Earlier this month I made the decision to withdraw my entry from Ironman Whistler. The July 11 deadline, if I wanted a $150 refund, helped me make up my mind.
It was both a hard and an easy decision to make. Hard as I registered for the race in October last year with the intent of competing. As a former triathlete and five-time Ironman finisher, I could simply not resist an Ironman that landed in my backyard, one offering 100 qualifying slots for the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
This year, only one other race (IM Frankfurt held earlier this month) offered that many slots, according to RunTri.com. Every triathlete competing in an Ironman wants to go to Kona, even retired triathletes like me. I am a far better athlete now than when I did my last Ironman in March 2005.
Yet by late April, the reality was that my injury (mysterious heel pain that had curtailed my running for nearly a year by then) had not disappeared. A 15-minute run was all it took for the pain to return. So I stopped running again.
Cycling, especially riding on the Computrainer in the aero position, was not helping, I realized. It only served to increase the tightness and imbalance that I now suspected was the cause of my problem. I stopped cycling too. The last ride I did was on April 21, the day before I discovered that my body still could not cope with a 15-minute jog.
Unfortunately, the bike ride is a little crucial in Ironman -- it takes up more than half the time any athlete needs to finish (unless you ride so hard that your run will take you longer than your bike did, not uncommon). Not having cycled from March 2005 until October 2012 meant I could not rely on a fitness base there either.
While still hopeful in late April, I was already well aware that my chances of getting ready for an Ironman in August were very slim. I did not run again until June 4, starting with two 5-minute stretches. By July 11 -- the deadline to receive a partial refund -- my longest run had been 40 minutes.
I have consistently spent at least 10 hours a week on yoga, stretching, massage and rolling for the past three months.
When I realized that I was not even sure if I would be ready to run (not race, just run) the local annual 10km on August 4, I also realized that doing an Ironman three weeks later was just not a good idea. Indeed it was unrealistic. That made the decision easy.
There will always be another Ironman, should I want to do one. And after the past year, a healthy body is worth more to me than any race, even one with a hundred Kona slots.