I’m going to try to do most of it at once. Can I actually swing 20k on the bike and 3 miles of running or run/walking at one time? I’ll give it a try on Saturday and leave Sunday to finish some run miles if I need.

I need virtual racing right now. I need something that provides reasons for me to get my ass out and do sporty things. I’m a shade of who I was a year ago. It’s going to be a long road to rebuild what I had. Qualifying for Nationals again? Completing my second Ironman? I’m not there, not even close. But I’m now on the path, and since I’ve walked it before, I know where it leads.