This saga just won’t end! Probably the most important experience of the race for me occurred afterwards though, and since I use this blog as my own journal, I want to make sure I record these thoughts.
After my race, we cheered in Gus, who did amazingly well. This race happened to be Gus’s first ride outside for the season. He likes to ride inside so that he and Jen can hold hands while they ride. In all seriousness, he worked his ass off on the computrainer with some of the crazy sessions I had him doing and it showed. Gus pulled down a solid seventh place in his age group. Next, we cheered in Jeff Molson. Jeff loves a challenging course and is already signing up for next year. I always have fun hanging out with Jeff and this trip was no different, with the exception that Lisa also got to hang out with us and laugh a bunch.
I then rode back to the Buccaneer, showered up and went down to the beach grill for a burger and a beer. What I love about ½ IM’s is that after racing hard at a challenging distance, there is still half the day left to relax, relish in your accomplishment, and have some unhealthy food and drink.
The awards were at night on the other side of the island at a resort. This is where they hand out slots for Hawaii and Las Vegas. Originally, there were supposed to be three slots for the Hawaii Ironman. They allocate the slots based on the number of finishers in each age group. Typically, the biggest age groups in triathlon range from 35 to 49. So they call up the top three in each age group, and when they bring my group up, they announce that there are only two Hawaii slots?! I later realized that 1/3rd of my age group DNF’d and therefore they allocated the third slot to another age group. Lisa looked sad for me. She said “Go race Buffalo Springs and get your slot – you always do great there.” That night I hardly slept. I woke Lisa up early and told her I had sort of an epiphany, which was “Lis, I don’t think I want to do Hawaii this year.” “What?! Are you sure??” she replied.
Here’s the thing; twice before since 96’, I went to qualifying races and didn’t qualify, narrowly missing the slot. When this happened, it really pissed me off, and I couldn’t wait to sign up for the next ½ IM qualifier (I still call them ½ IM’s. For the newer tri generation, this means 70.3.) - I have only qualified at ½’s (besides 2000 where I qualified at IMLP but turned the slot down) because I know that I am only good for one IM a year, and I love the ½ IM distance. But I really wasn’t that pissed at the awards last night and I didn’t have much desire to go chasing the next ½ with Hawaii slots. And then it hit me that this year, I just want to get back to racing, but it doesn’t have to be Hawaii. I love that race and respect it like no other. But I’ve raced there eight times and I’ve done it quite well while keeping balance in my real life. This one race doesn’t need to define me. Maybe I still felt as though I had something to prove there? By saying that I wanted to take my kids there to see this incredible race, was that just an excuse for me to not feel selfish about going back? Am I trying to recapture something by going back often? Do I need to prove anything to anyone else by racing there again? I love Hawaii. I love the race, I love the island and I’ve had some amazing experiences there. And I’ll go back again to participate in that great race. But I realized that it doesn’t need to be this year and that I don’t even want to race a full IM this year. Lisa was smart. She asked “Maybe you need to wait a bit. Maybe the harshness of the heat and humidity from yesterday’s race is still too fresh?” But I almost felt a bit relieved and my mind felt clear. If I wanted to go back that bad this year, I would have been angry at the awards and I would have been on the computer as soon as we got back to the hotel. I was helping Molson pack up his bike just after breakfast and he said to me “You know, I like how I feel now after racing a ½. Maybe I will focus on ½ IM’s for a while.” I agree.
Listen, I realize how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to race there once, let alone eight times. And I realize that triathlon is just a passion. I’m excited to race a few more ½’s this year, including Las Vegas, the new ½ IM world championships. I also want to do some more Olympic Distance and sprint races.
Lisa and I did a catamaran trip that day out to Buck Island where I snorkeled along the underwater trail in the national park and came face to face with a big old barracuda. On the ride back from Buck Island, the captain hoisted the sails, put on some Bob Marley, and passed out some rum punch. And I thought “You know what? Life is pretty good!”