On a break

I’ve been on a break from triathlon for a while. It started as a self-imposed break to give my body a bit of a break after training for two ironmans in two years following some pretty intensive surgery (feel free to catch up on that whole deal here). But this spring it became more of a medically necessary break after the discovery of a tear in my meniscus. It’s been hard to sit on the sidelines as so much of my life for the past couple of years has revolved around the combination of swimming, biking and running…but guess what?! I am ok.

Taking a break is quite counter to the lifestyle of triathlon. We are conditioned to keep going, to get everything we can, to not let something come between ourselves and our goals. Sneak a peek into any triathlon related facebook group and you will see posts about people who overcame pretty big obstacles to get to the finish line–addiction, broken bones, even cancer. It’s truly amazing! Ironman uses the phrase “anything is possible” in their marketing campaigns for a reason, because over and over triathletes prove that it’s true. Living in this world makes it more difficult to know when it’s time to slow down or take a break.

My last true run was over Easter break. I had seen the orthopedic oncology surgeon the day before and he had given me a glimpse into the news that it might be time for me to take some time off but I wasn’t ready to accept it. I had signed up for a 10K for the following day and I was going to finish it no matter what kind of pain I was in because remember “anything is possible.” And I did finish but it did hurt. It was then that I started to struggle with what I knew I needed to do and what I wanted to do. I wanted to be back out with my people as I missed the camaraderie of rides and runs and open water swims, but I knew my body needed some time to heal.

After some soul searching and facing the amazing reality that I have some other pretty cool things to be excited about this year, I gave myself permission to let go. I told my coach that I was stopping and didn’t need any more workouts. I told myself that I would do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I slept in. I went to the dog park with my sweet Annie. And I’m ok. Letting go of the idea of training and racing this year has been so freeing. Don’t get me wrong, there are things I still miss, but for me, the good of taking a break outweighs all that. And it’s been a good reminder that there is life outside of triathlon–that while triathlon is one of the things I do, it’s not who I am.

Now this break won’t last forever, as I am already making plans for next year (of course) but for this year, I am going to focus on rest, rehab and enjoying the heck out of the opportunities before me. Last month I got to go on a trip to Ghana (in West Africa) and next month I will be sailing in the Mediterranean for a week, so this summer I’ll be collecting stamps in my passport instead of finisher medals.