Monday, January 9, 2017

Farewell Triathlon, Until We Meet Again

I have decided to stop doing triathlons. Not quit, just stop. I just don’t want to do it anymore. This feeling has been building up since 2014. I felt it coming, like an inevitable process of life I would just have to accept.  I hung on just long enough to meet my sub 14-hour goal at Ironman Louisville 2015.

 It was a few months ago, July of 2016. I was doing another sprint triathlon in Wichita. On this particular morning, after driving through farmland for over two hours at a ridiculously early time in the morning, I was met with a despairing feeling of not wanting to be there. Now, at every other triathlon in 2016, I felt that way, the feeling of not wanting to be there, but I finished all my races, collected my age group awards, and went home. But on this morning, I finally asked myself “then why are you here?” Standing in the swim start line I thought about the $70 I had spent registering for this race, this race I didn’t even want to do, and the gas it took to drive the 100 miles to get here. How much I wish I would have just skipped the race and had a nice date night with Joel instead.  How much triathlon had changed in the six years since I did my first race. How much I was tired of the NOISE. That day I raced, not to my potential, not giving it my best, and finished first in my age group. Once again, collecting my age group award, and taking the long drive home with a lot to think about.

I tried to keep up the immense love I had for the sport, but it just left me, slowly. I no longer had the desire I once had. I tried. I bought all the latest gadgets, another new bike, and Zipp wheels. I tried. I signed up for lots of races, and even registered for Age Group Nationals, which I have qualified for every year since I started triathlon but was never able to go. I ended up not going after spending $175 registering. After that race in July, I decided to stop doing triathlons until the love and desire came back.

So, what brought me to this point? A lot of things. There is no one experience or factor that brought me here, it has been a culmination of many. I could feel my triathlon fire dying down in 2014. So what do I do? Sign up for my third Ironman in 2015, that should do it. That was the Ironman I trained the least for. I rode my bike on hills more than anything and that’s how I finally got my sub 14 at Ironman Louisville. I capped out at a 12 hour training week and still managed to finish in 13:26. In that training cycle, I decided that I wanted to be home for my family in the evenings instead of trying to squeeze in another run or swim, and I did just that. Seeing how much it meant to my family that I was home in the evenings instead of out training was an eye opener. I was happier and they were happier

I had planned on doing a 70.3 in 2016, it would have been my 8th 70.3. With the race entry fee in hand and my Ironman All World Athlete status I started looking for a potential race, but I wasn’t excited. I thought about how much I didn’t want to train for a 70.3, how much I hated swimming, how many more lonely hours I would be on the road training. I was about to pay $300 to enter a race I knew deep down inside I didn’t even want to do. Joel had to go to a service school in Virginia April-May. Instead of registering for another 70.3, I purchased a plane ticket so I would be able to visit him in Virginia while he was at school. It was such an empowering feeling to buy that plane ticket. I broke free from the chains of triathlon I felt were holding me down. The chains labeled “this is what you do” and “you can’t stop now” and “we own you”. That weekend I visited Joel in Virginia ended up being amazing quality time together, and it really rejuvenated us as a couple. Had I done the 70.3 instead, I would have just ended up broken, blistered, sunburned, and disappointed.

Early in 2016, I decided to give finishing my bachelor’s one more honest try after quitting in 2015. So many years I could have finished my bachelor’s and I didn’t because I was taking triathlon too serious. Triathlon is a hobby, school is not. In 2016, I let training take a back seat and made my family and my school work my priority. Between January and December, I became 31 credits closer to my bachelor’s at Kansas State University. Ever since I was younger, I was told I was one of those people “not meant for college”. This has always been something I wanted to prove I could do, and I’m that much closer.

About the NOISE I mentioned earlier. Triathlon is now filled with so much NOISE. Today, you are not serious if you don’t have a coach. You are not serious if you enjoy drinks on the weekend. You are not serious if you don’t have a power meter. You are not serious if you are a crappy swimmer and don’t hire a swim coach. You are not serious if you eat meat. You are not serious if you don’t like Brooks. You are not serious if you eat gluten. I personally have been told I am not serious since I refuse to lose 20 pounds. SO MUCH NOISE.

In this process I learned something about myself that went against what I had always thought to be true. I always thought I needed to be registered for a race to exercise. Not true, I still exercise every morning. In December I ran 102 miles. I’m enjoying weightlifting just because I like to do it. I played 1 on 1 basketball with my oldest daughter yesterday. After weight loss surgery, exercise became so routine I just do it now, without any dread, it’s a part of my day. It has been for the past 7 years. I drop the girls off at school and I go to the gym without hesitation. It has actually been awesome for my mental health to not be doing triathlons. I don’t have to stress over when to swim, what kind of run to do, how much time I need to spend on the trainer. It has made me feel so great, to just exercise the way I feel like it to stay healthy. To have the chance to try new things instead of worrying I’ll injure myself for triathlon.  I have 2 big surgeries coming up between February and April, but after I recover from those, I have a list of sports and activities I plan on trying. I will still be doing running races, but I will not kill myself to try to win. I would like to run another ultra, as well as try mountain bike racing.

In closing, I say farewell to triathlon for now. I’m sure at some point I’ll return. I just don’t want to do it anymore. Without desire it is just a chore and I can’t pretend anymore. If I am not having fun than there is no point in putting myself through all this. Triathlon was not making me happy, it was making me miserable, and its time to leave. I want to run, I want to ride my bikes, I never want to swim. I want more weekend trips with my husband, more trips to the waterpark with my children. I want to exercise for the day and be done with it, not go back out later for mindless laps in a pool. I want to stay up late with my husband on the weekends watching movies, and not turn in early because I have to wake up early to mindlessly ride my bike for 7 hours. I want to take my children to every sport practice and game. I want to take that $70 race entry fee and go to the Japanese Steakhouse on a nice date with my husband. I want to walk across the graduation stage at Kansas State University and show that I was meant to go to college.

Triathlon, you taught me many things, but it’s time to say farewell for now. Until we meet again


  1. I've been there girl. Most people are afraid of the "butterflies" in their stomach before a race. People talk about getting scared before a race. I showed up for a race in 2005 and there was scared thoughts..just nothing. I knew at that point it was time to go.

    It took me 9 years but I finally did another race and now fire burns hotter than ever for me. Good luck in your future endeavors. Triathlons will be here for you when you come back. :)

  2. I have to put it on pause as well. I planned on doing IMFL 2019 but due to injury fell out of training completely. Maybe one day i make myself get better on the bike and runwalk the marathon but not yet.