The number one question I’ve been getting recently has been (and you have to do it in the right tone of voice): “Sooooooo, what are you doing now?”
Living my best life, bitches. Oh, and trips, lots of trips. Right now, I’m in Vancouver for the Women’s World Cup, which I would write more about, but I’m tired and I’m on vacation, so suffice it to say: women’s soccer — kind of like men’s but I actually care about it, and Canada — really a totally different country, eh.
The second most common question I’ve been getting lately is some variation on: “Ohhh, so you’re not racing pro? You’re just doing it for fun now?”
To which I’m like, “Wasn’t it always fun?
But, also, let’s be very clear about something: No, I am not “just” doing it for fun. Besides the whole set of issues stemming out of what constitutes “fun” and why you choose this as your “fun,” etc, etc, and the misunderstandings (and boring jokes) that arise between those who choose strenuous activities for “fun” and the general population. Putting all that aside, no, I’m not just out here casually signing up for Ironman Wisconsin so I can enjoy the beautiful course or whatever. I could do that for a whole lot less money and time. No, I’m not just doing it for fun. I am actually training, seriously.
So, why am I not racing pro? Particularly when I’ve been very vocal about the fact that more women, especially those who have qualified for their elite/pro license multiple times, should race in that category?
1. I have not qualified multiples of times. Not to lay all my insecurities bare or whatever, but if there was a mandatory upgrade system, I would not be one of the people forced to upgrade. Since I came back from my two-year break from triathlon I have re-qualified for my elite/pro card once? I dunno, I actually haven’t check, but probably not even once. (EDIT: Hah, checked, yeah, nope, not once.) And, despite having probably my best races ever at Wildflower and Alcatraz, I lost both of them to “amateur” girls who have qualified for their pro/elite licenses more than a dozen times. As I joked with one of The Kids: it’s not that I’m not training, it’s that I’m not winning.
2. When I decided to come back to triathlon just to do Ironman Canada, I kind of thought that might be it. I’d do an Ironman, see if it was my thing (hah), and then two days later I’d start my journalism program and pour myself into my career. Basically, I’d get this triathlon thing out of my system. Sort of. So, of course I wouldn’t opt to do my first, last, and possibly only Ironman as an elite/pro.
3. OK, so I was wrong about #2. Kinda. I was right that I really wasn’t excited about triathlon after IM Canada and I was ready to just like become a famous writer instead (also, hah). But then I started racing with The Kids and it was fun again. They drove me crazy sometimes, but they also weren’t annoying triathletes and there was an excitement that had been missing. Trying to get in shape for fast, hard, and short stuff with them was different and a challenge. And—and here’s the big thing—it made me like triathlon again and realize that, hey, I’m not terrible at this.
4. So. So. So.
I have about five years left of physical peak. Maybe. In that time, I’d like to actually see what I can do. Actually for real. Not when I’m also working 60 hours/week. Not when I’m injured all the time. Not when I’m burned out. I’d like to actually train hard and see what I’m capable of. And that’s where we are. Which means that no, I’m not racing pro/elite. Not yet. (Maybe not ever. Maybe the best I am won’t be good enough. We’ll see.) What I am doing is building a base and training and not worrying about the bullshit.
This is partially why I’ve just sort of disappeared. I’ve had my head down and am trying to get the work done. And not think about it too hard. Really, not think about it. It’s not that I’m insanely busy (though, also, that some), it’s more that I stopped keeping a log of my workouts, stopped worrying about it. I just can’t even anymore with caring about the bullshit. I’m just doing what Hillary tells me to do and we’ll see what happens.
Oh, and I started training with Hillary Biscay. There were a lot of reasons I thought training with her for IM Wisconsin made sense (like, you know, she’s won it) and I think she does a really good job with shaping girls (women? whatever) of my approximate level, but also, I just felt like she got me, like I could just hand everything off and not worry about pissing her off or being mean or stressing or whatever. And so that’s what I’ve done. And maybe the best things I’ve been writing lately have been my training logs to her — though not in terms of punctuation and spelling, because, man, my stream of conscious is not a good copyeditor — but that’s just how it’s going to be for a little while.
It also prompted a conversation where she actually looked at my training logs and was either insanely horrified or insanely impressed with how l little volume I do. Which, like, yeah, yeah, I know. Then a week later, Steve was talking to me about how he could fit training for Tahoe 70.3 in around a very busy work schedule and I laid out for him what I used to do when I had a very busy full-time office work schedule. After I laid an approximate week out, he says, “No one could be good on that low volume.” Ummm, well, that’s pretty much the volume I did. *long pause* Him: “If you trained more, you could actually be really good.”
Yeah, yeah, I know.
So. We’ll see how this seriously training thing goes.