Thursday, January 1, 2009

Nothing Left To Prove

Although 2008 didn't end quite the way I had hoped it would, the past few months certainly have provided me with a lot of time to think about things.

I'm rolling into 2009 busier than ever on the coaching front. I'm currently working with 32 athletes, many of whom are showing some real promise! I'm very excited to watch my crew in action this year and am expecting some great things. I never lose sight of how lucky I am to do what I do for a living and am at all times driven by my love for the work. I get up every day and do what I've always dreamt of doing. It doesn't get any better than that!

Personally, the forced down time I've taken thanks to the knee injury has allowed me some time to reflect on my own athletic undertakings. The bottom line: I can honestly say that I don't feel as though I have anything left to prove to myself or anyone else now. I think that I finally got that monkey off my back. For far too many years, I was motivated to train and race by a constant feeling of inadequacy. I was trying to make up for lost time and lost opportunities; a high school and collegiate running career that fell short, my first go around with triathlon back in the mid - late 90s - 2001. You name it. I wanted to prove that I could hold my own against the best. So... I set out back out in 2006 with one singular objective: To beat as many people as I could and to ascend the tri ranks as quickly as possible.

Fast forward to 2008: After 2 years of great AG results I turned pro and started racing head to head against the big boys. Although I took my fair share of lumps, I also more than held my own, routinely laying down some of the fastest run and/or bike splits on the 70.3 circuit every time out. Out running Galindez (split wise) at RI 70.3 and out biking guys like Alexander and Cunningham (once again, split wise) at Muskoka 70.3 left me, more than anything... satisfied. I don't care that I "only" came in 6th and 5th overall (respectively) in those races, I had finally proven to myself once and for all that I could at least hang. And for me... that's enough.

At this point in my life, I'm really not interested in flying all over the world to race. I love Gloucester and hate being away. I also hate flying, staying in crappy hotels, eating on the road, and wasting my money paying for all of these things!

In the end, life as a "pro" really isn't all that it's cracked up to be. As a matter of fact, there's no difference between racing pro and age-group. Outside of the occasional comped entry and homestay, you have to deal with the same travel related B.S., the same bad food, the same pre-race stress, etc. The only thing that changes is your position on the bike racks and the fact that you leave shore in the first wave every time out.

Well, at 33, I find that I'm more excited by the thought of having a nice home here in Gloucester; perhaps a place with a small on-site office/testing center and a free room that my athletes can crash in when they come to visit. I'm also interested in making time to pursue other interests that are in no way related to triathlon. Given the nature of my work, I spend almost every waking hour either talking about triathlon, writing about triathlon, or physically preparing to compete in triathlon. For most people, it's their hobby. As a full time coach, it's my job. Like any job, no matter how much you love it, if you don't make time for other things, you're on the fast track to burn out.

I was talking with one of my new athletes the other day, former Pro tennis player and rising tri star (watch out for this guy in '09, he is going to be GOOD) Quinn Borchard, who hails from CA. He was asking me about Ironman. Yes, I've hinted that I plan on hitting at least one Ironman in '09. But this year, I find that I'm motivated to compete for different reasons. When I started in with triathlon back in 1995, I was was motivated to do so because I craved the pure adventure of the sport. I didn't care about sponsorship, beating people, media exposure etc. I just wanted to ride my bike and run. And yes, some things never change: I only swam (and continue to do so!) because it was a necessary evil. Outside of distance swimming in the ocean, I'll NEVER like swimming. It's THE worst and mind numbingly boring. But I digress; I find that I've come full circle.

I'm looking forward to all that 2009 holds in store and a return to my roots. I'm going to pick a handful of the most challenging long course tris I can find (all preferably within driving distance of Gloucester!) next year and have at it, my only motivation being the simple challenge that I'll face by pushing myself on a bunch of rugged courses against good competition.

It's as simple as that.

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

AJ said...

you found it.