Respecting the Distance

Respecting the Distance

Yesterday, I had an epiphany while riding my bike out to Montauk.

I do not enjoy biking enough to ride 56 miles. (After I’ve swam 1.2 and before running 13.1.)

I originally signed up for this Half-Ironman because I wanted a new challenge. I had run four marathons, and I had beat my sub-4 goal that I’d been trying for. I’d done some triathlons, and finally really enjoyed one. Its distance was closer to Olympic than a typical sprint, so I didn’t think I’d feel that challenged training for an Olympic.

I was freaking terrified, and I did a lot of waffling back and forth. Finally, I said I’d committed and started training.

I did the Franklin Lakes Tri and then I did the NYC Tri.

I traveled to the Hamptons and Savannah in July, and the Hamptons again this weekend. Each weekend, I should have done at least a 2-hour workout, but I only did that the first weekend in the Hamptons. In Savannah, I just straight up made every excuse in the world, and only went on an hour-long bike ride with Ashley and did maybe 20 minutes of open water swimming in the bay.

After my bike freakout, I decided my goal was to enjoy the NYC Tri, focus on that, and make any decisions about the HIM then.

I have to give a big shoutout to both my coach and Victoria for putting up with my triathlon crazies. Cause there were a lot of them. I doubted whether I could finish. I doubted whether I could finish without getting swept.

Finally, after one last great email from Victoria last week, I realized I really could do it. I threw myself back into my workouts (which was easy, since I had a slightly easier week after doing NYC.)

I headed out to the Hamptons Thursday night, and brought my bike. Instead, my friend Heather and I went on a 3-mile run Friday and one on Saturday.  Should I have been running more? (Or biking more? Or swimming more?) Yes. Did I care? Honestly, no, not really.

Around 2pm yesterday, I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer and needed to get on the bike. I had 2.5 hours on my plan, and the plan was to go out to Montauk and back. I took off, and I started getting into my head, as I tend to do on the bike. (Uh, and life.)

Just why was I doing this? I didn’t want to ride 2.5 hours yesterday afternoon because I’d rather be at the beach with my friends, yes, but I didn’t want to ride 2.5 hours or 3 hours or more next weekend, and more the weekend after that.

Once I finally realized I could do it, it actually freed up the space for me to realize I didn’t really want to do it. Not right now, or maybe not ever. (Unclear.)

I enjoyed learning more about biking and swimming leading up to the NYC Tri, but I don’t feel comfortable enough (or that I could become comfortable enough) riding 56 miles on the bike in the next 6 weeks.

I absolutely see more triathlons in my future (in fact, I’m thinking of looking at some shorter ones this year before the season’s up), but I think I need to really learn more and get more comfortable at shorter distances IF I want to do a longer distance.

I do believe I could have finished it, but it’s just not my priority right now.

Immediately I started thinking, “what’s my next goal?” When I told Heather this, she asked if I always had to have some sort of athletic goal.

Yup. I feel a lot more grounded and centered when I have some goal I’m reaching towards…

Unless it’s just not the goal for me right now.

I don’t know if I have another goal right now, or if I want one or need one.

Work, my friends and dating are my priorities right now. The idea of training for a long race now is as mentally exhausting as it is physically exhausting. I could certainly fit in the training if I want to, but I just don’t want to right now.

So, I emailed the lovely Ironman PR people this morning, thanked them for everything, and told them I’d be withdrawing, and they were very kind about it.

What I want to know from you: what else do you want to know about what I learned about triathlon training along the way? I also plan on doing a gear roundup of my favorite products soon, so let me know if you have any gear questions, too!

28 comments on “Respecting the Distance

  1. Sana

    Good for you 🙂 I did a sprint duathlon that I was not trained for and it was pretty brutal. I was walking up hills pulling my bike along…

  2. Farah

    Good for you for realizing what you want/do not want to do! Far too often we compare ourselves to what others are doing/accomplishing and feel like we should have/need to have a lofty fitness or athletic goal – when in reality I don’t think there’s anything wrong or missing in enjoying shorter distances or simply the activity itself (vs racing). As someone who dislikes the bike portion of the tri (and I obviously get passed by everyone and their grandmother), I know how you feel. Love the swim and the run (swim is my favorite part) but the bike – yeah I’d rather skip that….
    I haven’t signed up for a tri this year simply because I’ve been so busy with finishing grad school/RD exam/looking for a job (still looking) that I haven’t been biking much and I realize I could have made the time – but it just wasn’t a priority. Instead I’ve enjoyed swimming, HIIT workouts and getting back into strength training – and that’s been A-OK 🙂
    You did an awesome job at Franklin Lakes & the NYC Tri – great accomplishments right there.
    My question is – for tri training, is it worth it to get a swim and bike coach and how much should you expect to invest in coaching fees?

    Thanks! And good luck on your next tri – whatever distance – I’m sure you’ll rock it!

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      My coaching fees were covered, so let me check on that for you! I don’t hate biking, I just don’t love it enough to ride 56 miles in a few weeks confidently. But yes, def prefer run + swim 🙂

  3. Patty @ Reach Your Peak

    I think you made the right decision. If you aren’t into some 100% then why dedicate so much time and effort to it? That’s how I Felt about marathon training this year. I knew I could do one and kind of wanted to, but 90% of me didn’t want to go through all the training this summer, so I decided against it. Nothing wrong with changing your mind!
    I do want to try a sprint tri…maybe next year. Idk I’m a horrible swimmer and don’t even own a bike so I have no clue where to start. How many weeks is a training plan? Any tips for TOTAL newbies?

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      I so did a “gateway drug” tri – the swim was in a pool and the bike was like 10? 13? miles

      For my first, I loosely followed this Hal Higdon program:

      Basically, if you’ve done marathons/halfs, you have the fitness to do a sprint, I think.

      We also have some beginner swim tips up at work:

      And Katy Widrick wrote a guest post on my blog YEARS ago re:first tris:

  4. Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?!

    Wow, big decision. I’m training for my first half Ironman and am definitely revving up for longer and longer rides, it’s just fitting it in with 3 kids and a job that is the challenge! I’m hoping to do another in 2015 too! Good luck with your next goals!

  5. Beth

    I’m currently going through this same thought process around the Dopey Challenge in January. After three months of being sick, I’m not sure I’m ready to jump right into training for that. It’s tough though because I’ve spent serious $$ on the registration.

  6. Amanda

    Wow that must have been a tough one. At least you figured it out. I’m having a hard time getting motivated to train for my 70.3 as well. Finding the time is impossible (yet as I sit here on my computer) ha! Anyways good for you for figuring it out. Best of luck.

  7. Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat

    Good for you! I can understand a lot of your feelings right now. I am running Chicago and NYCM this year and I keep wondering – am I doing this for ME or am I feeling like I HAVE to – the answer is still unclear. I am hating long runs, more than I can say I ever have in the past (I mean they suck in general but seriously my motivation for them is non existent!). I know I will be so happy to run the marathons but my heart is not 100% in it right now.

  8. jillian

    good for you for realizing its NOT for you now! I’ve struggled with this with long distance running, and stopped forcing it on myself. now i do pilates, and i love it. no more pressure for spending hours doing something i’m just not into right now. i bet you feel relieved! happy for you!

  9. Nicole

    I love this so much. And I completely agree/support you. How you spend your time (your life) is a choice. Sometimes we can be our own biggest bullies. Very happy for you for figuring out what will actually make you happy and doing it (or not doing it).

  10. Shawna

    kudos for doing what you WANT to be doing and not sticking with someone because you feel like you should, or you have to, or just because it’s a goal to hit. i think about this sometimes in regards to my running; i’m signed up to run another marathon in October, and i haven’t really been training much this summer because, well, i don’t want to run more than 13 miles right now, and i want to spend weekends with my friends, and my legs are tired, and i have other priorities. so i’m still undecided on it, but i appreciate reading this post and hear another’s perspective.

  11. Liz

    So you got free coaching and a free entry and you are bailing? How sad that you took another potential athlete’s spot. I’m all for blogging and getting comped, it happens all the time, but I don’t like when people say yes just to say yes when they pretty much know they aren’t going to do it. It gives all of us a bad name.

    1. Farah

      @Liz: @ Liz Actually I don’t think it gives anyone a bad name (and who is “all of us??” Please do not speak for everyone in your statement). So what if her entry fees and coaching were comped? She’s not “bailing” but making a smart decision based on her knowledge of her own ability and training. As she said in her post the PR folks were very gracious about it and I’m sure they far prefer that people withdraw if they feel unprepared than risk injury during the race. It’s a smart decision that all athletes make. Not bailing at all. I rarely get up in arms on blog comments but I’ve had it with judgmental attitudes against bloggers. And at the end of the day – it’s HER decision – she has every right to make a decision without having to justify it to anyone else.
      Theodora- again- good for you, and hope you don’t mind me butting in here.

      1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

        Thank you, Farah. I believe Liz is referring to her own blog that she’s not linking to. And this was a media bib obtained after the lottery closed, so it definitely didn’t preclude someone who wanted to pay for a bib from getting one.

  12. Laura

    Good for you! Dating > biking insane amounts. I’m so jealous that you have a million awesome classes you can take in NYC and I’m sure they are more fun than training:)

  13. joelle @ on a pink typewriter

    I have a lot of respect for you after reading this. You should always listen to your body and heart, and if that means not doing a race you signed up for – well okay, that’s life. It is just a race (not to say races aren’t extremely important and valuable experiences to many people as well as significant milestone – they are, myself included – but the world doesn’t fold because one person decided to not go through with a race they’re signed up for). And honestly, kudos to you for writing this, and telling the internet that you changed your mind. A lot of people would have just never mentioned it or ignored questions from readers, or at least not explain why they dropped out, particularly because of what I’m sure is a lot of judgement you may end up facing… but whatever! It’s YOUR life and you should be happy with every step on your journey.

  14. Meghan

    Thank you for posting this, my dear. I have been debating whether or not I wanted to another marathon this fall. I had been training and my heart just isnt it. I know I can, but I just dont wanna! And I’m gonna see how things go without having a hardcore goal, too. I’m thinking it’s just what I need right now. But if you want my bib for Marine Corps, just lemme know. 😉

  15. Kara

    Good for you for making a decision that makes you happy!! I know you could have done the race, obviously! But if you’re not having fun, there’s no point. I’m with you on the biking thing, too. I realized I don’t love it so much either. It stressed me out and I never really looked forward to riding for hours, especially in the summer. Looking forward to seeing what you do next!! xoxox


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