This is a continuation of the story of my decision not to do Steelhead 70.3.
Even before I was armed with all this new knowledge, I was thinking about what I was going to do about Steelhead. Something in my gut (pun intended) told me things just weren’t right.
I won’t lie, there were lots of tears. There was some wallowing. There was a particularly cute night during which I sobbed hysterically and asked Goose over and over again, “But why does my body want to attack itself? Why can’t it just let me have this?” I worried that giving up was like letting my ulcerative colitis win. I do not want my life to be defined by my disease. I want to kick it in the face, beat it to the ground, and show UC that it cannot defeat me.
There was plenty of guilt. My amazing coach, Elizabeth, had heard me on the radio and was training me free of charge with the stipulation that I raise money for a charity involving women in sport. I didn’t want her time and energy to go to waste. My friends and family donated to Girls on the Run – Chicago, my charity of choice, to show their support of my big goal. I felt like I was letting everyone down by not making it to the finish, or even starting line of my race.
But I dug deep. I was honest with myself. I am not an incredible athlete. Yes, I have finished marathons and triathlons, but I am a true back of the packer still navigating my way around this sport. I need a good day to make the cutoff times for long distance events. I need my body to be strong, my mental game to be 100%, and ideally, some weather in the 60s.
Given the circumstances surrounding Steelhead, there was a very small chance that I wouldn’t be flared on race day. I know my body. I know that stress triggers flare ups, and I know that I always have a tiny flare at the same time each month. This tiny flare, of course, would fall on race weekend. I also know that it is entirely unrealistic to hope for cool weather in August. In the midwest, anything can happen, but it’d be ridiculous to bank on weather in the 60s, 70s, or even low 80s.
So then I did what anyone else would do. I kept Goose up until all hours of the night, over-analyzing every aspect of the decision. I called Dad and listened; called Mom and talked.
Not one of them told me what to do. All three said they would back me 100%, no matter what I chose. They listened, and offered their perspectives. They gave me their honest opinions when I asked for them.
Then I decided. I took the opinions of my loved ones into account, reached out to my doctor and my coach, gathered up all the facts and then listened to my gut.
The truth is, I probably could push and make it to the starting line at Steelhead. If I did, I truly believe there is a 99% chance that I would be pulled from the course for not making a cutoff. To plenty of athletes I know, that 1% chance would make it worth it. They’d go out there and give it their best shot, and they might even succeed.
That’s just not me. It’s too big of a risk, and one I’m not willing to make. I don’t think my body can handle training right now. I need leisurely swims, a little elliptical time, and some easy yoga. I need strolls with Goose and the dog. I need rest and recovery. And, in due time, I’ll figure out what my new goal is.
Have you ever decided not to do a race you’d been training for? How did you make the decision?