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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


It has been a few days since we finished up the marathon and I've been a little quiet, reflecting back on the experience. Originally, I had wanted to find out if this was the stuff I was made of. Because I know that I want to try IMWI next year, I felt like I had to do this, to know what it felt like to go this distance by itself, to know what it feels like and to assimilate it into how I wold think it might feel to go this distance AFTER having swam 2.4 and biked 112 miles.
I had a very specific progression in mind for my year this year. First, the marathon, followed by two HIM distances (SORT and Pigman) in relatively quick succession, all completed prior to going to IMWI with the intention of feeling solidly like I have the fortitude to successfully complete that particular journey next year. Sure there are some smaller fun events I have in mind, but those are really my A races and objectives.
I think the reason I have been so introspective the past few days is that I feel like I shortchanged myself. I have spent weeks, months really, trying to work a plan to get me across the finish line in 5.5 hours or so. That's not lightning fast, but a respectable enough time for a first attempt.
My plan started in January, carefully mapped out with tempo runs, long runs, speedwork (that makes me laugh a little to write that.......'s all relative I guess.) and all the things I needed. So many factors contributed to not fully working it - blizzards, cold, family crises, and finally nagging injuries I brought on myself trying to ramp up too quickly towards catching the end of the plan and being ready. Sometimes just plain laziness get in the way. The end result is that I failed my plan, and I don't feel like I gave this race the best I had. I disappointed myself.
One of the things I have found in the past couple years of getting to this point is that triathlon is about competing with yourself. That means training for and with yourself, and competing towards the goals you have set for yourself when you toe the line. I am comfortable, probably most comfortable, doing these training things by myself, alone. Sure I enjoy taking a bike with a friend or going to the Tuesday Tri-Out for SWAT, but really feel like my most productive days are those where it is just me on the road or in the pool working on my own personal goals and having that time in my own head to clear out the stressors from the day. I enjoy spending an hour, or sometimes two or three hitting the road alone.
Does all this take away from my time with my family? Really I don't think so. For me it boils down to planning. If I have somewhere to be to be there for my kids, I need to figure out something to be able to meet my needs and theirs too. Let's be honest- these boys don't need or want me around them 24/7. They need to know I am there for them if they need me, to provide enough groceries/meals to sustain themselves, and then for me to get the hell out of their way and let them live their lives. most days they barely notice that I get home from work, let alone to say much more than hi or to have even a 15 minute conversation with me that I don't initiate. They are on the verge of adulthood- they don't need me breathing down their neck all the time, they just need some guidance from time to time when they start to wander off the path. I think there is room for me to get my "Me Time" in and still be a good mom. Scratch that - a better mom who is happy and healthy and hopefully setting a good example. I can make excuses about how I need to give p that time to offer it to my kids, but that would just be making excuses. Life happens, and you have to arrange your training plans around it so that you can balance them both. Pirate says it alot and it's the truth, "The more you do, the more you get done."
So anyway where as I going with this?
Oh yeah- I've been in a funk a little bit because I don't feel like I gave it my best effort, all that I could have done. Some of it was training, some was injury, but there was a part of me that made a choice not to push myself.
So no commitment yet for sure, but i am thinking about doing it again. If not this year on another course, then the same run in 2008. For me. Smarter, faster, and more satisfying.
In a masochistic kind of way, i kind of liked it. Not so much at the time, but the process of getting there and getting it done.
Life is a process, and this is only the first of many steps. This wasn't just something I checked off my To Do Bucket List as ToDone.


Anonymous said...

Nice reflections :)

You think about a lot of things the way I do. I totally agree about triathlon being competition with yourself, and also enjoy that time on the road.

Same here with the boys...our guys are so close in age to yours. I made a comment to them last week when they were going camping about an hour away with a buddy for 2 nights without us. I said half jokingly...that's a long time, won't you miss me? Ryan, we probably won't see you any less than usual and may even see you more cuz you'll probably end up doing some long bike ride and end up where we are camping.

Good for you for being motivated to do it again, and do it better. It's kinda fun, in a masochistic kind of way (totally get it), to keep working to improve. You're doing awesome, btw!

Erin said...

Take a minute to look at how far you've come, really, and celebrate that. Life sometimes gets in the way of training, but you just ran a MARATHON! That's awesome...and no small feat. So give yourself a pat on the back and then make a plan for the next one :)

Oh, and I hear you on the liking the training in a "masochistic kind of way." It's a good feeling after all is said and done...and if you feel that way, then you're right on track for doing an IM!

S. Baboo said...

I am right there with you. I did my first iron distance race two years ago and had been plagued by injury, specifically a fractured hip, so didn’t get in good training but I did ok. However I knew I could do better and so I registered for another. Of course I have not really gotten the iron distance right yet in my opinion and so I am still at it. Last year I did 3 iron distance races and this year I will get 3 iron distance races again and it is all about my quest to get it right, to perform as well as I think I should be able to perform. It is like a puzzle to me and I want to get it right and once I get it right, well, I’ll probably keep at it until I get it better. It is also all about deciding if it is your time in life to dedicate to training for those kinds of distances and if that is what you decide you have time for then there is no time like to present to jump back on if the motivation is there.

blink140pnt6 said...

Yeeeeeeeaah baby, get back in there and make it yours! You own it, you deserve it.

If I may comment on others comments, of which I would not normaly do, but they both struck a cord with me in respect to your situation.

Erin is right on the money. Give your self a pat on the back, enjoy, it was no small feat, but then learn and move forward. Apply the knowledge gained to reach your goal and then seek more knowledge.

As far as Baboo: One only has to look at the comment that he left to realize that he has still not learned what it takes and unfortunatly (on his current path)he will never reach his full potential. That is sad to me because I know he could do much better. You don't have to make multiple mistakes. What he's saying is I've done a bunch of crappy races and I'm going to do a bunch more crappy races and maybe when the moon and the stars and the this and the that align I'll reach my full potential?

I say this about both above comments because in your post you say you want to get BETTER.

External factors noted, they are big boys. Do this and do it right. Give back to yourself for all the hard years you have put in.

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

i know it helps me hugely to talk to other triathletes. this is because they are all family people who are just as driven as i am, so I get reinforcement that I'm not alone, that I can do it, and it does not make me a bad parent.

suffice it to say, I know that you're not alone, you can do it, and it does not make you a bad parent - but you have to settle that with yourself (like we all do).

life is just one big learning experience. or a bunch of little ones. I think you just had one - use it wisely! you're absolutely right - no point in beating yourself up, or second guessing yourself.

Casey said...

I know we've all heard the quotes that start with, "You'll look back 20 years from now and think...". Are you really going to worry about a few skipped workouts or that you didn't push yourself to your maximum at every chance? If you didn't take time to slack off a bit and if you were perfect at every stretch you'd be an elite athlete hoping to make a living doing the sport.

Hopefully we'll all be able to do this sport for years to come, and down the road I'd like to look back at my collection of shirts, pictures and finisher medals with fondness, not regret. Find a perspective where your successes are defined in a meaningful, reachable way.

At Ironman Coeur d'Alene last year my goals were to 1. finish and 2. not cry. With that in mind, everything else fell into place. I didn't set a time goal, and my training goals were to make as many practices as productive as possible. With toes in the water on race day I wasn't sure what was to come, but I knew what would make a successful day for me.

Best of luck!

Mike said...

Don't let it get you down. You finished a marathon, and there aren't too many people that can say that. My first and only attempt at a marathon was a horrible failure, and to date I still haven't run further than 13.1 miles. But it taught me to respect the distance and I know that my IM training wouldn't be going as well as it is without learning that humbling lesson.

When the marathon got tough, you and Mike didn't quit and I think that speaks volumes about your character. Many people would've thrown in the towel, but you two kept moving forward and crossed the finish line.

Don't feel like you have to rush into the Ironman. There's a lot more to triathlon that the Ironman. I rushed into it, and there are a lot of times I wish I had held off and given myself more time to get more base miles and experience. But if you do decide to sign up for IMWI 09, I think you can make it to the finish line. Just keep moving forward like you did at the Madison Marathon. You'll get there.

Good luck.

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice post! I had to go down to see your marathon report too! Nice job!!!

Best of luck!!

TriSherpa Di aka "Mrs Bigun" said...

Jenny, I loved reading this post.You have done so much so quickly. You and Mike both. I think waiting for 2010 for an IM is a good idea. You haven't even had a full year of TriAthlon yet.
You rock, really you do.
I loved this post.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like learning respect for the distance. I have a similar story about being spanked at a sprint tri. This can be a real motivator to get out there and train! You will pick yourself up and get out there and suceed because of love of the sport and what it does for you. Keep tri-ing!

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