Sunday, November 1, 2009

With Apologies...

It is now a little less than 12 months ago that I left the sport of triathlon, as an elite. After DNFing with a bad virus at Ironman Arizona, feeling like I wasted months of preparation, I promised myself not to race in 2009, just so I could relieve some family stress, and actually bring in an income. I turned my focus to writing and coaching.

When I left teaching in 2005, it was because I loved the sport. I had sold my condo, and didn’t really have money worries. I never gave money a thought, I just knew that I loved training and racing. I had dreams to make the sport my life, and even though I left racing, I have shown that I have accomplished that. If you’ve picked up the November-December issue of Inside Triathlon magazine, then you might have read my column on the back page, “Asking Why”. It explains a lot of why I left the sport. It also explains how happy I am in my life, despite leaving racing.

There’s no question I miss racing. I never not-missed the racing, I’m too competitive of a person for that. What I had to ask myself was, is it worth it for the day in, day out grind of preparing to race? The saying, “The will to win is nothing compared to the will to prepare to win” is certainly the case. The mental and emotional demands of racing at such a high level take their toll, especially when doing your best means so much to you.

This past year off has done a lot for my perspective on training, life, racing and even what’s really important to me. My life was so out of balance. I had so much more to my life than racing, but I let my results control my happiness, rather than just let it be a supplemental aspect of my life.

At times, it was easy to get carried away with thinking I would just come back. At Ironman Wisconsin, I saw some things out on the run course, especially near the finish, which nearly brought me to tears. At Kona, I was in tears the morning of the race. I held back though, realizing those moments weren’t the key to a decision, it would be everyday after that moment which would really tell me how much I wanted to return to racing.

So many days I’ve enjoyed the fact that I don’t have to get on the bike and put in HOURS and HOURS on it. So many times I’ve enjoyed knowing that my biggest responsibilities to the day are just to my clients and what I want to do to advance the sport as a coach and writer.

Of course, there came a point where I hit 203 pounds on the scale, and I realized that was too much. That was 42 lbs more than my lightest from October last year, of 161. Suddenly, my self-esteem was starting to be affected, and just like earlier, I was out of balance again. I started running again, and dropped to 194 consistently. And even today I woke up at 192.

I began to realize racing gave me structure to my day, to my life, to my schedule, to my priorities. Not to mention satisfaction.

So after much deliberation, conversations with Orlanda, sponsor searching, and coach searching, I have made a decision. I will return to racing in 2010. With apologies to LL Cool J, don’t call it a comeback. This is not a comeback in a traditional sense. I call it more of a “rebirth” in the sport.

My year off has done a lot to teach me how to be a better athlete. It’s given me better perspective, and a level head. It’s recharged me, and helped my family. It is with this as my big advantage that I will be “reborn” in the sport and racing. I will not be racing for money. I will not choose my races based on prize money. I will not choose my goals based on what will bring the most income. I will instead race for love of the sport. I will not focus on series, or on what others think I should do. I will choose to race based on what brings me the satisfaction I want at the end of the day.

I refuse to make the same mistakes I made from 2005-2008, which drove me out of the sport. Instead, I will be smarter and use my biggest strengths more advantageously. I will surround myself with positive people. I will not chase sponsorships and waste my energy on that stuff. I will simply work with those who want to be a part of the great things I have going on, (my racing, TriJuniors, my coaching, etc).

So ironically, in the month I write in Inside Triathlon magazine how I left the sport, I announce my return. I am happy about this, because there is still plenty I feel I have left to accomplish in the sport.

On Monday, November 2nd, I begin training officially under my new coach. Who is my new coach? I will divulge that in my next post, and why I chose him. I will also discuss my race schedule, and what sponsors are currently on board with me.

Stay tuned…



Labala said...

VANCE!!! I am really happy to read this post! Its great to read that your are comming back to racing.

I agree with what you say, whenever this feels like a job then it will not be fun. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy every part of this lifestyle.

I hope you can find a spot in your schedule to come back down and claim the Portobelo Crown! It wonte be easy ;)

Chris said...

Congratulations and best of luck Jim. You're one of the good guys, can't wait to see you out there tearing it up!

ramon said...

Its good to see you back in the saddle coach!! Looking forward to hearing about future endeavors in racing!! Awesome dude!!

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Big exciting news Coach Vance! We hope to run into you at tri event or speaking venue again in the coming years. Enjoy the transition!

Rich Cruse said...

Welcome Back Jim!

D a v e P said...

Jim, very cool to read about your decision for next year.
If I don't exercise I don't feel good and I need that structure you talk about in order to stay healthy, in general.
Best of luck out there!

Zippy said...

Welcome back! Sounds like you're racing for the right reasons this time around. I'm excited to see you fly!

jameson said...

rad. i'll let you suck my wheel all over san diego as soon as you get back on the bike! haha...

stoked for you dude. a year off was probably one of the best things you could have done for your body and mind.

but why triathlon... lets just race bikes!