Some of you blog readers receive my family's year-in-review newsletter, and can anticipate what is coming next. For the not so lucky amongst you, surprise!
I have decided to no longer race triathlon professionally. Pretty much effective...retroactive to about 5 miles into the bike leg of my last race in September 2013.
I hesitate to say I am retiring because to me that indicates one or a combination of three things: 1) that it was a career to begin with, 2) that someone noticed you for doing it successfully and/or that someone will miss you doing it successfully, and 3) that the decision is forever. Instead it it probably more accurate to say I am making a 270 degree turn towards things I would rather do in the immediate future.
My decision precipitated from two equal factors. Other, smaller ones certainly weighed in as well, but I promised myself that this post wouldn't devolve into a diatribe on the disingenuous treatment of professionals by race production and commercial athletic companies, or the increasing likelihood of racing against dopers. Suffice it to say, I will not miss being simultaneously heralded and marginalized, or being behind before the gun even goes off.
Anyway, the first important reason is that I wasn't having much fun anymore. For example, my favorite part of my last race in Branson, MO was seeing friends who no longer live in Austin or whom I know on the circuit, catching up with them at the pro meeting and chatting with them in the parking lot after the race. I'm much more of a "trainer" than a "racer" and when the part of the weekend you are looking forward to the most isn't the race, well...
In fact, my race in Branson, MO, ended up being probably the most determinative race of all my time racing. The whole weekend was a series of giant billboards pointing to the fact that I no longer enjoyed racing and all of the intrinsic processes therein. Wanting to punch the smirk off the ticket agent’s face when she asked how I wanted to pay for flying with my bike was a good first sign. Somewhere about 5 miles into the bike it dawned on me that I really wanted to be anywhere else but there. It sounds childish and naïve because very few people have the freedom to use "having fun" as a professional determinate, but I wasn’t having much of it – and with so few rewards beyond personal enjoyment and fulfilling the intense drive to improve as an athlete, racing triathlon at least needs to be fun.
The second reason is that my brain is bored, and if I'm honest, has been for a while. Coaching and racing have provided a lot of incentives – travel, meeting interesting people, a flexible schedule, physical health, helping other athletes reach their goals - but a unique mental challenge is not among them. I need to take the ol’ neurons out of the mothballs. I will keep coaching until no one wants me to coach them; what I envision "for next" is pretty much coaching without....well, the coaching.
I came north in mid-November to again spend an extended holiday period with my parents. During my time in the Midwest I visited several universities to explore graduate programs in sports psychology, counseling, exercise physiology, and/or applied sports science. Age-group coaching requires wearing many hats, one of which is amateur sports psychologist, emphasis on amateur. I want to put the emphasis on a different word. At the very least I will put my practical experiences of the last five years to good use, and remain among “my people,” meaning jocks and apparently, former jocks who now use their brains to help current jocks.
Many thanks are of course due: my parents for supporting pretty much every hare-brained idea I come up with; Phil for simultaneously bringing me back from the hormonal brink and training me to professional standards; Lesley and Mel for being my confidants and partners in crime; and Kevin for indulging my need for regular massages and questionable gossip. The list goes on, but they represent the day-to-day team of duct tape suppliers and mental release valves.
Thank you too, to you, people who I have met along the way and/or chose to read this rag. This blog will not die. It will change direction, and probably titles, but what else does an aggressive non-adopter of Facebook use as an outlet for their trivial thoughts? Just expect a lot more about my newly earned license to perform frontal lobe lobotomies.
[In the video below, skip to 4:40.]