Now what? Dealing with post race letdown:
Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
I swam this morning. It was just an easy 1000 yard “mostly pull” swim, but it was good to wake up early and stretch out a little. I spent the first part of this week not really knowing what to do with my time now that I’m not training for an event. I slept in, browsed a lot of magazines, read a lot of baseball box-scores, and started a new book.
My first memory of post-event letdown was after I won the state wrestling tournament in 1993. After the initial excitement faded and people stopped patting me on the back, I began to wonder “now what?”. I eventually started wondering “why did I care so much?”I was on top of the world in most people’s eyes, but I was lost. College wrestling didn’t excite me and so I was faced with reinventing myself. It wasn’t easy and initially I did bad job of it. Because I was young and immature it took me years to move on.
As an adult triathlete I’ve come to understand that reaction to the completion of a big goal is normal. For some it’s graduating from college, getting the big promotion, or getting married that leads to “now what?” I read that one of my favorite writers sank into a depression after publishing his first best seller. That’s all he’d ever wanted.
It’s been awhile since I’ve dealt with that. After doing Ironman 70.3 Austin I was already deciding which one was next and by the time I had signed up for Ironman 70.3 Florida in May I had also signed up for Ironman 70.3 Boulder in August. I didn’t have time for a let down.
I’m handling it “okay” after Rev3 Knoxville. I’ve already been looking at what’s next. Cedar Point? Wisconsin Dells? Augusta? Anderson? I know it has to be a half-iron distance event to keep me motivated. I still have work to do there. Understanding that has me excited instead of depressed. I’m hopeful, not lost.
That’s part of the beauty of triathlon. It’s a sport I can compete in until I’m ready to have a seat in my rocking chair. There’s always a “next time” and a next race – if that’s what I choose. Luckily, I haven’t been injured in awhile, excluding the bout of pneumonia I had after Austin, so I haven’t had to cope with extended periods of “now what?”
I think most importantly, I’ve learned to appreciate the journey. When I finished Rev3 on Sunday I thought back to the path I’d followed to get to that finish line and the sacrifices our entire family has made over the years for me to pursue this sport. I couldn’t be disappointed or sad that it was over on Sunday. I was full of so much hope, because of the way our family pulls together and moves forward.
For me it’s a simple process after the race now:
1. appreciate the journey I just took instead of focusing on where it left me
2. spend a few days being still and listening to my body/spirit
3. establish a new goal
I’d like to think that you kids could take that same process and apply it to your life – whether you become athletes or not.
I love you,
I believe that man will not merely endure. He will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. – William Faulkner