I was a guest on Plus This! last night and I talked, (among other thing including the James Corden Mess and Weight Stigma Awareness Week,) about where I’m going with this IRONMAN journey. You can watch the show here! In the meantime, here are more details:
My neck is definitely getting better (I’m no longer waking up in pain every couple of hours at night, for example) but I’m still having both pain and pins and needles issues which isn’t great. I think that I’ll be able to start training again in a week , my PT is…less sure.
Based on the times I was turning in for my bike and run during my training before newest this bump in the road, it would have taken a REALLY good day, the kind of good day that would be a little miracle, for me to finish IRONMAN Arizona under the time cut-offs. Losing what will likely be almost a month of training to this neck injury means even a miracle probably wouldn’t get the job done.
Even if I had my best day in all three sports (not likely, since my times in actual triathlons have consistently been slower than my training times,) and also took some pretty extreme measures (at least, for me) including not changing clothes during transition (made more difficult because I can’t seem to get a tri kit in my size,) peeing while riding the bike (no, really – this is a thing that people actually do) and not taking my running tights off to pee so as to avoid wasting time in the port-a-potties (again, a thing that people really do,) not having any surprises in terms of weather, equipment etc., and having all of the environmental factors to in my favor (ie – either no wind or, even better, magical wind that was somehow always at my back) at this point it would still take not a little miracle, but a big ass miracle for me to finish IMAZ under the cutoff times and, as my triathlon journey has largely been…how do I say this…an unmitigated disaster to this point, it’s not looking good for a miracle.
So then the question becomes what to do. It’s not an unfamiliar question, since I’ve wrestled with it for four years running now (insert sigh here). As always, I want to be clear that this is just my journey and that other people who face the same decision (and there are many) can make different choices and there choices are also entirely valid. Only the person actually doing this is in a position to make the right choice for themselves.
The first option is just to go do the race and, at some point, get pulled off the course for missing a time cut-off.
My biggest concern with that is going slower than race pace on a fairly crowded looped course. In my other races I’ve always raced within the time limits (or lack thereof) and so people feeling like I was in the way, or too slow, or whatever was their problem, not mine. In this race there are specific time cut-offs and I don’t like the idea of being in someone else’s way or holding them up because I’m not riding or running at race pace. Choosing this option also means paying for travel/hotel/food and then putting myself through a ton of suffering before ultimately failing and getting hauled off the course for missing the cut-off. No medal, No Mike Reilly calling my name, just a ride back to pick up my stuff.
I could postpone and train for another year, but I’m already on year 5 of my 2-year plan and I have other things that I want to do in my life (like finding a sport that is done indoors with air conditioning in comfortable clothing that comes in my size.)
I could just quit. I’ve given it more than the old college try at this point and I don’t think there’s any shame in quitting. But, the thing is, I was planning to get a tattoo on my right inner forearm to commemorate finishing this, and when I look at my forearm it’s empty, which reminds me that I’ve put myself through all this training, I’ve pushed myself WAY out of every conceivable comfort zone, I would like to cross the finish line.
As I said on the show last night, this is not the IRONMAN organization’s fault. They have been incredibly kind to, and supportive of, me. And they make their cut-offs clear, so I knew what I was up against. I honestly just thought I would be faster by now. This is also not Coach Steve’s fault. He, too, has been incredibly kind and supportive of my roller coaster journey.
Having weighed the pros and cons, I decided to do something I’ve considered before as an option… Drumroll…
I’m going to stage my own race.
The First and Last Annual Long Beach Single-Athlete Iron-Distance Triathlon
I’m going to set up an extremely looped course with one giant aid station that my partner (the long-suffering Julianne) has agreed to person for the duration of the event. It will have my nutrition and hydration stuff, but will also have actual tasty drinks and snacks and friends, family, blog readers etc can come and hang out. We’re even looking into the possibility of live-streaming it so that people can be part of it from wherever they are.
As frustrated as I’m feeling about my neck issues, and my utter failure to complete an IRONMAN triathlon over the last five years, right now, I’m feeling equally excited to be taking control of this journey. There’s still plenty of work between now and my (now literally personal) finish line, but at least I’m feeling good about it.