Far be it from me to complain about my awesome new job. After eight months of unemployment, the emotional roller coasters of almost-hire situations, the rejections, the stress, I am so happy to have gotten, not only a great position at a great company, but the job that I wanted, and with a team that really wanted me, specifically. Still, I worry about how work is going to affect my life differently, now with no weekends “off” to relieve pressure, but simply training and more training, early mornings, and no sleep, like, ever.
The life of someone training for an Ironman has to be akin to that of a monk in ways, as some of my family and friends will not see you until you emerge, triumphant, clutching a Vineman 140.6 medal in your quivering hands. Many people will understand, but a surprising number will not, and will kind of move on without you, writing you off as being “obsessed” with this whole training thing, not realizing that, in order to complete a feat of such proportions, a person has to be all-in. You have to fight the urge to make empty promises, to say, “Hey, I miss you. Let’s hang out next weekend, after my practice!” when you know full well that next weekend after practice you’ll be passed out on the couch after having consumed a mound of recovery food and hydration.
On the rare occasion that you do end up going out, the story is always the same, “I can only have one [insert your beverage of choice here] because I’m training tomorrow,” or, “I can’t be out late because I have to get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow.” Every time you say these things, you’re met with the same thick-lower-lip, puppy dog eyes of a disappointed buddy trying to play some kind of guilt trip. And, because of that, a lot of the time, you opt just not to get out at all.
Oh, and forget about dating if you’re single. Ha and ha. It will “just figure” that, during the time you’re training for an Ironman, you’ll meet some of the most interesting, attractive, clever and kind people, who are totally into you, and who will (of course) ask you out. Maybe you will manage one date, and then have to wait a month or so for date #2, and you know that making any kind of commitment to even a regular dating situation to this person is really unfair. However, if a person is “that” into you, he or she might still keep in touch and might still be game to get to know you after the whole Ironman thing is over. Still, it’s a lot to ask of a person, especially someone you don’t know very well. Hence, why many hardcore triathletes in training for repeated seasons stay single.
It’s funny. I find myself having this repeated urge to press “Fast Forward” to August, when training is over and I have my glorious medal, and I can see how far I’ve come, and now I have all of this free time to do anything I want with on weekends (like sleep). However, I find myself looking at every weekend and being so happy that I have such a supportive bunch of teammates, and a new challenge to test my emotional and physical strength. Sure, managing that time will be challenging, but I think that I’m for it, even if it means pressing “Pause” on other things in my life for now.