With 2017 well underway at this point (hello February!), we’ve officially hit the mid-winter doldrums at school. Still, I’m looking forward to a break coming up, and a short month will probably feel better too, especially as the days grow longer by small increments.
I’ve mentioned time and again that a full embrace of life in Colorado has come along a bit slower than I expected, and it’s challenged me, but that I need/want to bridge that gap this year. One major piece that will give me more of a sense of stability and direction is now in place (at least for the next 12 months) – the job front! Basically, I feel as though I’ve been looking for a future job for the past 15 months. Even when I’ve had a job (last spring and throughout this academic year), the situation seemed uncertain and left me feeling unsatisfied. I haven’t had a full-time contract for this year, and I signed it fully aware of that situation, but it’s chaffed to not be truly invested in the community and in teaching. A large part of my sense of dissatisfaction stems from the fact that I’ve felt guilty about not contributing to our household finances (this is full disclosure here!), but it also goes deeper than that. At my last school and even the Swiss gig, I felt over,-involved, which I loved. People (teachers) often bitch and moan about that aspect of teaching, but it’s also something that most teachers enjoy – or they wouldn’t do it. For me, being “all in” regarding the school community energizes me while taking a more laissez-faire attitude has the opposite effect, leaving me with a sense of inertia. So, that’s a long explanation to say that I’ve had an offer that for the next 2 years. It will, yes, keep me teaching middle school Spanish (sigh – that is another topic altogether!) but will also give me a sense of stability and focus.
Now that I’ve dealt with the job front and accepted, in more ways than one, where I am, I felt that I could forward in other ways. Such as… Training! Committing to an Ironman in 2017! Or, not…
Seriously, I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on the IM 2017 commitment. A part of me really wanted to sign up for Whistler. In fact, a friend and I, back in early fall, decided that we would sign up for IM Canada the day after Election Day (ahem, that didn’t happen for either one of us; our thought was that if the election didn’t go as we hoped – surprise, it didn’t! – we would have something to look forward to; we were both too depressed afterwards to even think about an IM). Despite not signing up in November, I did start to ramp up training and then decided to sign up on January 1st. Which came and went, nary a race registration in sight. Some of it has to do with the fact that I’ve had a setback in terms of running – and have not been running since mid-November, which has left me feeling frustrated and less than motivated. While I’ve seen progress in the pool (finally!), and the bike feels good (although I’m already tired of the trainer!), it is hard for me to commit to a full distance race with the question, as I’m just starting out, “Will I be able to train for the run?”. That, however, wasn’t the only issue that unsettled me – I started to think about my year and my summer and how I wanted them to unfold, and spending so much time, energy and other resources to an IM race this year just felt forced, which is no way to motivate a person.
Also, as strange as it may seem, I think that another factor that influenced me was the book How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald. I read this back in January and really enjoyed it – Fitzgerald is one of my favorite “sports” writers. At the time, I thought that it would inspire me and help me commit. Instead, my take-away is that I just don’t want it *enough*, at least not this year. I don’t want to get out of bed at 5:00 am every day, and when I get home from what is often not a terribly long, difficult day at work, I’d rather open up a book and read rather than get on the trainer. I think that I could establish enough of a base to then really train, train, train this summer, but would that get me to a place where I could perform my best on race day? I think not!
It’s not that I won’t continue to pursue swim/bike/running goals – I’d like to continue to improve in the pool and on the bike and eventually get back to running (which is a topic for a different day), but, for now, an iron-distance event isn’t the goal. Coming around to this decision hasn’t been easy as I would deeply love to train and “race” another full distance event again. However, once I made the decision, a bit like the job piece, I felt MORE motivated and excited about what’s to come. So, this seems a bit oxymoronic – to back away from a major commitment that, perhaps, would have given me a goal and a drive for the next few months, and then find my mojo. But, maybe this lack of single-minded focus will let me regain the sense of play and exploration that triathlon initially offered me, one of the reasons that it appealed so much. Plus, and this is a theme that has resonated for well over a year, I keep thinking that Colorado is offering more than just swim/bike/run and I need to take advantage of the trails and the 14ers and just get outside and be in a different headspace for a bit. So, while I’m saying good-bye to a full IM, I don’t have a deep sense of loss. I love the deep commitment that, for me, training for an IM requires, but there are other ways to find a commitment to an active, outdoorsy life – and those, for now, feel right.