Well, it appears I have not updated for a week. Not that there has been much to say about my glamorous life as a loner triathlete training in Tucson. I had a couple of frustratingly restless afternoons outside of the training last week due to extreme boredom, but this week I seem to have settled in pretty well. After the training is done for the day I sift through my collection of DVD's I brought with me (I miss cable and my DVR!) and spend probably 15 minutes deciding which movie to watch for the 5th or 50th time, depending on which movie, only to fall asleep about ten minutes in, no matter which one I chose. So really I should probably just start putting in the first one I see, because it doesn't matter anyway.
Two things occurred to me this week: 1: a week from Saturday when I do the California 70.3 it will be my first half ironman in a year, coming off that race last year. That's ridiculous. Last season was scarily devoid of much actual racing if you don't count those two Ironmans I did. It was like a non-season. I was supposed to race Timberman in August but it was decided that it would only serve as an exercise in futility (and finisher hat and medal collecting) so I abstained. I feel like I haven't been at a race start line in a couple of years and it only just occurred to me that it's time to start worrying about the water temperature next week (upper 50's... brrr....)
The second thing that occurred to me is that this is the start of my tenth season in triathlons. That is just crazy to me. I graduated college, spent my first summer running just to keep in shape and riding my bike occasionally, and then the following summer had signed up for my first race, a sprint, and then jumped into Timberman (back when you could sign up like six weeks before) and learned a hard lesson in being prepared for the distance.... and doing a half ironman when it's 95 degrees out. It was all just a fun way to stay in shape and do some races here and there and now it has become the main focus of my life. It only took a couple of years, a Kona qualification and ultimately an Ironman "win" to get to that point. I used to show up at races and not know a soul and now I can show up almost anywhere in the U.S. it seems and wind up running into someone I've met along the way.
There have been countless yards of swimming, as well as miles of biking and running. Honestly, it does sometimes make me wonder if there are better ways to spend my time, but I still seem to keep coming back, even through the setbacks of the past few years, so I suppose I'll continue.
Yes, I'm still ready to get out of Tucson in spite of the ever-perfect weather. The past few bike rides I've gone on I keep thinking to myself, ok, I only have to ride down this road a few more times! And I couldn't be happier about it. I will not miss riding by the coyote carcass in Marana that has been there literally since the first ride I went on when I got here. It sort of amazes me that it is even still identifiable as a coyote, but it looks almost the same as when I first saw it in January.
I go back and forth with being excited about California. Over the past few years it has seemed to be a pretty good indicator of what kind of season I'm going to have. 2006? Solid race, leading to the best season ever. Did not race in 2007 because it was too close to Ironman Arizona. 2008? Unable to start because a week-and-a-half earlier I messed up my SI joint on a run and limped across the country anyway in the hopes of maybe magically waking up race morning to find things had gotten better. Instead I spent the day on the sidelines watching my friends race, leading up to most of the worst performances of my career (to that point). 2009 I wound up bettering my time from 2006, faster swim and bike but slower run, and finally came around to have some decent performances at Mooseman and Lake Placid and another Kona qualification. The problem there is that it's useless if you don't get to the start line healthy, and a stress fracture ensured that my day in the lava fields would be over after 114.4 miles.
That did not set me up to be in the best of mental states going into the 2010 season. And somehow I showed up in California just not into it. And my race performance showed it. I had a mediocre swim and bike and admittedly pretty much gave up on the run. What happened after that? Oh yeah, back to back new personal worsts for the Ironman. By hours, in fact. And, well, life got in the way at the end of that mess and left me feeling a little less than enthusiastic heading into the preparation for 2011.
But, well, I already paid for a few races and I can't seem to figure out what else to do with my time aside from swim, bike and run, so I decided to keep my plan of leaving town for the winter (I don't recall when I actually decided that initially, only that I knew I would shoot myself in the head if I had to spend another winter of Saturdays in the basement riding for 5 hours at a time, almost didn't come after September but ultimately decided to go for it) in the hopes that it would give me a head start in the right direction.
So, that remains to be seen, but as you can tell I feel like I have a lot riding on April 2nd. Even better though than just getting out and racing again will be finally seeing some old friends who always come out from New Hampshire. I've always enjoyed that race, too. Not so much the cold water, but a fairly tough but fair bike course and an easy flat run along the beach. Sometimes on that run you forget you're in a race. And while I'm not a fan of what WTC has done to many of my favorite races by buying them and changing them, California has always been the same and I've always expected that sort of big event feel from it, so it doesn't bother me. Although I'm not a huge fan of being in wave #18. Can I show up an hour after everyone else is supposed to? No matter how they arrange it, the women never get to go in one of the earlier waves.
But until then, a few more tough training sessions, a little bit of resting, eating what feels like my millionth plate of egg whites and vegetables and a nice, six-hour drive to prep me for the 3-ish day drive to Florida and the day-and-a-half drive from Florida back to NH. Oh, speaking of which, another thing I realized this week was that after all is said and done, I'll have been in 25 states during my little adventure. Or maybe 24, I can't figure out if on the final drive home I have to go through Delaware or not, but still. Not bad.