The thing about being a part of a running or triathlon community is that it's really easy to get caught up in the atmosphere of "it's time to do a marathon" or "you're ready for an Ironman!" It's easy to start registering for race after race, longer distance after longer distance until you're out $1500+ and insanely busy training for the next 8 months.
For some people, this is awesome. It's what they do and they love it.
Holy crap, the thought of all that just exhausts me.
I've had a few years where I raced a lot and I did love it. I did 3 marathons in one year and they were the three fastest I'd done at the time. Last year I did 6 triathlons, but none longer than an intermediate distance, and I had a really great time. So much fun that I signed up for an Ironman 70.3 (through life circumstances beyond my control I had to cancel that race, so it didn't actually happen).
This year has been extremely low key and while I do sometimes miss the constant thought of "when is my next race and how am I going to improve from last time," I have to admit that the low-key year has been really great overall. I have long term goals that I'm slowly chipping away at. I'm in no hurry to sign up for a last minute race "just because." Or to sign up for something bigger.
I'm hardly racing at all this year. As a matter of fact, I've only done 4 races this year, with only 2 more planned. What a relief! Seriously.
It's tough sometimes not giving into the pull of "SOMETHING BIGGER." It's tough listening to my friends and their crammed race schedules, or the friends who are signing up for another Ironman, or another century ride, or another ultramarathon, and thinking that I SHOULD WANT TO DO THAT TOO!! Is there something wrong with me that I have absolutely NO DESIRE to train like that? They are so dedicated and their training is so regimented and it's a really big freaking deal to them (as it should be). Meanwhile I'm over here like, yeah, my marathon is still over four months way. It's only a little marathon.
Damn, it really just kind of messes with your head. A marathon is a big deal, every single time I do it. And I'm making it sound like it's "just another race." Perspective has clearly been lost in the age of BIGGER AND BETTER.
I didn't get to do my 70.3 and I'm pretty disappointed about that. I really did want to do it, and I would still like to tackle that goal. I've thought about which one I might want to sign up for, but in all honesty the big desire I had last year has dissipated and I'm not yet pulling the trigger on a race that big. And I'm certainly not giving any thought whatsoever to an Ironman 140.6. I know my friends don't believe me when I say that I don't want to do one, but seriously, I DON'T WANT TO DO ONE.
Then I start thinking, but maybe I really secretly do want to do one and they're all RIGHT. Maybe this Ironman thing is really really cool and I should want to be in the "club" because Lord knows just about everyone I train with now is part of it. But no...I'm going to stay on the outside.
I've been thinking a bit about how I want 2017 to shape up. It's going to start out with my Birthday Marathon in January and I'm seriously excited about that race. Then I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE PLANNED. So far. Nothing.
There is not one thing...YET...that has interested me enough to commit to it (although...and I'll get to that in a bit...my eyes are on a super special prize I might compete for later in the year). But it's been weird to feel like I "should" want to cram my race schedule with bigger races and yet have little desire to do so. It's making me feel like something is wrong with me. And then I started thinking about how this attitude is just so pervasive in society in general, about so many different things.
Where is the heck did contentment go? Why isn't small and simple okay anymore? Or rather, why are we telling ourselves that simple is not okay?
IT'S FREAKING OKAY! At least for me, it is. For those who relish in the big races, go after it. I just am not ready for that.
So, if I were to go after something bigger, it would be Boston. It's funny because for so long I didn't really give much thought to qualifying for Boston but it's been in the back of my mind for a couple of years now. Mind you, I'm not nearly fast enough. I have some work to do, and I have to be careful about the race or races that I choose. My qualification window for my next age group opens in a year, and I keep leaning towards going after it as soon as I can. I have a couple races picked out that I'm pretty excited about, but I've got plenty of time to commit. So, with this goal looming, it's hard to focus on many other goals. I'm not really one who can think of achieving a whole lot of greatness in a short amount of time (that's typically when I get injured, and there's no more time for that crap). So the 70.3 might be on the backburner for a year.
It leaves room for sprint triathlons, however. It might be fun to do a few of those during the spring and summer before the crazy BQ training begins. It all keeps circling back to small and simple, and this makes me happy. I don't feel stressed. I need to shut the voice up inside my head that keeps trying to tell me I should want something more.
Instead I'll cheer on those of you who do want that.