I competed in Ironman Arizona yesterday. It was my 7th Ironman finish and first one since this same race last year. It seems every year I swear off these races (usually a dozen times or so during the swim and the bike) but I cannot seem to not sign up for next years race. This year I was, by far, the most undertrained I have ever been. Poor training wasn’t something I set out to do, but after three Ironman races last year (including Kona, which was awesome) burnout definitely reared its head.
I laugh when the race program every year details how much training the average athlete does to prepare for the race- something like 10 months at 25 hours a week. I have done that type of training and it is basically like having another job. Ultra distance triathlon definitely favors the single person with no kids. Doing a race for which you are underprepared makes you check your ego at the door, which is hard. Athletes that let their ego get the best of them are definitely good for business.
It’s difficult to see your times be way less than you know you are capable of, but the reality is that everything we decide to do has a cost. For most super busy people that cost comes at the expense of the people in our lives and at the expense of other fun and rewarding stuff. I have come to a realization this past year that finishing a sub-11 hour Ironman is not worth to me the cost associated with actually doing it. I like to surf too much. I like hanging out with my wife and son too much. Los Angeles is full of people making themselves miserable for the sake of their health and I want to practice what I have been preaching about balance to my patients for years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all happy finishing an Ironman in 13:45 even if I did virtually no training, it is actually a little embarrassing.
But there goes that ego thing again. So I think I decided over my near 14 hours of pain that I can live with 12 hour finishes and be much happier generally not shooting for the sub 11’s. I will always be supportive of my dozens of patients that are actively training that 20 to 30 hours a week, it just isn’t for me anymore. Unless, of course, I get a lottery spot for Kona. Then all bets are off.