April 13, 2007

What should I do?

As I begin writing this post, I'm at a crossroads. There is a decision that I need to make today. Within the next 30 minutes... And I am completely on the fence about the issue, although it is a decision that has potentially huge (well, relatively, I mean, it's not like we are withdrawing troops from Iraq based on me or anything...) ramifications.

I have 2 major hang-ups. Ok, I have a lot of hang ups but there are 2 that loom over all others and tend to create trouble for me repetitively. You see, I tend to jump into a game without thinking things through. I speak and write without realizing what exactly it is that I am saying, I commit myself to things that I really don't want to be committed to, and I start things without considering whether I can finish.

The biggest example of this is my relationship with my ex-wife. We met when we were freshmen in college. The first night I met her I told my roommate I was going to marry her. It only took a few months for me to realize that we weren't exactly the most compatible, or even a reasonably compatible, couple. But I was stubborn and felt that I said I was going to do it because I said it so I couldn't stop until I did it.

And that leads me to my second big problem.

I don't finish things. I can begin a million projects and get them to near completion and then walk away. I don't know why, but I don't need the satisfaction of the final destination to enjoy the journey. My marriage, my school science projects, entrepreneurial pursuits, books I've written... I take them to the point of no return, and then I return. I don't make the final efforts to realize the potential of what I start.

That's one of the primary reasons that I jumped into endurance sports. The only true measure of success in endurance sports is finishing the activity. Yea, you can argue that you can succeed by preparing even without finishing; but, while I respect this philosophy it just doesn't work for me. When my goal was to complete a marathon in December, I wouldn't have considered myself successful if I had only done a 20 mile training run without doing the actual 26.2 mile race. I think of Ironman the same way. I can train for years but if I never do it than I will never hear the dude say "DV You are an Ironman!" and I will not be successful. Some will disagree with this definition of success in endurance sport, but that's my definition. Finishing.

So endurance sport seemed the perfect way to battle this demon, in addition to a few others that I'll save for another day.

I planned on racing Ironman Wisconsin since last fall, and I added Ironman Switzerland to my schedule around the start of January. When I added IM Switz, the selling points were that it was a fun race with some new friends in a place I've never been. Sweet!

But I really didn't consider most of the things that a logical person should have considered prior to committing to 8000 miles of round trip travel and their first attempt at one of the most epic of endurance sports events. Money for travel and expenses (I now have learned that when you travel as an age grouper to an international race, you may as well make a vacation of it and include the race as the main activity but one of several activities...), childcare for a week, the loss of close friends and family presence at the event (my family could be at Wisconsin, but not in Switzerland), the inability to hold my kids' hands as I cross the finish line, the ramped up training schedule that would push me to and beyond the limits of my limited triathlon experience body and mind - all of these things I should have considered but didn't. Typical DV... Demons...

The last few weeks I've struggled a little meeting training demands. My long swims have gotten shorter and my long bikes; well, what long bikes? I have been running more than ever, and my run performance has been my sole confidence booster.

So, with my training not going as well as I hoped, and a million other things pulling at my time, and not getting finances to work out like I thought they might, my second demon started to show its ugly head. Why am I doing this? Why don't I just wait, be patient and let IM Wisconsin be my first IM as I had planned all along? More training time, family at the race, cheaper travelling....

I had already arranged childcare for the week of IM Switzerland, so then I started thinking of what I could do with a week off with no kids in mid June. How about a kick ass training week? Sweet, I could go to the mountains visit friends and ride and run until my legs were rubber. How about volunteering at a race? Hey, IM CDA is on the same day as IM Switz, so I could travel to Idaho and get some first hand IM experience before actually competing in IM. Sounds great!

And so the last week I've been struggling with this decision. Do I go to Switzerland under less than ideal conditions, ok in my opinion maybe even piss-poor conditions, suck up the pain from training that will probably be inadequate, and make the best of it? Or do I step back and be logical and take a more patient and calculated approach while letting my demons claim victory?

See the kind of crap I get myself into???

What if I get hurt between now and Wisconsin and can't race?

What if I push too hard to try and catch up with Switzerland training and I get hurt and can't race there?

What if I meet a lifer in the mountains or in CDA?

What if I still travel west and get some mountain training this summer on a different weekend?

What if my kids don't see me in Switzerland? It's me that want them to see me race, not them that want to see me race. And they could still see me in Wisconsin.

What if I am so burnt from being undertrained/injured in Switzerland that I can't recover enough to compete in Wisconsin?

What if? What if? What if?

Well, it's time that I have to make a decision.

Do I shoot down my second demon and go to Switzerland without the family presence that is so important to me and without the most appropriate financial situation and with the probability of inadequate training?

Do I back out of Switzerland and go train in the mountains with friends and volunteer/learn at CDA for the week I would have been overseas?

In the end, it's all about the Demons. If I drop out of Zurich, they win. Again. Like they have so many other times in my 31 years. And my epitaph may as well read "DV - never finishes what he starts."

Not this time.

I will finish what I started. I will toe the line in Zurich. I will finish Ironman Switzerland. And even if it is in French (or German, or whatever the hell language they use in Switzerland), dude will say "DV, You are an Ironman" on June 24, 2007.

I will win this battle.


Bike Chick said...

So, you made your decision then? I understand about the demons and why you need to do this. Good luck. :) Do the best you can with training and have fun. That's most important. IM Switzerland will be a great experience for you if you focus on the enjoying the experience and the location and the hubbub. Plus, you can bring back some really great souveniers for the kids!

Habeela said...

I don't know what's right for you, but don't forget that stubborn streak you were talking about - don't that demon win either and cost you IM-Moo. Whatever you decide: I'm sure it will be the best!

LoneStarCrank said...

If there is one thing you are acutely aware of it is the sacrifice it takes. Whether it's IMSwiss or IMoo... it's only a few months difference. Just because you factor in money, family, training, commitment and everything else into the picture it doesn't mean you failed just because life got in the way.

You are already succeeding far beyond what it sounds like you do in 'other' areas you explained. You'll make the right decision and then nail it!

Megan said...

If the goal is to finish an IM, won't you be doing that in Madison anyway? So you would still "win" but in Madison, if you didn't do IM Switzerland. And I too value all those things, like family being there, to make it worthwhile, and I know it would not be the same if they weren't. Also, I would be concerend about being burned out or injured to the point you can't race Madison, because then no one would get to see it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that Madison seems the better option of the two and more so the more important race to you personally, in regards to all the things that matter.

ironjenny said...

Buddy, friend, fellow Zurich Ironman registrant triblogger -- I hate to see you tortured over this!
You are beating yourself up. That's not what Ironman is supposed to be about... at least not for a full time dad/ full time lifesaver-of-folks-you-don't-even-know... Whatever you decide, I will support you 150%; I believe in you at least that much. You actually are ready for IM Swiss today -- right now. Even if you only run/swim/bike a few more times between now and June 24th, you have everything.. I mean EVERYTHING it takes right now. RIGHT now.
So take the part about "being able to finish" out of the equation. Let's look at the other details:
If you want your family there - they will not be. If you don't have the spare $3000 to spend on a trip to Eupore, then accept that. It is indeed expensive and maybe a bit selfish when you have so many things that your life demands that $3000 could buy.
I can see why you are struggling with this. Maybe if you ARE struggling this much, the situation is trying to tell you that the timing isn't right.
A day has passed since you wrote this post, so maybe you have already decided. Whatever it is, at some point you WILL be an Ironman, and it will be one of the coolest things you've ever done. I will promise you that as you cross the finish line sobbing like a blithering idiot like thousands of Ironmen before you (myself inlcuded).
When the time is right, I want to be there! Oh... wait... I WILL be there - which ever one you decide to do I will be so proud of you!
p.s. I'm personally still hoping you'll do Zurich, but if not... Wisconsin will be amazing!Take care friend. You can't choose a "wrong" option.
Hugs from Minnesota...

RunBubbaRun said...

I think what the most important part for me last year at IMWI. Was crossing the finish line with my family.. It was all worth it then..

So go with your heart.

I think your first IM should be memorable. With friends or family by you cheering you on..

Good luck with your decision.

Robin said...

I'll throw in here with RunBubbaRun. The absolute best part of IMFL was crossing that line with my family beside me, and seeing them at every transition. It made such a huge difference in everything.

But I understand about the other demons too. I had to walk away from the first Ironman I ever registered for, I was too sick to make it to the start line, and that was a very, very hard decision.

Whatever you decide, I think you know deep down that you WILL be an Ironman. So you can just let that bit go and relax and pick the option that seems like it will be the best overall. Whichever it is, it will be right for you.

tri-mama said...

I agree with Jenny. Tac Boy signed up for Zurich, but we agreed after that it wasn't the right race for him-childcare and money being the driving factors. We could have made it work, but it wouldn't have been the best scenario. If you do IMmoo, you are doing something you committed to doing. IMSwiss was supposed to just be a long training day for your key race of IMmoo. Plus, most of the buddies doing Zurich will be in Madison volunteering and as a group a lot of us are doing IMCDA. So, there is another chance to sign up and do a race with the group. You only get one first IM, from my perspective having The Tribe there with me made it sweeter then sweet. Finishing without them would have stunk. either way, like Jenny said, you can't choose a bad decision.