Because I do not want to.
I know. It’s three weeks away and I’ve been training for nearly five months. I am fitter than I’ve ever been in my life and I’ve already invested countless hours and many, many dollars into this endeavor. Everyone has pre-race anxiety. Everyone experiences the crushing pressure of an important endurance goal.
This is not that.
When I cycle outdoors, I feel profoundly unsafe. I have ridden outside four times in five months. Without question, I would have come much further if I had pushed myself from the beginning and followed through on my goal to ride outside weekly. I would have stronger handling skills and banked confidence to draw on. It was just too scary. On Sunday, I rode about 40 miles with 2,000 ft of climbing. I could barely leave the parking lot, I was so afraid. As I rode, I calmed down but I didn’t enjoy it for a single moment. I just wanted it to end without incident. By all accounts, it went very well (with the exception of a flat in the last 10 miles.) I powered up the hills and held a pace that earned praise from my superstrong friend Jess but all I could think in the last five miles was “I don’t want to do this race. I don’t want to do this race.” I came home, mowed through 10 miles on the trainer and attended Dailey Method. 4 hours and 15 minutes of exercise and barely any soreness this morning when I woke up. Did I feel strong? Absolutely. Did I feel any more confident or enthusiastic about the race? Not an iota.
Today, I did an “easy” 35 minute run. Felt good. Legs were tired but I wasn’t daunted by the workout and completed it slightly faster than I should have. Taught some lessons, had a snack, and headed to the pool for a race distance swim.
Got in and barely made it 700 meters before I was so nauseated that I had to get out of the pool. This has been happening for 5 months and I don’t know what it is or how to fix it. I’m pretty sure it has to do with my breathing but I just don’t care anymore. I don’t care that you could “float a log down the Augusta swim course and it will arrive at the Swim In in 45 minutes.” I don’t care that I could breast stroke and eventually make my way down there. It sounds like a miserable, terrifying experience that would only be the brief precursor to a much longer miserable, terrifying experience. And then if I were fortunate enough to make it to Bike In without some humiliating or painful debacle, I would have to run a half marathon. A completely appealing distance in and of itself. So appealing that I’m already researching which half marathon I would run in the coming weeks.
I don’t want to do this. No part of me wants to do it. I’ve read and reread recaps of wonderful women who have done this race. The same ones that brought tears to my eyes and inspired me to register in the first place. I feel nothing positive. I find myself looking desperately for clues or insights that might sway me in one direction or another. Every conversation I’ve had with friends has either been “you’re absolutely fine, you’ll be fine, just keep going” (from the athletes) or “it’s totally okay to quit” (from friends and family). None of them have satisfied me. Now it’s nearly 1 am and I’m wide awake, researching my flight change policy and imagining chucking my bike down a well.
This is the first blog post I’ve written in ages that feels honest. This afternoon, I was discussing all of this with a very strong friend. She falls into the athlete camp that is encouraging and believes I can complete the race and will be better for it. I don’t disagree that September 28th might be a hard day with a kaleidoscope of emotions including regret. If I saw it through, maybe I would have a great day. Maybe I would have a horrible day but it would all feel worth it when I crossed the finish line. I’m sure that moment would be amazing but I just don’t feel any pull towards it. I have no desire. I don’t want it enough to earn it. We discussed regret and the value of learning about myself by seeing this challenge through to completion. Clearly what I’ve learned is that I have a much stronger work ethic than I ever knew and that I also have human limitations and human preferences. Those limitations don’t make me weak or lazy, as I sought to prove to myself when I first started working out years ago. I don’t need to prove anything to myself anymore.
On one hand, I wish I had decided this sooner. It would have saved my poor husband and friends a LOT of whiny texts. It would have saved me a lot of tears and anxiety. It would have eliminated the “so close” element that might haunt me down the line. On the other hand, I got that much stronger and laid a fantastic foundation for future challenges. It’s clear what kinds of activities I love to do. I’m all for 2 workouts a day and very hard work when it’s the kind that’s right for me. And if I feel like I have unfinished business, I will climb down that well, retrieve my bike, sign up for master’s swim and try again. I now know exactly what I would need to successfully train for a 70.3.
But I do NOT see that happening. 😀
Thank you for your support and love.