Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Accomplishing goals is a bad thing?

I had a revelation the other day. I must have been running or biking at the time and must have been near the end of this run or ride, because something hit me, and it hit me hard.

I, without meaning to, sandbagged the last bit of Ironman Lake Placid.


Now, A) I was sick and could barely run, B) My legs were shot and could barely run, but C) I mentally didn't want it to end.

Let me repeat this:

I mentally did not want it to end.

While! I wanted it to end so badly because A) I was sick and could barely run, and B) My legs were shot and I could barely run.

Am I confusing you yet? I will simplify it a bit further for you:

I built that race, more specifically the Ironman distance, as this holy of all holy things, that once completed, a HUGE life goal was done for. I could never accomplish it for the first time ever again.

(disclaimer - while completing it was a big deal for me personally, it is NOT the end all of things for me. That race does not define me nor does the distance)

Basically I was finding more joy in having the goal of competing in an Ironman and training for an Ironman than actually completing the race. I am more interested in the process rather than the result. Just getting to the start line was my satisfaction. Finishing it was merely a formality. I thank my coach for prepping me properly for that!

But why didn't this ever happen with other races leading up to Lake Placid? Because those races were merely stepping stones to completing my first Ironman.

Call me a headcase if you want, but holy shit I am glad I am recognizing this now. I am looking at other parts of my life and it totally makes sense. Take for example my apartment. There is always something in my apartment that is cluttered and needs to be cleaned. I could totally spend one single day and actually finish it off. Instead I have slowly been plugging away at it for 5.5 years. Why am I stringing it along for so long? Because what the fuck am I going to do once it is finally cleaned, decluttered, and organized? It's become this sick sick game of dangling a carrot in front of me.

Am I afraid of running out of goals?

I am a VERY goal oriented person. Without one in front of me I go flat, get bored, and start to get VERY antsy. This is true with life, triathlon, and work. For some reason my brain is hard wired in such a way that once one major major thing in my life is done and over with, it either can't be repeated or bested without this HUGE sense of dread.

I recall one summer in Provence where I did this AMAZING 4 hour ride through the countryside where I was seeing mountains, abbeys, lavender fields, and these crazy looking fountains and streams all in ONE ride! I went into this funk later that day because to top that would require something...dare I say...epic? (I did climb Mt Ventoux that summer, so I DID in fact top it. Literally! 6K feet anyone?)

I think I decided I took in too much at once and just overwhelmed myself. Its kind of like devouring an amazing steak in 3-4 bites rather than savoring its flavor.

I guess this is why I am happy that I waited until my 4th season to finally tackle the Ironman distance. My curve of exposure to the sport didn't spike so quickly that the falloff of interest was just as fast.

Now that I have "been there done that" with all distances of this sport (again, any tri longer than an Ironman is OUT of the question!) I guess its refocusing on my goals. GET FASTER!... and this is probably why I am happy I made that bet with myself to PR every distance I enter this season. Its another goal built upon other goals.

Moving forward - I don't see Mont Tremblant as this big huge deal in comparison to Placid. Yes, its my triathlon season ender and A+++ race of the year, but all I want do is better my Placid time. I think doing that will give me a greater satisfaction (and motivation) than finishing Placid.

Am I crazy? Weeeelllllll, depends on how you view me ;)

I also can't get Lake Placid out of my head. Maybe I am just looking forward to my coach's training camp in June. 2013 anyone?


  1. Yup. Exactly how I felt. Made such a big deal about Ironman distance that I was majorly let down when I finished. If you expect a rush of emotion and crap when you finish ... well you will just get the crap for about 2 hrs, primarily gatorade and oreos or whatever you pounded during the run :)

  2. I think you've got some really good insight on yourself there. Obviously you love the process of getting to the goal, and that is why you keep giving yourself goals. It also says that you can enjoy the process rather than dreading it. Good for you. After IMMT, there'll be something else. Keep looking forward!

  3. I have always enjoyed the process of everything I do more than the actual event. I guess I am just to OCD!

  4. You know you want to do the 3x ironman :)

  5. I have a theory that people who are only focused on results get burned out much quicker than those who are focused on the process. You're not always going to get the results you want, and if that's all you're in it for you'll eventually begin to wonder if you're wasting your time. But if it's the process you love, and the goal chasing, this could be a life-long journey because triathlon is a lot like golf - you can get pretty good at it but you can never truly master it.

  6. Not a headcase at all. Perfectly normal response though the majority of people fail to recognize why.

  7. Wait, I'm confused. The sweetheart aquatic tri was your A+++++++++++++++ race for 2012.

  8. Time to go to Europe and ride the TdF course????

  9. But see, maybe things like this just don't have an end point. I mean, I'm the same way about our house only it goes on forever because there's always something new needing to be cleaned, updated, etc., not that I'm doing it slowly. I think it's the same with endurance sports. You hit one goal and there's always another.

  10. Excellent insight, Jon. That sounds a lot like me, as well. I just finished my first half-marathon on 3/18, and have been wallowing a bit while I try to nail down some future running and fitness goals (and also de-clutter my living space, and complete some job training...). Thanks for putting it into words for others to see and recognize!


  11. I think I found my first marathon so enjoyable because it was all about seeing if I could actually complete the distance. Now that I run them to try to get faster, there's a lot more stress (all self-generated, of course). I imagine that I would feel the same way about an Ironman.

  12. Cannot believe you dropped the "E" word? WTF dude? W.T.F.

    Soooo what is on the docket for 2013? I have some ideas but that is all at this point.

  13. Funny, I'm a little the opposite - nothing I like more than crossing a goal off the list! If anything, I don't take enough time to enjoy the process of accomplishing the goal.

    It's great that you are self-aware enough to recognize it though!

  14. It was interesting last season to watch everyone tackle their first iron distance race, all were pretty much in the same boat afterwards, while it was a great accomplishment, the next day, you still have to put your pants on one leg at a time, basically, you were all proud to done the race, but it didnt change your life in some life altering way, this helps me with my mind set when I decide to tackle the distance some year

  15. yup, I felt the exact same way. I was sad to finish the swim, even though I was cooking in the piss warm wetsuit like never before. All I could think about was "this is it, this is MY Ironman swim. My first one, the small moment in time that I've invested so much of myself into.. and it's almost over :( "

    I predicted this ahead of time as it's a common mistake noobs make.
    Have a post-race plan. The 'training plan' doesn't just finish at the big race, you need to know how your recovery will looks. Not just physically or mentally, but big picture recovery. Time with family, vacation, Mcdonalds, Beers, Pizza, maybe a risky adventure like a mountain bike race or rock climbing. All the things you avoided during training, now is the time to do them!

    Then search out the next big goal. I already had a good idea what mine would be.
    Like you I need goals to focus in on. Make an attack plan and execute it. The goals have gotten bigger and crazier but my real fear in the back of my mind is will there be a day when there is no next-level for me. Will I run out of goals? Will I run out of steam or lose the ability? Maybe the goals dont always have to be epic, but could I be happy with just that? I don't know... but I wonder if that day will ever come.

  16. If you're crazy, then I'm your nuthouse neighbor! I couldn't have said it better myself! All my 'short' races that I have planned this year don't seem like such a big deal compared to LP but, they're still goals. I kinda feel sad that I *only* have mini triathlon goals for myself, because the first ironman experience is such a gift. But now, it's kinda exciting because it's very different than 2011, and less time sbr'ing means more time for other activities/vacations I couldn't do last year. And for 2013??? If you twisted my arm (just a little) I may be IN. :)


Don't be shy! Leave me a comment!