Sometimes the Smart Decision Sucks

Or…

Pulling the plug… for now

This is a hard post to write. I have to admit defeat. It comes at the hands of circumstance. No one thing did it, but they all piled up into the perfect storm. For the second time in a row.

I’ve decided to pull from Ironman Texas. This is the second full Ironman I’ve entered and circumstance has led me to have to pull late in the game. My mind is my worst enemy. “You’re just not capable of pulling off a full Ironman.” “Two in a row because life got in the way? Sure sounds like a great story.” “You’ve got this, so why stop unless you’re just a quitter?” My mind can be a jackass some times.

I’ve decided to cash in and call it quits. The last six months has been a rollercoaster. I’ve been sick with respiratory illnesses twice that have lasted more than a few days. My stomach has rendered me useless multiple times for days at a time. I had a cronic sinus headache related to work for nearly two weeks. The cherry on top was a job search that got accelerated a bit faster than I intended. Ironman training is an uphill battle against what you’re body wants to do in the best of circumstances. This felt more like playing defense against a siege.

Two weeks ago I set a PR at Ironman Galveston. It wasn’t the PR I wanted, but it was progress nonetheless. I felt good. I paced and fueled as if I was doing a full. Everything clicked into place. I had planned to take an easy week with some light swimming, then kick back into gear the next weekend. Or that was the plan.

Saturday morning came and I had a stuffy head with a slight tickle in the back of my throat. Must be allergies plus talking too much on Thursday and Friday I thought. Checked in with the coach and decided to pull the plug on my Saturday ride. Better to take the weekend off from a long ride and get it in early in the week. I had the flexibility so why not take advantage of it? I took it easy but my body didn’t let up. By Sunday talking at more than a whisper took effort. I was popping the next cough drop before the current one finished, just to dull my throat. I spent the next three days in a menthol flavored haze of allergy medicine, decongestants, and expectorants. I was going to kick this and hit the next weekend full force with the Red Poppy century.

Saturday morning came and went. No century. I was still toast. I had weaned myself from most of the medicines and was able to breathe, but it still felt like I had rubber bands triple tied around the upper part of my lungs. I spent 30 minutes in a light spin Saturday morning. My heart rate spiked and my breath got shallow any time I picked up the pace beyond casual-ride-in-the-park pace. The handwriting on the wall was now clearly illuminated. Ironman Texas isn’t going to happen for me.

I feel like I could probably finish. That “probably” is the problem. I can definitely see the scenario where something happens, throws me for a loop, and I’m toast. Like my coach said, you can’t fake a full. Regardless of whether I finished, it’s going to destroy my body. Spending more than a half day propelling myself forward is going to take its toll. Given where my fitness and health is at right now, that toll is going to be bigger than it has to be.

I want my first full Ironman to be a race I’m proud of. It sounds arrogant and assholeish and all manner of wrong, but I don’t want it to be a race that I slog through just to get the medal and check off “full Ironman” from the bucket list. I want a race that when I get through I feel like I had the best race I could have prepared for. With everything that’s not gone according to plan, Ironman Texas isn’t that race for me this year.

I hate throwing in the towel. I’ve stayed in jobs way longer than I should have. I didn’t want to give up on the job I was hired for or the job I wanted to make for myself. I’ve stayed in relationships past their expiration date. “Relationships are hard” and they “require hard work” and all other manner of platitudes. I’ve shown up on the line at races ill-prepared and undertrained and still raced. Not starting meant I had to fess up to not having prepared – regardless of the reasons – to be ready for the starting gun.

My first Ironman isn’t going to be that. I’m going to do it. Hell, my eye keeps wandering to an Ultra Man. But I’ll be ready for those when they come. I’m not there right now.

Time for a reset and then… keep moving forward.

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