It is the inevitable question we ask each other at the end of the season - what are you going to do next year? Certainly, it is a valuable question and when we surround ourselves with goal oriented high achievers it is reasonable that we hold each other up to a standard.
I went into my "A" race with a plan for next year. I encourage everyone that I work with to do the same. That allows us to stay on course. As a busy mom, wife, friend and woman; I have learned that if I do not claim my time something else will. When I had back surgery, I treated my rehab just like training for Ironman. As soon as I could, I would walk or build up to walking the same amount of time that I would need in training. This made coming back to the sport much easier because I did not need to carve our 2 hours or find 2 hours each week day. I just put swim bike or run in there instead of walking or rehab exercises. So I will apply the same principal to my "off season". I haven't actually had an "off season" in a few years but my body let me know in no uncertain terms that we would have one this year. So does that mean that I will fill my "2 hours' with all the things I have put off while training? If I do, I can be certain that that all my careful organization during the season will much more difficult. So my "off season" two hours a day will be dedicated to healing my body and preparing for next season. I have some muscle imbalances that can no longer be ignored. I have some feet that need some attention. Even without a structure of swim, bike and run - I have a goal. My goal is to get my body in such balance that I will be able to "burn the boot". Why such focus even on rest? Because that is what I have learned from Ironman.
I had someone say to me "Ironman is what you are". Close, but Ironman is just a race. It is just a chance to swim, bike and run for a long time. It is just a game of chase just like what we did in the pool or on the playground as kids. Yet, Ironman is about much more. It is about facing doubt or uncertainty. It is about dreaming big. It is about choosing to push up against what we think is possible and going beyond that. It is about learning that we are not our circumstances by willingly putting ourselves in really uncomfortable places and persevering. It is about asking big questions and seeking until we find the answers. If all those qualities are about Ironman - then I am Ironman because that is how I chose to live my life. That is how I will go into this period of recovery. This is how I will begin the process of beginning again. My goals are set for now and for the next year. I am in training yet again. I will learn more about myself. I will face doubts and insecurities. I will have some victories. And when the new year rolls around, I will build on this period so that I can go play on another playground.