I don’t plan to bother you with this kind of thing often, but if no one minds, I’d like to use this public space to ask for the collective wisdom of my readers.
I am having a small dilemma that I need to resolve quickly–several weeks ago would have been the appropriate time, but here I am still stressing and stuck.
When I did the triathlon in June, I met Mary and learned that she lives in my neighborhood. A few weeks later, she was driving by and recognized me out walking the dog and stopped to chat. We have since pointed out our respective houses to each other and spoken less than half a dozen times, but in that time I told her about the open water sprint triathlon I was considering doing October 3, she looked it up online, and the next time we saw each other, we agreed to do the race together.
Yay!! Training partner!
Yay!! Race day buddy!
But, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. We haven’t exchanged contact info and unless we cross on the street, we don’t see each other. We agreed to go look at the lake where the tri is taking place a few weekends ago, but the weekend came and went without us catching up with each other and actually setting a time. So we haven’t visited the lake together. Even worse, I haven’t visited any lake at all. And worst of all, I haven’t even signed up for the race–which I was informed tonight in an email from the race directors is 78% full and closing this weekend.
The Whole, Big, Whiny List of Reasons Why I Don’t Want to Do the Race
After the last triathlon concluded, I said to myself, “see, you CAN follow a training schedule!” Then I said, “But if you don’t want to finish last in your next triathlon, you really need to rock on the bike–your true strength–and shore up the running–your biggest challenge. So let’s create a NEW training schedule!” And I did. I created a beautiful, dare I say perfect, training schedule and posted it on the refrigerator so I could see where I was every day and proudly check off each workout as I completed it.
The problem with perfection is that it has no place in my real life, which this summer included: finally finding someone awesome to create the website I need for work, trying (in my weird way) to get geared up to publish the book, writing some, drawing some, trying to figure out how to keep an art gallery open, and trying to buy a new house. It doesn’t sound that horrible until you take into account that the training schedule I created included three swims, three runs, and three bikes per week PLUS a 30 minute walk each day (I have to walk the dog, anyway, right?) PLUS five days of circuit training, even though most serious triathletes only lift weights in the off season. If rocking at this triathlon were my only goal for the summer, I might have been able to approximate that schedule – but the truth is, the plan and I were both doomed to failure the moment I printed and posted it.
I did a few of the workouts for the first few weeks, then I got discouraged and busy with other more pressing things and I stopped going to the pool altogether. I haven’t been on my bike for several weeks–even though the last two times I rode I was finding new gears and getting excited about my progress. Running, oddly enough, has fared the best, maybe because I can do it in the dark before anyone is up to see me chugging along and because it requires the least amount of prep time. But now I’ve been having problems with the knee I injured prior to the Big Ride, I know I need new shoes, and I’m reluctant to get back out there.
And since I’m whining, I may as well post ALL of my excuses: I need new shorts for the race–at the last triathlon I had to keep pulling my shorts up in the water!, as well as new running shoes; I haven’t been in open water since 2002 and without some practice and mental preparation I might seriously not survive the swim; and the weather has turned cold and the thought of doing a lake swim does not turn me on (although the water probably won’t be any colder than Seattle lake temps in the summer!). And the really big one: if I enter the race, I probably will finish the race, but I will likely finish last–potentially by a much bigger margin than I did earlier this summer.
So, to Sum Up:
Doing the race means spending at least $200 on race fees and gear three weeks before I’m going to close on a new house, potentially dying of panic-induced drowning in COLD open water, and (provided I live) holding up the award ceremony by half an hour as all other 299 participants wait for me to drag my butt to the finish line.
What I Could Do, if Mary Weren’t Part of the Equation:
I would skip the race, simplify my training schedule to something like swimming two mornings a week, doing two long bike rides a month, and walking five miles a day until I can get new running shoes, then transitioning into training for the half-marathon I’d like to do in March.
What I Could Do, Take 2:
Because Mary is part of the equation, I feel obligated to do the race. I could sign up tomorrow, get out to a lake this weekend for some open water experience, do a thirty mile ride on Saturday, buy a new pair of shoes (and plan on holding my shorts up while I swim?), and at the race try to get in the water in a middle wave so I’m not finishing every leg dead last.
What I’d REALLY Like to Do:
NOT sign up for the race but knock on Mary’s door and offer to be her training partner for the next 10 days–I’d be happy to do some open water swims or get out on the bike with her–and be her chauffeur and cheering section on race day. Parking is two miles away from the race start, so she might really appreciate having someone drop off her and her gear so she doesn’t have to deal with shuttles.
The question that arises from that scenario, however, is: if I’m going to do all of those things (lake swims, bike rides, going to the race), why not race? And I think the answer is that I just know I’m not trained, which means the race has a really good chance of being no fun at all. Bottom line: I just don’t want to do it.
So, what do you think? Do I power through, make good on my promise to Mary, lay out the cash for new gear and race fees, do my best, and suffer all the physical and emotional consequences of this summer’s poor time and expectation management? Or, is it okay to ask Mary to do the race alone and offer to do everything short of crossing the starting line of the race to support her?