With so many race opportunities, how can anyone choose?
Today, I hit another milestone in my recovery from ankle surgery: For the first time in almost a year, I ran a full hour without pain.
Naturally, the experience has me convinced I’m ready to start training for a big race again —a marathon, maybe, or perhaps another Ironman. It’s not a logical leap for most people, I know, that 6 miles can lead to 26.2, but this runner’s brain is flooded with endorphins and there’s no room left for logic-juice.
“I know!” I exclaimed to my husband as I browsed race sites. “I’ll sign up for a late-season Ironman! Or maybe a fall marathon. Do you think I could be back on track for a Boston qualifier then? Or maybe I should train for that ultra I’ve always wanted to do…”
“How ‘bout you start with a 5K, babe?” Neil sighed, knowing full well his suggestion would fail to register in my endorphin-addled brain.
For a year, I’ve fantasized about the races I would do when I was finally healthy again. I had plans—big ones. Plans to sign up for my hometown marathon, qualify for Boston, join my little sister for her first half marathon, tackle a local trail race series and redeem a bad performance at my last Ironman. In Fantasyland, I’d accomplish all these things in one weekend, because even in Fantasyland I put myself under pressure to make up for a whole year of missed opportunities.
Now that I’m capable of making those daydreams become reality, it no longer excites me—I feel overwhelmed and (if I must be honest) terrified. While browsing race calendars for my next big challenge, I feel like a child at Disney World: I can’t decide between Space Mountain, the Jungle Cruise, or the Teacups, but I know if I stand around waiting too long, I’m going to miss the chance to ride.
With so many ambitions, it’s easy to become paralyzed trying to decide which one to tackle first. It’s a blessing to be a part of a sport offering so many events every weekend; it’s also a curse to be part of a sport offering so many events every weekend, because I want to do them all, dammit.
It’s human nature to be ambitious and aspirational. The constraints of time and space, however, remind me I can only do so much. That’s probably the hardest part of this process—accepting the limitations I want so badly to ignore. I simply can’t do it all.
Some people suggest indecisiveness is a sign one should wait – with time, the best choice will reveal itself like a Magic 8 Ball. I’m not so sure I agree, because I’m not sure there is a “best” choice here.
You see, as I struggled to prioritize my stockpiled fantasies from my injury hiatus, I realized they’re all the exact same dream, but with different scenery. Yes, I want to do marathons and Ironmans and trail races and every race on the calendar, but deep down, that’s not what I’ve really been lusting after for the last year. My ultimate goal isn’t to cover a specific distance, set a PR, or even qualify for Boston.
All this time, I thought I wanted so badly to do all the races when truly I spent a year dreaming of being healthy enough to do any race. It doesn’t matter which event I train for—it’s that my body’s allowing me to go out there and do it. I couldn’t say that a year ago. Why am I wasting time today trying to decide the best way to celebrate that?
If I stand around waiting too long, I’m going to miss the chance to ride.
About The Author:
Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). Susan lives and trains in Salt Lake City, Utah with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete husband. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke