June 14, 2013

To Half-Iron or not to Half Iron?

Today the registration opens for the Ironman 70.3 California Oceanside.  After I completed my first (and so far, only) half-ironman (HIM) event last September, Superfrog, I had set my sights to do this Ironman-branded event in 2014.  Of course, my best friend, who was at the finish line at Superfrog, keeps reminding me that as soon as I crossed the finish line I said "never again". But soon after, I was hungry for more. I have no interest at all in ever doing a full Ironman, but at the time I really wanted to try another HIM.

Why?  Well, although the event was one of the hardest things I have ever done, the sense of pride I felt was unbeatable. More than that, I loved the training, and how fit I felt during it.  The sense that that I was so dedicated to my training, and making progress toward accomplishing such a big goal, was intoxicating to me. I thought nothing of getting up early on weekends to get my long rides and runs in.  It felt GOOD. I knew that regardless of my finish time, I had done the necessary training and would be proud of how I performed.  And I was proud of how I finished; I had felt strong on the swim and bike, and the run sucked the life out of me. But I finished, and received my medal, and was able to get my finisher's t-shirt, and will forever be a half-ironman, even if that is the only one I ever do. Just like I did my one and only full marathon in 2003---I am a marathoner. No one can ever take that away from me.

However, my motivation dropped soon after Superfrog.  Not that I lost my drive to work out, but life got in the way.  Just 2 weeks after completing the 70.3, my daughter broke her neck. My life got put on hold. I was able to squeeze in a few short swims and short runs, but that was it. That was mostly for stress release. I had NO time to do a long swim, long run, or get on the bike at all. I quickly lost whatever long endurance I had, but it was ok....family always comes first, and my daughter needed me. Two weeks in the hospital, and then home with a halo screwed to her head---that was my priority. 

After a while, I was able to start training again. I got back in the pool on a more regular basis, amped up my runs for my plethora of half marathons I had on the 2013 docket (I did 3 half marathons in January alone!) and started biking again. The bike was my big focus, as I was training for my first century ride in June. I didn't get to go out as often as I would have liked, but I did go out a lot, and conquered hills I NEVER would have considered attempting had I not been signed up for the century ride.  I was so proud of myself and knew if I could get through the century, I would be able to handle the hills in the Ironman Oceanside 70.3 event.

All things came to a head at the end of April. If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know I had to stop running and biking in April. The injury (sciatic nerve) that I've felt during almost every run, and some bike rides, since November 2011, the pain that I've stupidly kept training through, came to a head. I did the La Jolla Half Marathon and was in pain the entire way. During that race, I made the decision not to run again until I was healed; the pain had become so intense that it wasn't fun anymore. And running is supposed to be fun.  I've been seeing a chiropractor and going to physical therapy. I'm in the process of trying to schedule an MRI. We think it's a disc issue, compression at L5/S1, but we want to make sure.  I just got clearance this week to try running again, but not for more than 1-2 miles. I need to work on my form, which isn't great and contributing to the problem. I'm trying. I ran my first mile last night and was in pain. Not awful pain, but pain nonetheless.

Which brings me to today.

I have to consider....do I really want to do another 70.3 anyway? What's wrong with sticking with sprint triathlons, or even another Olympic?  The truth is, I don't LOVE triathlons. What I really enjoy is the training I do for them. When I'm doing the races, I have fun, and am always proud of myself, but I don't look forward to them the way I look forward to my running races.  But...I think I have one more 70.3 in me. I really think I'd like to do at least one more.

Hence, my dilemma.  I can't, in good conscience, register for the Oceanside HIM today. It's $310, which is a lot of money. If I am not healed enough in time to train properly, I can't do the race, will lose an awful lot of money.  So I am holding tight until I'm better. By that time, the race may be sold out, which is the risk I need to take.  I guess I can always do Oceanside in 2015, or even Superfrog again in 2014 if I want. I am also looking at other locations....like the Soma 70.3 in Arizona next October. One thing I've learned from this injury, and having to cancel events I've signed up for like the century and an aquathlon, is that there is always another race to do. The important thing right now is to heal properly. I'm in this for the long haul, and want to be able to run for decades to come.

So today, when triathletes all over the world are hitting the register button for Oceanside, I will stay off the computer.  Time will tell which, if any, 70.3 I sign up for in the future.