On July 21, 2012 at 20:45, seconds after crossing the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid, I uttered my famous last words: “I will never do another full Ironman again.”
One year later, I find myself closing my Instagram app and resisting the urge to repost pictures from that very day each and every (Throwback) Thursday. The physical and emotional commitment I made to the Ironman lasted six months and up to twenty hours a week. Since my finish, I’ve found myself reflecting on that day more often than I expected to, and the question remains: should I do it again?
On the surface, I view the Ironman as the culmination of attainable individual athletic goals: a high level of competency in three disciplines, along with one’s ability to string them together in under seventeen hours. Having the Ironman on the calendar gave each workout a sense of urgency, and consistency was key. When I entered the Olympic Oval for the final steps of a six month journey, I wasn’t focused on the perfect finish line picture (well, maybe a little bit). I was proud of laying out the framework to achieve a lofty goal a year in advance, breaking it into digestible chunks, and bettering myself personally and athletically in the process.
Since my finish last July, two intriguing events have been announced: Ironman Boulder in August (I raced the Half Ironman as my first 70.3 in 2011) and Ironman Lake Tahoe in September (a manageable drive from the Bay Area). Both events fit into my tentative race calendar for next year (Wildflower Olympic in May, Vineman 70.3 in July) and would scratch my itch to improve on my first Ironman experience. Then reality sets in: do I have another 20 hours in the week, including multiple hour-long staring contests with the black line in the pool? Am I ready to sacrifice thousands of dollars towards registration, training, and feeding a hungry Ironman (not to mention his first lady)? Time will tell – specifically now until 9/23 when Ironman Lake Tahoe registration opens, but one thing’s for certain: there’s no substitute for the first high.