As I saw pictures on social media pop up….. photos of 6,7,8 water bottles on tables next to bike trainers…. I smiled to myself. These days my long rides entail 2 hours.
2 hours of pedal to the metal mind you, but 2 hours. Never have I felt so grateful to have moved on from Iron distance racing than I was that day. While they were sitting on trainers watching Netflix I was snowshoeing around. Underneath a blue sky, with big white snowflakes coating trees like blankets. I breathed in the crisp cool air, the kind of air that reminds you that you are alive. While of course I snowshoe and ski with my phone… I rarely take it out. I can’t ruin the moment. I can’t ruin the scene. It’s forever and ever captured in my mind.
It’s pure beauty at its best.
I have been doing a fair amount of XC skiing and snowshoeing the past few weeks. Next season when the snow rolls around again I have set the goal to actually COMPETE on both. If I had been quicker on the draw I would have done it this season. I kick myself for being behind the ball on that!
My decision to leave long course racing has never felt so right. I am not saying everyone should, and it’s certainly a huge part of the lives of the athletes that I coach. I love coaching the distance more than I love racing it.
And I have embraced the thrill … along with the absolute blood in the back of your throat feeling of short course.
My coach guided me through one of the most difficult running blocks of my entire life the past several weeks. Not hard because of the mileage. In fact none of my runs exceeded 30 minutes and just this past week held the most frequency. He guided me through changing the way I run. Mechanics were THE focus. Since I am not chasing Iron I have the ability to do that, over chasing long runs in January.
I did the same thing in the pool. After a swim meet a few months ago and a sub par performance we started doing weekly analysis of my stroke via video. All I have done the past month is drill. Drill. Drill. Those workouts were more physically exhausting than 10×100 on 1:20.
Instead of being too exhausted to execute strength work, it’s been my focus. Running form, swimming form, the works. My abs are definitely made of steel. Whether you can see them or not is a different story!
As I stand here on February 1st though, I can feel things beginning to come together. At the ripe age of 41 I feel reinvented, renewed, refocused. I have come a long way and I have longer to go. I am excited and it’s not the forced… I have my Ironman act together this season…. excitement. It’s the … hell I don’t think I have ever done this before…. kind of excitement.
I feel grateful to have personally moved on from the distance (for now at least, never say never) because I actually have the capacity to live my life 100% again. Without the residual fatigue of a 6 hour ride. It’s a wonderful place to be. There were times not too long ago that I worried I would never leave it behind. That I’d be chasing Iron forever, afraid to step off the path.
The semester has begun and life is moving in full swing again. Our students are back in the lab and some are seeing the pieces of nursing click together for the first time while others see the light at the end of the tunnel of our program, and it’s not a train!
I am clicking along with my graduate studies, one class at a time. Having energy for that is amazing. Last round of grad school I was asleep in class. Thanks to my obsession with Ironman!
I finally feel that I have found the right balance with my sport, and careers. I remain crazy in love with triathlon, it’s been my life for two decades. At the end of the day triathlonn and triathlon coaching remains a luxury. I don’t feel 100% comfortable having 100% of my life be in a luxury industry.
Enter nursing and nursing education. What I get to be part of at this stage of my nursing career is helping to create future nurses. The deeper I get into the field the deeper I want to go.
I never envision my life as one of these without the other though. It’s my yin and yang. Both of these pieces complete me.
As I ran across the snow covered field yesterday, focusing on my knee lift, feeling strong, feeling alive….. I felt so relieved. Relieved that it’s no longer my goal to trudge a Saturday away watching reruns on a bike in the basement. Relieved that I freed myself enough to be out in the sunshine and the winter air. The scenery can’t be manufactured, can’t truly be captured and definitely can’t be topped. I am grateful that those whom I know who are on their bikes in their basements are chasing their dreams…. don’t get me wrong. I am proud of them… some of those people are my athletes. Big things happen there.
But on that front my big things have happened. I was chasing something I could no longer chase, and at the same time I was terrified to step off of it. I don’t know if turning 40 did something to me, but I am more comfortable with me than I have ever been (and I have always been pretty comfortable being me!). I am at the stage of my life where something old shall remain something old. Something new awaits me around every corner.
No regrets going backwards, and no regrets going forward.