The Nautica Malibu international distance triathlon is less than 48 hours away. That means I have a big question to answer: to race or not to race? I have wrestled with this question over the last week. I am finding it helps to break it down into smaller questions.
Can I physically do the race? Absolutely. I’ve trained hard for this race, even if it wasn’t my goal race (the marathon was/is/who knows gah I hate stupid plantar fasciitis). My last triathlon was nine-plus months ago, which makes it feel like I’ve been training for this race FOREVER. I could have grown and popped out a baby in that time. Instead I’ve been gestating a triathlon baby. I’m serious about that — bear with me when I equate training for a race to experiencing pregnancy and birth. You’re all excited in the beginning, then you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into, then you buckle down and do the hard work of growing that baby, then it becomes all you can think about and all you want to talk about. You get more and more excited as the big day approaches. You do everything you can do to prepare, but not everything is under your control. Part of your nervousness stems from the fact that you’ve invested so much of yourself physically and emotionally over the course of several months, and you just want everything to go well. All you can do is show up ready to roll with what fate brings you on the day, the day you give birth to that much-wanted figurative-triathlon-baby. (Fine, it’s not a perfect analogy.)
The more important question is: Should I do the race? My feet still do have pain from the plantar fasciitis. I don’t feel pain when I run, so it’s not like the race itself would be torture for me. It’s the fallout I’m worried about. There’s a possibility I could tear the plantar fascia in spite of all the stretching I’ve been doing. There’s the likelihood that my feet will become more sore in the days after the race and it might set back my recovery from the injury.
Which brings me to the question: Will running this race prevent me from running the marathon, my goal race? The answer is a big fat I DON’T KNOW. It’s not clear to me that even if I didn’t do the triathlon, I would recover in time to train for and run the marathon. The marathon is eight weeks away. As optimistic as I was when I did that 2-hour aqua running session, the reality is that I will miss some of my big training runs. Over the next five weeks I’m supposed to do five long runs of 16, 12, 18, 13 and 20 miles, respectively. Exactly how many of those could I “run” in the pool? And could I really transition from the pool right back out onto solid ground for a marathon training plan? It doesn’t seem likely to me. And even if I could train and get back to actual running, would I be able to meet my marathon goals? I do have quite specific goals. My goal was never just to complete the distance (while that might be someone else’s perfectly valid and worthwhile goal, it’s not mine). I certainly don’t want to run a marathon while injured, simply to say I’ve done a marathon. There will be other races (just not this one that I carefully researched and lovingly hand-picked because it’s smaller than big city races *SOB* and it is in a beautiful setting *SOB* and we booked a gorgeous hotel in Santa Barbara because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing *SOB SOB*).
Given that I don’t know whether the triathlon would be the thing keeping me from running the marathon, I find myself asking: If I didn’t have the marathon on my race calendar, would I go ahead with the triathlon? The answer is a resounding heck yeah. I feel well enough to do it, I want to do it, and I think the risk of further injury is low enough that I can do it. Then there’s the final nagging question: Would my answers to all these questions be any different if I weren’t doing this all in a public blog forum for everyone (my growing handful of readers LOL) to see? I don’t think so. If anything I’m slightly worried that I’ll do the triathlon, get more injured or stay injured and not recover, and the blogosphere will hit me with a big I TOLD YOU SO. It couldn’t be anything worse than I will be telling myself, though.
Well, wish me luck, tell me I’m crazy, hope that the crazy pays off for me. Hmm, that’s one final question. What’s the payoff? Who cares if I skip this race? (Yes, yes, that’s two questions). I care. If I don’t get to do the marathon (right now) then I want to do this race. I don’t want to have to give up everything to plantar fasciitis. I want to go see this year’s version of this:
Those are my answers today. I can’t tell you I’ll stick to them. We’ll see what happens on race day.