Friday, July 22, 2016

Freedom from Pressure

I'm not sure when, or exactly how it happened, but I have come to terms with it, my tri fire has fizzled. The past six years of my life could be a monotonous story of swim, bike, run, race, repeat. Missed family vacations, missed date nights, miss opportunities, all for the sake of triathlon.

I could feel it building early in this year's tri season. Every race morning I woke up not wanting to go. I raced on Sunday, I groaned when my alarm went off at 2:30 a.m. What used to be mornings filled with excitement and anticipation, were now mornings filled with dread and the feeling of "lets get this over with." On the drive to Wichita for the early morning sprint triathlon, I looked over at Joel, who woke up at that horrendous hour and offered to drive us. He didn't know I had been feeling this way, I have been in denial so I have not told anyone. He was doing his best to support me in my race, waking up with me, doing the long boring drive in the country. I felt a sadness, as this was his last weekend home before going to the California desert for 30 days for Army training, and he had to wake up at a time we used to go to bed in our dating days, to take me to a race I didn't even want to do. My sadness was because I could have just realized these feelings, and not do the race, and we could have had a wonderful date night the night before, making more memories together.

Over the past few months I am getting progressively slower. I'm not sure if its because of my extra 10 pounds, the fact that I sit at a desk doing schoolwork anywhere from 4-9 hours every day (but hey, I'll be able to graduate from Kansas State University next year), or the stress of my husbands new job since because of it I have to do a little more at home and don't have as much time to train. I consider those factors, but I honestly feel it is this: the pressure is getting to me. When you are fast, there is pressure to stay fast, and sometimes that pressure becomes overwhelming. When you have an average time, or you don't win, you are asked "what happened?" Because when you are fast, just finishing isn't enough.

I've taken the time this week to think about what I want for the time being. I came to the conclusion I hate swimming, I'm ready to run long distance again, and I want to try different cycling disciplines. This week I decided to just run, no pressure on myself, no time goal, just run for the sake of running, and I have loved it.

I'm not quitting triathlon, I think there is still a fire within that could be sparked and ignited again, I'm simply taking a sabbatical from it, however long that may be. During this sabbatical I'll be doing long distance running races, cyclocross, gravel races, time trials, and mountain bike races. All the things I have wanted to do over the years, but didn't in pursuit of triathlon. Those are part of my missed opportunities. I'm a natural runner and I love cycling, I want to see what else the cycling world has to offer besides triathlon. I still want to race, just not triathlon.

I want to run and ride on my own terms, not to be fast, not to meet any time goals, but simply for the enjoyment of the run and the ride. I need to enjoy this again, not dread it.

I'll be undergoing surgery in a few week to get the extra skin off my abdomen removed, after that I start the long healing process. I'll have my cyclocross bike by then, and when cleared to ride I'll be able to explore the miles of gravel and dirt roads around here at a gentle pace, it will be fall in the Midwest at that time. Cool temperatures and changing leaves will be greeting me in that new chapter, and I'll actually be moving slow enough to take it all in and enjoy it, with no pressure. I'm allowing myself freedom from pressure.

Tomorrow morning I am doing a 5 mile running race on my Army post. Its actually on one of my favorite running routes. Its a very small field, maybe 30 people at the most, After writing this and getting all out, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race, I don't feel pressure. I just get to go run a route I love without having to worry about vehicle traffic.

Thanks for reading!

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