One consequence of being frugal is I serve as my own psychotherapist. In today’s session I explore why I cross-train year round, do fairly well in triathlons, yet choose not to race.
Today was Ironperson Canada in Penticton, Canada. Last year I attended the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run triathlon to ride the bike course, vacation with the family, and cheer on a few friends from Olympia. The day after the race they wanted me to sign up for this year’s version.
I enjoyed race day a lot, but chose not to register because training for an Ironperson would require me to compromise my commitment to balancing family, work, and fitness.
The last few years I’ve been less and less interested in competing in triathlons at all which explains why my “season” this year begins September 6th at 9:30a.m. and ends September 6th around noon.
Here are three possible theories on why I’ve become less interested in racing.
1) The “fear of success” theory. I’m a solid age-group competitor, but not a great one. Most races I finish somewhere around the top 20%. Maybe my casual commitment to the sport is not really about balance. Maybe I haven’t committed to fulfilling all of my potential because I’m afraid of breaking through into the top 10%. Psychologically, maybe being above-average is more familiar, comfortable, and safe. If I went “all in” I know I could improve a little bit, or more accurately at my age, I know I could slow down more slowly than my peers. That would lead to higher finishes, but what if I’m wrong? What if what you see is what you get?
2) The “I’m too frugal” theory. I tell myself I don’t want to spend the necessary money on a time trial bike with disc wheels and I don’t want to pay the steep race entries fees and associated travel costs. Of course 1 and 2 could be related because I can afford the upgrades, race entries, and related travel costs. Are 1 and 2 distinct theories or should I renumber them 1A and 1B?
3) The “best case scenario doesn’t mean that much to me” theory. This is the one I think is most relevant. What is the best case scenario? I move up in the standings and occasionally win my age group when a few more talented burners are no shows. Or I qualify for Ironperson Hawaii in Kona at age 50. To each of those possible accomplishments I say, so what? None of them would change my life in any meaningful way.
So there you have it. That’s why you probably won’t see me at your next triathlon. Rest assured though, even though I enjoy training more than competing, it’s not like the competitive fire has been completely extinguished.
Take last Thursday night’s club ride for example.
About 25 of us were crawling through a few rollers towards the base of a two mile climb. I grew impatient and went to the front thinking that everyone would dial it up. Instead, I pulled away further and further until I was completely clear. I rode hard for a few miles to the base of the climb and put about 400 meters into everyone. At the first and second false top I thought I was going to make it over the third and final one. Visions of the King of the Mountain jersey were dangling in my head, but alas, three guys blew by me 100 meters from the top. That was equal parts frustrating and exhilarating (Note: I caught them on the descent).
The joy is in the journey. Or put differently for me, the joy is in the training.