Let's cut to the chase. Inquiring minds want to know: Will you do it again?
The short answer: no.
The longer answer: if I had a $5,000 gift card to Whole Foods; a weekly cleaning lady; a weekly allowance for massage and chiropractic work; two weeks where I could just train and sleep and eat like the pros do (and do it in a cool place like Hawaii or New Zealand, even better); and somebody who hung out all my workout gear so it wouldn't shrink in the dryer, I might entertain the idea.
Seriously, though, I'm about a month out from Ironman Coeur d'Alene: The giddiness from the finish line has died down, and I've had some time to think about whether or not I'd go 140.6 miles again.
A few reasons I've come up with that point the needle to no:
1. I'm more of a one-and-done than a let's-repeat-the-same-course athlete. I'd rather do hundreds of new races than one race one hundred times; for me, it's much more about the adventure and experience than it is about beating my previous self.
And honestly, I had a pretty perfect race. As I said on the race recap podcast, I did better than I thought I would on my first round of SATs and thought if I studied more, I'd easily nab a scholarship to an Ivy League. (Aaah, the delusions of youth.) My second set of scores? Considerably lower.
Although experience helps with any race, I'm not sure I could put together a more fulfilling race. Yes, I may be able to get a bit faster finish, but is eight more months of work worth, say, 20 minutes off a daylong clock? For me, that answer is a definitive no.
2. The training drained me. Like duh, right? But there were nights when I didn't have the energy to wash my face because then I knew I'd have to apply lotion afterwards. Two steps of facial care was much too demanding, so I went for none (it's not like I was wearing make-up anyway, so no real harm). My bedtime, especially this spring, was closer to 8 p.m. than 9, and I got a little bitter at my kids who asked me to scratch their backs right before they fell asleep—usually a favorite part of my day—because that meant I had to get out of my own bed right as I was getting drowsy. Sometimes twice. (I know: cry me a river, right?) And I got into two minor fender benders—nothing or nobody hurt, minus my checkbook—which weren't exactly due to training, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have happened if my braining wasn't thick with Ironmothering.
3. And training was the easy part. I got to justify and make excuses for a lot of things that I wouldn't normally do. I deserve to buy dinner out for the third time this week because I'm so hungry and so tired. I will stop at Starbucks after the swim because I was up so early. I will go to bed now and let my husband fold the laundry because I am training. I will let Ben watch another episode of _____________ (fill in bad sitcom on Nick) because I don't have the energy to fight with him to turn it off. I didn't exactly become a diva—divas don't wear compression socks to bed—but I definitely had a moderate case of Ironmother entitlement.
Don't get me wrong: Husbands can fold laundry and mother runners definitely get to treat themselves to a latte. But eight months of continual, relentless focus on getting through 140.6 miles means a lot of important things went by the wayside. I dropped the ball on plenty of day-to-day things—appointments, prescriptions, phone calls, emails—because I just didn't have it in me. And I let some other, more important things lapse as well. (And yes, I realize that is really opaque, but this post is going to be too long as it is.)
Although the training is hard, it's not messy or complicated like relationships and working and parenting are. You get on the bike, you ride until you're pretty sure you've got a blister on your most delicate parts, and you're done. You get in the pool, you swim for so long, chlorine is running through your bloodstream, and you're done. And because you've been on the bike or in the pool for hours, you get to use the Ironmother excuse to validate not having hard conversations or digging into tasks you'd rather not do.
Plus, more often than not, the training makes you feel good, and then people admire you for spending hours sweating, doing this thing that has a clean beginning and ending and only requires some willpower and strength. I mean, the combination of crazy endorphins and the praise from you all sent me to the moon.
Addictive? Just a little bit. Healthy? The verdict for me—a married, working, mother of two who wants to retain all those facets of her life description—is probably not.
4. I got really sick of being with just myself. As much support and love as I felt from you all, I really missed my running pals and the companionship and compassion they bring to my life. (Our regular runs got sidetracked when I fractured my foot and had to build up my mileage again.) Those group runs are the only adult contact I have outside of Grant most days. I'll take a solo sweat over no sweat any day, but day after day after hour after hour of just me, myself, and I...well, by about month 5, enough already.
5. I want to go faster. More than anything, Ironmother solidified for me that triathlon is my sport. My mind loves the Swim Bike Run value pack, and my (mostly injury-free) body is on board too. I was so fortunate, in so many regards, to be able to strike a thick Sharpie line through Ironmother on my bucket list, that I just want to let it be.
I can honestly say with 98% certainty that the Ironman marathon was the last 26.2 miles I ever will put in on pavement again. But Coeur d'Alene got my wheels turning. I'll happily put in 13.1 or 6.2 or 3.1 at the end of a triathlon, hopefully at a faster pace than I've been able to do in the past.
I'll leave you with that exciting cliffhanger: She got in two accidents and now she's going to race again someday in some triathlon? This is better than Modern Family!
Do you make a mental pro/con list about a race after you do it? What items sway you to do a distance over—or try something new?