Running through the trails today on a crisp 9 miler, it came to me quite clearly why I feel rejuvenated in my quest towards Hawaii this year. Sure, I took some down time, but the real reason has to do with plain and simple maturity. God, I hate to admit it, but I think I might just be maturing.
When I first raced the Hawaii IM as a "kid" in 96', it really threw me. Not only physically, but I wasn't expecting to experience what I did experience. After coaching hundreds threw IM's, it's quite clear that this emotional suprise is a regular for first timers. Coming off of this high, we can easily go through some post IM depression. Sounds silly but there has been university studies on this, showing that it's a very common occurrence. Instead of dealing with the PIMD, I quickly committed to qualifying to go back in 97'. Same for 98', 99', ... You get the picture. In the 90's, I had way less priorities, so in addition to trying to hang onto this "experience", I was also trashing myself in training, learning first hand what to do and more importantly, what not to do, in pursuit of fast times.
As much as I respect this race, what made my six trips proceeding 96' was the fact that Lisa and I had an amazing time and we learned a lot about the amazing island. I guess that as much as I loved this race, I loved the island and the trip there with my wife that much more. I still never regretted the race - keep in mind that I said I loved the race. However, it was a love hate relationship for sure. I mean, this is a brutal race.
Back to the present, I no longer feel a "need" to get back there. I don't feel as though I'm trying to recapture something that defines me, like a high school hero 40 lbs overweight and 10 years out of school still reliving his glory years, or like a bride in a bad marriage still watching her wedding day video. I never let the IM define me - it was something I enjoyed and loved yet wasn't something that made me me. I am fired up that I'm going back to the Big Island, and energized at the thought of toeing the line once again. But it no longer feels like I'm doing it to relive something. Rather, it feels like I am going back there just to challenge myself and do something that I love. I don't know. Maybe I'm not maturing at all and I'm not making any sense. All that I know is that it feels different this year, I don't feel "obligated", and it feels right!
Again, we'll see how it pans out on October 10th.