>As I look at the next 10 (and by 10 I mean 18) weeks of training, I start getting that “oh crap” feeling in my stomach. Not because I have 5 weekends planned of 50+ miles, or 3 weeks of 100+ miles. It’s not because of the competition that I know will be at any of my upcoming races, either. Instead, it’s because I know that in the next ten weeks I will have to put up with people offering fun weekend trips to the beach, sporadic happy hours that will surely last into the night, bachelorette parties and visits with friends I haven’t spent quality time with in years. After hearing “no, I can’t go…I’ll be running/biking/racing” a couple times a few things will happen. One, I’ll probably stop getting invited. I’ll hear the murmurs of “The fun alyssa is gone” and “The fun alyssa never comes out anymore” until I’m finally phased out of the mass texts announcing when and where the fun is to happen. I’ll get weird glances when I reply that I’m missing a friends wedding or something else that’s their once-in-a-lifetime moment for “a race.”
So why do I do it? Why do I dare ask my best friend Dani to schedule her wedding around my Ironman? Why do I RSVP ‘no’ to other important events…and not feel guilty about it? Why would I rather spend a free weekend at a race to support my friends, instead of spending that weekend with those who don’t run? What is it about what I do, that keeps me at peace with my selfish lifestyle?
I’m tempted to go with the old adage of “if you have you ask, you’ll never understand.” In many ways, that’s true. For instance, my old roommates really never will understand.
Yet in the search for a more substantial answer, I came up with the most simplistic realization. I love to compete, and I love to win. The personal satisfaction that I draw from pushing my body to the limit, and maybe – just maybe – coming out on top, is worth it. I have always known that I have a hard time feeling sympathetic for people about things that I don’t understand. For instance: allergies. I don’t get them. I don’t have them, I don’t know what it’s like, and it’s hard for me to feel bad for those who do. I think you’re making it all up. Same with people who have trouble sleeping. The only time that I ever had issues with that was because of roommates, and 2 Tylenol PMs later, boom, I’m asleep. On the other hand, the thrill of competition is something that I know well, and I value. I want to experience that as much as I can, and I want to help others experience it too – because I truly know how great it can be.
Now, I’m not completely heartless. I do wish that I could do it all. I wish that I could be at every party, every wedding, every whatever because I do care about my friends. And hopefully they know that. I also would love to be able to take true vacation time from my job, and not have to use it all for races. Maybe when I get married (gag me) I’ll rearrange my priorities and I’ll regret all the “me” time I take these days…But, maybe not.