As I promised earlier, this is the big update. I took a break from blogging (more on that in a minute) but not from training. For a while it was looking like I was going to be able to close the speed gap and go into the IM with a good chance of finishing under all the cut off times. Then I got sick, and my training slipped, and I just haven’t been able to close the gap, which threw me into a spiral of disappointment and frustration and sadness that I’m still trying to climb out of.
So there’s basically no chance that I’ll be fast enough to finish the IRONMAN this year. I’ve made improvements to both my speed and distance since I started this journey and I’m trying to be proud of what I’ve done but it’s tough when I’m coming up short once again.
I made the decision a while ago that if I couldn’t finish it this year, I would try one more year. I have received lovely and encouraging e-mails from people who have tried 3, 4, 8, even 12 times before they finished an IRONMAN and while I have tremendous respect for the discipline that requires, I think I have one more year of this in me and then it will be time to find something to do that I actually enjoy. There’s a Mark Twain quote “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Then quit, no use being a damned fool about it.” I’m on the second try.
When I set this goal for myself I knew that the training would be difficult, but I believed that I would put in the training hours and the improvement would happen and I would finish the event. Except that’s not what happened, I put in the training hours but my speed just has not increased enough. It’s super frustrating. I had some improvements in speed but I also had long plateaus, and even backslides, in between those improvements.
It’s possible that part, if not all, of that is that I’m not working hard enough – basically that because I don’t enjoy these workouts and I’m struggling just to make myself do the workouts in the first place (and not quit once I’ve started) that I’m mistaking misery for difficulty and thus not working as hard as I think I am – we’re working on some techniques to fix this.
It does leave me with a difficult decision about the upcoming IRONMAN. There are two schools of thought when it comes to a race that you think you can’t finish. One school says: you paid for the race, get in there and do what you can and get a feel for the course and some extra practice. The other school says: if you know you can’t finish, don’t start- it’s not cool to take up space in a race where you know you won’t finish and other people are chasing PRs.
The pros of doing the race include getting a chance to do the swim, the bike and part of the run. The pros of not doing the race include not having to taper and recover so that I can just move forward with my training, not having the expense of traveling to the IM and everything that entails.
I didn’t buy race insurance (hindsight is 20/20!) so the bad news is that I can’t get a refund, but the good news is that I can take until the last minute to decide. (If I don’t race it’s nice to know that if my trolls made good on their promise to register to harass me in person they’ll have wasted their money since IRONMAN does not have a “That blogger I stalk isn’t racing” refund option and, since I know that y’all dote on every word I write, you’re welcome for another year of constantly harassing me.)
So that’s the update on the race, here’s the update on blogging. I basically stopped blogging here for a while for several reasons – first, I just got busy coordinating a few events and when I get busy this blog is the first thing that gets dropped. As I realized that I wasn’t going to be fast enough I struggled to keep doing the workouts and not quit and so I just put all of my energy into that. Finally, I just wasn’t enjoying the way that I was blogging – it felt like just another chore in a week of chores. So as we’re rethinking my training program I’m also rethinking the way that I’m going to blog about it this year.
In the meantime I’m still grinding away at the workouts and I’m still looking forward to, at very long last, crossing that finish line and hearing those words “Ragen Chastain, You Are An IRONMAN!” For those who are following my journey, it looks like we have another year together! Massive thanks to everyone who has offered me encouragement and well wishes, you can’t know how much I appreciate it and how much it means.
If you’re looking for some thoroughly cheesy pick-yourself-up-and-dust-yourself-off music, I’m your girl! Here’s what I’m listening to right now (and as always, your suggestions are welcome in the comments)