What Petra did next? Oh – the rest of her life. Because it turns out I kind of left that for a while. While I was beating myself up over the summer for not putting enough emphasis on my training (and it’s true, I could have trained harder) it appears I left a lot of other stuff undone. My inbox could have choked a donkey. Paperwork everywhere. Things I really should have dealt with, not dealt with. Not in a haha way, but in a “oh crap how could I have left that for so long kind of way”. And worse. So I have spent the past 4 weeks catching up.
The period after a big race is always a tricky one. I find myself going up and down emotionally – casting about, I suppose, because the big goal is gone. One of the phases I go through is immediately trying to find a new goal. People keep suggesting them to me and I’ve said yes to an unfeasibly large amount of things which I have absolutely no realistic chance of doing. I’ve said yes to doing the half iron again next September, to various shorter distance tris, I’ve even said yes to the Chicago marathon.
What I should remember (oh the things I should tattoo on my forehead!) is that I have a habit of crowd sourcing when I’m unsure about my next direction and it’s a habit I should break. Not that listening to others is bad idea but in my case I tend to forget to listen to myself.
Because when I shut off the chatter – and FaceBook and the Internet which is often just that – what do I really feel?
- I feel that I had a great day out there doing the half iron. The best possible day. The conditions were fantastic and I just enjoyed it. Even when it hurt I was happy and proud and pleased.
- I don’t feel the need to do it again. Maybe I will someday and then I will do it again. But right now it feels like a box ticked. Something I can move on from.
- I have not been on my bike since the race. I walk past it about 30 times a day but all I think when I see it is “no”. I don’t know why – I just never enjoyed the bike rides that much and I don’t think I ever wanted to acknowledge that. I’d be all up for cycling to somewhere but a bike race? No thank you.
But the whole putting off the rest of my life bit has given me another, and a bit more disturbing, insight into myself. I have set goals before and have been training for marathons on and off for the past 7 years. I have never put off or ignored as much of the rest of my life as I did in this training cycle. I turned training for this half ironman race into a great big test of myself. In the past, when I’d miss a workout I’d feel bad, but move on. But in this training cycle it was all much bigger. If I missed a workout, it was proof that I was, somehow “not good”. Getting it right meant I was “good”. Whatever “not good” and “good” mean – I realise that I made this whole thing too much of a judgment on myself. I’ve pulled out of marathons before because of sickness or injury but I could never have pulled out of this event – that would have been a massive indictment on me. By me. And now I’ve actually realised that, I’m horrified. I’ve pulled some crazy stuff before, but this is the limit even for me.
So I’m having some stern talks with myself. I don’t believe this ridiculous pressure was somehow “because of” triathlon. I think it’s a reflection of where I am in life – my own warped version of a midlife crisis. Because I was (and am) struggling to find some direction for myself in the rest of my life this goal became it all. I had to get this right because I didn’t feel I was doing so great elsewhere. And that is ridiculous and doesn’t solve anything.
So now here I am, it’s early October and these are my goals:
- to train for London, finally get UNDER 3:45 for a marathon and BQ. If London is not my day, I will get it elsewhere. But I’m going to work very hard for this.
- I’m staying with my wonderful coach / psychologist / straight talker Mary. Having her tell me what to do takes an enormous amount of guesswork and pressure off me.
- to do something different next autumn (September, October, November). I’m thinking an ultra. I’m thinking an ultra in the US. I’m thinking 50M. So I’m crowdsourcing this one people – any recommendations? I don’t mind hills but probably should not start in the Rockies as I train at sea level. Let me have your thoughts.
- and I’m going to let myself off the hook. I’m going to see what happens to my life if I don’t push it so hard in one direction. And I’m going to listen to myself – really listen to myself. Amanda has been an inspiration with her journaling and I think it will help.
So there you have it people – the plans for 2012 / 2013. Help me stay on course!
And finally – the rewards of blogging! Maritza and I met through blogging and hearing about each other on podcasts years ago – we ran together for the first time when I visited the Bay Area in 2008 and have stayed in touch since. She visited London for work last week and I came to London to meet her – it was wonderful to connect and see her and meet her lovely boyfriend Mario.