There it is, in black-and-white. I said it, it's out there, it's real. Just like the Ironman became "real" when I bought my plane tickets, my withdrawl is now real with that statement.
After several days of great progress, my back locked up on Friday, making is near-impossible to stand upright for most of the afternoon, and blowing any hope of a workout for the day. More importantly, I just returned from the bike portion of my "deciding" brick, and after only two hours, I can barely walk.
Now three weeks without a serious workout, and three more weeks until the race, I now accept that there is just not enough time to fully recover. I hoped against hope, and perhaps a small miracle will prevail, but I can't approach the next few weeks with that even as an option.
In the HUGE support I have gotten from everybody, it was suggested that maybe I just go and see what happens, but when I can't stand up, and a soft cough or sneeze sends my back into a spasm, that's just not a good idea. I have trouble sitting through a three-hour computer training, so a six-seven hour bike is so beyond my comprehension right now. Moreover, I discovered today that, not matter how many five-hour rides you do, a three-week layoff is a LOT of lost fitness. Even with three-times weekly treatments and moderate workouts, the recovery will take a lot longer than the three more weeks I would give it.
So it's over.
Wow, that sucks.
I totally thought I would feel some relief by making that decision, but it is quite the opposite. I don't feel good, don't feel settled or focused - I just feel bad. And bitterly disappointed. And sad in a way that actually leaves me sort of dumbfounded. And I decided that it's more than just the lost training - it was the plans, the hope, the images of the day- you need all this stuff to get through the workouts, and after a while, it becomes real, tangible, right-in-front-of-you-to-grab-it. You begin to see yourself cross that line, hug your family and friends, maybe cry (as I usually do) or maybe not, but then go home and eat pancakes and come back to Chicago with the medal to show just how far you can go. Okay, fine, it's kind of cheesy, but I got through a lot of trainer rides with those thoughts.
So it is. I am now going to turn my attention to recovery, spend a ton of time in the pool and then focus on the iron-distance race in September. It won't have the bells and whistles of an "official" Ironman, but I really just want to do the distance. 140.6 miles is just as far in the cornfields of Central Illinois as it is on the streets of Tempe. It may not have my "City of Blinding Lights" by U2 blaring as a I cross, but I'll have my screaming family and friends.
So at the fork in the road, I am choosing to continue the journey down a longer path, and hoping that this time around, I take all the lessons from the previous trip and am more watchful for the potholes. And of course, I will have to document this trip as well, so don't expect to see me sign off on this "Project" just yet. There's a whole lotta tri-ing to be done.