Ok, I recently made it official I won't be doing Ironman Arizona. To which I got lots of comments about dodging a strong field, being a wuss, being lazy, and so on. So, I'm compelled to lay it all out here and move on. So, here's the deal...be patient it's not all bitching and excuses.
Where to start? There's a lot I want to say but don't want to be rambling on for days.
First, Kristen and I are done. I'm single, that's that, end of story. It was not quite amicable, primarily on my end. But, you can't force that stuff, so, you accept it and move on. We are and will be friends. It's a bit awkward now, as it always is early, but you just gotta let it slide. It takes a while to release three years.
Next, I've been all over the place this year, in every sense of the term. I've literally circled the world this year traveling to races and training camps. I was racing in Mexico in early March, was off to Japan three weeks later for my first World Cup, heading to Europe to train with the Danish National team a few weeks after that for 2 months, back to the US for 4 weeks before learning I was headed back to Europe to help Rasmus Henning in his pre Kona preparation. Then back to the US, but living on the east coast for 2.5 weeks and racing a 70.3 and Olympic race, then back to CO, then Austin 70.3, and then the plan was AZ in late November. It was a pretty crazy year.
Now consider that year and the fact that I was never quite 100%, physically, mentally, financially and it's been nuts. Certainly NOT the best way to be competing to the best of my ability. So, why was I so...disorganized?
It all began about 5 years ago. I've mentioned on this blog before of my past bad luck, here is the laundry list:
- 2005- I was anemic over the winter after trying to do IM FL, winter triathlon, nordic skiing, too much extreme altitude and so on. You just can't race IM, XTERRA, and ITU/Olympic distance all at the same time. This is downside of loving your sport and being pretty good at most disciplines, you get tempted. Also, I was hit by a car while riding and sprained my knee badly at XTERRA Crested Butte.
- 2006- Slipped on black ice in my parking lot and compression fractured my hip 2 weeks prior to IM AZ this contributed to a strained calf during Escape from Alcatraz which lingered the entire season and was re-strained at XTERRA Worlds
- 2007- Started the year with nine significant insect stings within 3 weeks and eventually ended up with West Nile Virus (don't know if the two were connected). WNV is not unlike Chronic Fatigue or Mono in its effects to your energy and immune system. Basically it lays you out for 3-6 months. In September when I was finally feeling ok I had a stupid backward fall onto a curb in a parking lot taking my mtb off a car while avoiding another car in the next parking space, causing another compression fractured hip.
- 2008- Started the year feeling great but kept having problems with my left foot/ankle which then began to cause cramping and strain of my calf and hamstring. Eventually it got to the point I could barely run, but as a stubborn athlete I kept trying to gut it out. In September I found out I had a bone spur pinching a nerve and blood vessel as well as impinging the joint (actually I almost cut the nerve in half with the spur). Luckily it was operable and I had it removed. All was and is good
- 2009- After surgery I was not able to really train till February. I just plain rushed things after that. This coupled with poor decisions on bike fit and being way to far forward lead to patellar/quad tendonitis which I was still feeling starting 2010. Just stupid over eagerness after being held back for four years prior.
So there it is. I don't like laying that out there. It all feels like excuses, or stupidity. Maybe it can just be chalked up to "shit happens". I don't know. I just want it behind me.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel pressure to perform this year (2010). I began the year focused on ITU racing and trying to get to the Olympics. I think every athlete has this motivation at one point or another in some way. Most thought this was laughable since my swim has such a poor history and ITU is so very swim focused. However, I had a really good off season swimming. I was putting up good numbers in the pool. I had some TT's that were just about where things needed to be. So, I was eager and excited. To be honest, if I'm 100% without and fractures, blood issues, and so on I'm not worried about my run. I know I have 30 min 10k's in me when the work gets done, it's just getting the work done. Starting 2010 the work was getting done.
However, it was not long before I realized although I was a much better swimmer I was not an ITU swimmer. I could swim a high tempo but didn't have the get out speed over the first 400m. I would get gapped and just stay that same distance behind. I was frustrated when I went to the Team Specialized camp in April after a swim related DNF at Ishigaki World Cup. There I met Rasmus who invited me to Denmark to learn how it's done. I decided, "hell, this opportunity won't come again" so I went for it.
I was supposed to do Holten WC and a CC as well while in Europe so it seemed perfect. However, while I was in Denmark it became apparent that due to ITU points, etc. etc. I would not be able to get into a Olympic qualifying position even if my swim was perfect. Olympic bids begin nearly 6 years out these days and with 2 years to go it was not going to happen. So, now what?
Well, 70.3 obviously, right? There are tons of races, all with some ok prize money, how hard could it be? Actually I'm not that naive. I knew what I was getting into and coming back from Europe I was very fit and going well. However, having my TT bike broken on the trip back from Europe, having to borrow a size too small, getting dq'd for loosing my # on the bike at Boulder 70.3 and trying to race at altitude less than a week after coming back to the US was not the best plan.
Ok, so lesson learned. Get re-aclimated, pick a good race schedule and aim toward 70.3 Worlds. And all was going well, till I had another rare opportunity. Rasmus really wanted me to come train in the Canary Island during his pre Kona camp. I said no, he insisted, Specialized agreed, and I was on a plane. Over 2010 I've got to know Rasmus and the Dane's well. I love Farum, where they train. I like the guys, and I count them all as true friends. Rasmus wanted my help and I wanted to see him win Kona in the same dominating fashion he had won Challenge Roth. So, bam, I was on a plane straight from the San Francisco Alcatraz Tri without even stopping by Boulder on my way out of the country, and off to an experience of a life time. I just wish some of my recent misfortune had not rubbed of on Rasmus' Kona performance. I tell you, he was ready to kill it in Kona.
Then it was back to the US, again. This time I hit a couple of sea level races and had good efforts, but again not without a BS drafting penalty at Syracuse 70.3, and forgetting my speed suit for Westchester (something that probably didn't matter much).
Syracuse sealed my fate for 70.3 Worlds, I would not qualify for the 2010 edition. If I were to be totally honest that was the beginning of the shut down for the season and the end for Kristen and I, thus I was already mentally shutting down. However, after some reassessment and consideration of the new WTC Kona qualification I chose to finish with IM AZ. On the way to that goal I would also do 70.3 Austin.
If you read my LAVA magazine reports you know how Austin went. I was having a great race which was ended with a puncture which wouldn't patch. So, on to AZ? I went through the motions for a few weeks. Training was actually going really well. My personal life sucked (ha, does anyone have one of those anymore with all the social media). But, I literally have under $1000 to my name at the moment. Too much fruitless travel. It's November, I need (needed) to make a plan for 2011. And, I felt like I was just trying to keep things from unraveling before IM AZ.
In the end I don't want to go to (another) race that way. In the midst off all the travel, emotion, and changes in focus and direction, I've discovered that, "hey, I'm pretty decent at this sport. I really love it. I have complete freedom at the moment and the ability to dedicate my life to excelling at this". What I haven't had in a long time is focus. For physical, mental or whatever reason I've had distractions and interruptions. In 2011 I want to eliminate all that. Ironman Arizona will not help me to do this. In fact it will only postpone it's application.
So, I'm not doing IM AZ. I may not do an IM next year either, at least not prior to 70.3 Worlds. I want that to be my focus, 70.3 Worlds. I want to focus on that one goal and do everything I can to make that happen.
Right now on November 1. I am beginning the journey toward that goal. I won't be racing ITU. I won't be racing IM. I will do some Olympic non-drafting and XTERRA as is beneficial to 70.3 and my earning potential. But I won't make poor choices on those fronts. And, (knock on wood) I won't have any physical issues.
And that's that. I'm not dodging a strong field. I'm not being lazy. I'm making a choice to be the best athlete I can in 2011, not the 70% version of the past 5+ years. I know most of my competitors and acquaintances have little to no faith in me. I know in the small Boulder elite triathlon circle I'm somewhat of a laughing stock. But, hey, not many know the whole story, and now, there it is up there, so enjoy.
In the end I am reminded of something that former XTERRA World Champ Anke Erlank told me several years ago: "Everybody's your brother 'till you have nothing to offer". I know its kind of like "everyone's your brother till the rent comes due". But either way it is something that has resonated with me. It all comes down to the fact that I am the only one who really knows me. I know how I feel at 300 or 350 watts, or 6 min or 5 min pace, or 1:10 or 1:20 pace. I know what I can do and that's all I really want at this point; to prove to myself (and those who have, and still do, support me) what I am truly capable of. Hopefully this mission will help to motivate a few people and get a few asses off the couch and toes on the line.
On to 2011...