About a week ago I posted that I was torn between my head and my heart when it came to my participation in the UK Paratriathlon Nationals this Saturday. As I attended the BTF paratriathlon day in the autumn of 2010, I have a 50% discount for entry. And with paratriathlon’s acceptance as a paralympic sport, 2011 is a big year for celebrations and Nationals, I am sure, will be an amazing testament to all that has been achieved.
But 2011 is not the year for me.
I laid out the pros and cons in this post. I guess the biggest pro is that I had so much fun in my first triathlon of 2011, so would like to do more, now, to have more fun.
But the biggest con is related to my health. I *know* after spending the last 10 years travelling extensively and globally for my job that I will experience a lot of fatigue coming off a long haul overnight flight. I don’t arrive back into London until Saturday morning, the same day as Nationals. On the back of spending a whirlwind 36 hours in Hong Kong. When I am tired after long flights, crazy stuff happens. I fell over and dislocated my elbow in 2007 after an overnight flight back from Abuja. A nearly crippling experience were it not for a talented surgeon. I contracted a lung virus in January which hung around for 2 months earlier this year, because my immune system was down from the flights to and from Beijing.
When I mentioned to DH doing Nationals after I arrived on Saturday, he looked at me and said “are you crazy?” – well, he knows I am a bit crazy and like to push myself to the edge… So I continued to think about participating.
When I tweeted the link to my post last week, my friend Andi reminded me that if something happened that would ruin the rest of my summer and my big goals for the year, that I would regret my choice to race when fatigued. Now, Andi knows me pretty well. She has been on the receiving end of some chats when things were pretty tough for me in 2008… And she knows that I value achieving my goals and not risking my ability to succeed.
A lot of people weighed in – would I have regrets? Would I feel left out? Racing after a flight is silly. Racing after a flight is fine. Don’t do it. Do it. Look at the bigger picture.
I knew I had to make up my own mind. And I had. But I wanted to consult one last person – my Coach.
I saw my coach on Tuesday night, after our club cold water swim session. Well, kinda cold water. It was 19C and we were in wetsuits, but I digress. Coach T recalled that last year Gemma, a brilliant athlete he coaches (who I also know and swim with occassionally) did a race right off a long haul flight last year. She had a horrible race. Hated every moment of it.
Yeah. Hate is not something I need in my life. And I do not want to hate triathlon.
Then Coach T gave me a simple rule of thumb, which mirrors my own experiences with fatigue and performance (although my performance experience with this really comes from my professional life)…
“You need a clear 48 hours after a long haul flight before you race.”
So, I’m not doing the 2011 British Paratriathlon Nationals.
I am not risking my Great Chesapeake Bay Swim on 12 June.
I am not risking my love of triathlon.
I am not risking injury.
I have no regrets about my decision. If I decide that Nationals are something I would like to target, I can aim for and train for them in future years. I do not see them as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” as my participation in triathlon is for life, not just one season.
So on Saturday, when I get off the flight, I will be going swimming with my Coach and club, followed by coffee with Coach T to review my schedule, training and how I’m doing. Then I will enjoy a super lunch with DH and two friends of ours who will be doing Ironman Lanzarote. And I will raise a glass to all the paratriathlete’s giving it their all at the Nottingham National Sports Center – I hope you have an awesome race, and as much fun as I do when I TRI!