Saturday, August 22, 2009

What motivates you??

I'm here in Kelowna this weekend for the Apple Triathlon National Championships, not racing, but supporting my good friend Tash and a group of other athletes from my club. I'm still really enjoying my time off, and today after a day surrounded by motivated, fit, geared up, race-ready athletes, while I thought I might feel the itch to race, I'm still quite happy to not be racing, and enjoying the down time.

In fact, this past week I've struggled with how much I'm actually enjoying my time off. I'm starting to question if it's normal to feel this releived that I'm through with Triathlon (for the season). I've really been embracing all the things I've been able to do with my free time including having all this extra energy to divvy up into my work and into my social life. This is something I knew was a challenge when I was in full training, but I guess I didn't really realize how true it really is until you get that time and energy back.

I've started to question myself, and my goals for triathlon. Specifically, I've started to question my commitment to Ironman 2010. For the past 8 months, I've completely dedicated myself to triathlon. I've focused, persevered, sacrificed and dedicated day after day for something that I truly believed in. I've had an incredible year and I'm so proud of everything that I've accomplished and learned, but in doing this, it's now become very clear the sheer magnitude of the goals that I've set for myself and exactly what achieving those goals will mean for my personal life, my professional life, my family and all other aspects of my life that otherwise function unaffected by my training efforts and commitments. I question myself now: am I willing to continue to make those sacrifices?

I read an article today in Triathlon Magazine that asks the question "What Motivates You?" It spoke about the rational and irrational motivators that we use to achieve our goals. It summed up the differences as rational reasons for competing in Triathlon being the "respectable and easy to explain to your friends" reasons. The irrational reasons are more complicated, personal and deep. The irrational motivations can be embarrassing and difficult to identify with. They are emotional and can illuminate our deepest fears and desires. It got me thinking about my motivations, and it couldn't have come at a better time given my recent streak of question and doubt.

So today, while laying quietly in the summer sun, I asked myself: "What do I do this for?"

I've always believed that the Ironman is not a race of the body, but of the mind. It's not something anyone participates in to brag about their time, or what place they finished, it's about achieving something that at the beginning seems so unachievable, it's about finding out what you're made of and finishing what you start. What makes this race so beautiful is that it's not something anyone wakes up one day and decides they will do, it's typically something that is on a "to do before I die" type of list, or it's something dreamed of for many years before, and at the very least (as registration is done a year in advance) for the past year, this race has changed lives. Lives not only of each Ironman participant, but of their families who sacrifice time away from their spouses/moms/dads etc and still support them through their training and encourage them through their doubt. It's about the friends and acquaintances that have been inspired and moved by their commitment to achieve. Of course, it's about the journey. The long, long road that, from the finish line, stretches so much further back than the 42km run, back further than the 180km bike or thru the waters 3.8km. It's the journey of hundreds of miles, countless laps in the pool, emotional, physical and psychological triumphs and failures.

Obsessed with this race since my first encounter with an Ironman in 2006, I made it my 5 year goal to complete an Ironman. Starting with a couple if Try-a-Tri's in 2006, I learned enough to move into Sprint distance races for 2007. In 2008 I learned a little more, and falling a little more in love with the sport, I completed my first Olympic distance race. This year, I've trained harder and put in more to Triathlon than I ever have before and out of it I completed the hardest Half-Iron distance race in North America. In the same year, I completed a second half ironman and my first Ironman 70.3 series race. In 2010 I plan to reach my ultimate goal and complete the Ironman. Talk about journey's....

So what's my irrational motivation? The journey. The lessoned learned in those long lonely miles. The sense of pride in finishing something you know, without a doubt, that you deserve. There are times in our lives where we all take free rides. We cut corners, get praise for things we didn't necessarily earn, and sometimes reap the benefits of simply being in the right place at the right time. There's nothing wrong with that, I'm not saying that I'm taking a free ride anywhere, I'm just saying that in triathlon, and specifically with the Ironman, there isn't anyone that will get you to that finish line besides yourself. When you do, it's all yours. To celebrate. To consume. To soak in and know - you did it.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I get so much more out of this sport than what's on the surface. This passion runs deep for me and I hope that everyone has the opportunity to find something they can be passionate about.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

I 'heart' summer

So it's going to be tough to keep blogging the next few weeks. Now that I've completed my last race of the season, I am making the absolute most of the summer. I've been on more patios, drank more beer and stayed up later in the last two weeks than I have in all of 2009 so far. It's been awesome.

Last week I played beach volleyball on a Tuesday night for a friend that was down a player and we went out for beer on a patio afterwards. Friday night I went out for drinks with a friend that was in town from Toronto and we stayed up waayyy to late. Saturday I was up in Whistler watching a mountain bike competition and was not shy with the beer and pizza (again) while enjoying a summertime patio.

I still managed to get in at least an hour long workout every day either in the gym, in the pool, a run and a nice 2 hr bike ride this morning (all that beer and pizza comes at a price you know), but it's been really nice doing it all for the exercise and not for the "training".

Next weekend Tash is off to Kelowna to race and I'll be joining her as the official team TriHard cheerleader. It should be alot of fun. The weekend after that is IRONMAN CANADA!!! I"m still pretty excited to be volunteering. It'll be a great way to close off the summer.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Calgary Ironman 70.3

Last weekend I was in Calgary and completed the Ironman 70.3. What an awesome race and an awesome weekend. It seems like ages ago now - its been a very crazy week since I've been back. I flew home Monday morning (early) and went straight from the airport to the beach where I helped set up for the World Police & Fire Games beach volleyball which I was volunteering for all week.

The race in Calgary was great, and not just for the race, but for the whole weekend. Mostly because I got to spend it with my Mom and share with her a little bit of my passion. She's so supportive and it was just incredible to have her there cheering me on.

I'm having a hard time getting a blog out this week, partially because I'm a bit tired from a crazy busy week of long days at the beach followed by late nights out "experiencing" the Games. :)

I think the real reason for lagging behind in the review and break down of my race, something I typically really enjoy looking back on and re-living via the blogging experience, is that despite my AMAZING season this year, and how much fun I had..... I'm sort of relieved it's over.

Yes, I'm kind of glad to see my race season come to an end for now. I've been training hard, been completely dedicated and focused on training and being completely involved in Triathlon for the last 8 months, that I'm really looking forward to just enjoying what remains of the summer.

I love Triathlon and everything it gives too me... but like everything - you get out what you put in, and I've put in alot. I'm enjoying the relief from training schedules and commitments. I'm really enjoying my time off and I think I will take it pretty easy for the next while.