Why I didn’t race after 20 weeks of training: Part 1

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

They’re racing at Rev3 South Carolina this morning. I was supposed to be there making my 5th attempt at a sub-5:30 half ironman. But I’m not there.

I trained for 20 weeks for the race; up to 60 miles on the bike at race pace – sometimes riding faster than I’ve ever ridden in training. Several 13 mile runs on tired legs – feeling stronger each time. I did the work. Just like every race before. 20 weeks is a long time.

How do you bail out on something you’ve invested 20 weeks in?

My heart was never in it. You can’t race for 5-6 hours when your hearts not in it. I’m tired of going through the motions. I’m learning to listen to my heart more these days. I’m only doing the things my heart is in.

I’m exploring my priorities more often. Trying not to take my self so seriously all of the time.

This time it was the journey. Not the destination. And somehow I knew that they whole way. It sounds cliche. But I’m okay with that.

I discovered things about myself this triathlon season. That’s a victory. Ultimately, that’s what its all about for age-group athletes anyway. It’s not always about getting the “best” out of yourself every time. I’ve learned that constant, relentless pursuit of self improvement can lead to emptiness. I’ve been there before. You can’t fill the void that exists with accomplishments. My best isn’t always the things I do. It’s important to rest sometimes in understanding that stillness is what you need.

I think in this case I had to learn that I could walk away having done the work and still be okay with who I am without the race. Simple as it seems, that’s enlightenment for me. Somehow it has something to do with Faith.

Stillness isn’t the only reason I didn’t go, but it’s part of it. I think it was the deciding factor.

I had a good year. I raced well at Rev3 Knoxville despite not hitting my time goal. I felt strong that day, like I’ve started to figure out my half iron pacing. I plan to try there again next year. I want to beat my time goal on a tough race course. And so far, Knoxville is the hardest course I’ve raced. I had a good day in Chattanooga as well. I went faster than I thought I would. It’s one of my favorite races and I’ll be there again next year as well. My final race of the year was Music City. I lead blind national champion Jeremy Winters to the paratriathlon overall win. We stayed on the front of the race for over an hour, before finally being passed on the run by a handful of athletes who can see. Meeting and serving Jeremy Winters changed my life.

I’m looking forward to next year. I still love triathlon. Now as much as ever, I think. I sat and watched the athletes racing in Kona yesterday and was inspired. I still plan to break 5:30 for half iron distance. I’m also planning to race faster over shorter distances than I have in a long time next year.

But this weekend, I needed to be still.

I made the right decision. We had one of the best weekends ever. I would have missed it if I had gone.  My priorities won out and I’m more proud of that than any race time I may have posted. I’ll tell you about our weekend in Part 2 of this letter.

I love you,

– Daddy