The last year has unfortunately been eventful for me, that is…in a bad way, athletically. My 21-year running and 8-year triathlon careers are sadly over.
My story is painful, but I’ll keep it short. While out on a training bike ride a year ago, a car stopped short in front of me causing me to slam my brakes and literally go wheels up, landing on my ribs. I broke two.
Five weeks later, my ribs were feeling good. With one mile left in an Olympic Distance Tri, I crashed horribly. Fortunately, the head injury I sustained erased the events leading up to the crash, but I suffered a shattered collarbone, broken rib, fractured cheekbone, fractured wrist, and a concussion.
Four months later, after healing and gaining my strength back through physical therapy, I tore the meniscus in my left knee for the third time in five years while playing baseball. This time there was no arthroscopic surgery and pat on the behind to go get ’em. The surgeon told me there was nothing more he could do for me – other than attempt to preserve what remained of my messed up knee so I could still be active.
In short, there would be no more running and no more triathlons for me. While I was a three-time full Ironman finisher and four-time 70.3 finisher, that was not enough for me. I was still learning and improving, and hoped, at 49, to swim/bike/ride off into the sunset doing a full Ironman each year. Woman makes plans; God laughs.
Now nine months after a sentence of doom and gloom for my triathlon/running career, and after shedding tons of pity-me tears, I can now finally joke about it.
Here are 10 things I will NOT miss about triathlon:
- Chafing. No matter how much Body Glide I put on and where I put it, my sports bra always found a way to chafe me. Showering after a sweaty workout filled me with fear. Goodbye to screaming in the shower when the water hit the raw area. I am now safe, you horrible chafe.
- Sore Hoo-Ha. Though I generously applied Hoo Ha Ride Glide, as well as used a great bike saddle, invariably, towards the end of long rides, my Hoo Ha was not a happy camper. Au revoir, sore Hoo Ha!
- Wetsuit Hickeys – Regardless of how much Body Glide, Pam Spray or Aquaphor I applied to my neck, my wetsuit always found a place to plant a giant, painful abrasion, aka a hickey. Salty sweat running down my neck kindly reminded me that the hickey was there throughout the whole race. Now I can swim and splash without a wetsuit rash.
- Smelling Like Chlorine – No matter how intensely I scrubbed in the shower after swimming in the pool, chlorine still emanated from my pores. All. Day. I had to buy special products to deal with the chlorine in my hair so my hair didn’t turn green or into straw. Not feeling sad that I do not smell bad.
- Race Day Alarm Clock – I am not one of those athletes who get up early in the morning to work out. 3 a.m. wake-ups on race day are not my cup of tea. You see, my colon likes to cleanse itself first thing each day – whether I am at home or at the “race hotel.” I like to be in my own personal space, not in a porta-potty. Do I really need to explain why? Since it takes my body close to 90 minutes to get things moving in the morning, I needed to wake up at an ungodly hour and do my business before leaving for the race. And yes, there were still a few nervous poops and pees in the porta-potty in transition, but at least it wasn’t the big ‘sit down’ of the morning. Buy the farm, annoying alarm!
- Numbers, Numbers and More Numbers – Counting laps and miles according to my training plan will no longer be part of my daily existence. I can work out to stay in shape and burn some calories, but I don’t have to hit specific numbers to prepare for a race. And don’t even get me started on pace, heart rate, watts, and lap splits. Take a slumber, numbers!
- Pre-Race Trip Panics – Spring break and my wedding anniversary invariably would fall during race season. We saved to go on day trips, or away for a few days, to enjoy these occasions as a family or with my husband. I loved the trip, but wondered: will there be a pool, a place to run safely/treadmill or a stationary bike? The horror! If I missed one workout, would I become out of shape and perform poorly in the race? Of course that’s not true, but I would undoubtedly panic. No more need to be manic about my silly panic.
- Bike Shame – I can say it now: I don’t have a clue what the parts of my bike are or the difference between the different types of wheels – disc, carbon, tubular or deep dish. Oh, wait, isn’t deep dish a type of pizza? I knew how to change a flat tire, but that’s about it. I felt like an idiot when reading social media or magazines, or being in conversations about bikes and being oblivious about which parts were which. Bon voyage, Bontrager!
- Race Entry Fees – Though I totally loved racing, and it was so empowering to finish, blah blah blah, I felt guilty about spending all that money. This hobby of mine had no return on investment. Oh wait, I would get a t-shirt, a medal, and sometimes a water bottle from the race. Enuf said. Goodbye race thrills, hello dollar bills.
- First-step surprises – Wading into a lake or river at the start of a race had me worrying about what I’m stepping on or in. I would stress about stepping on jagged edges, sliding on rocks, or sinking so deep into the bottom that I would break a sweat just trying to pull my foot out. My imagination ran wild thinking about what was below the murky water. Ta-ta, gross agua!
I admittedly sigh loudly in envy at runners who I see while I’m out driving. I cringe when I see someone biking on the open road, now that I’ve got a nice case of PTSD from my crashes. While I root for my tri-friends, I’m still envious that their bodies allow them to compete in a sport that I loved. Alas, the universe was sending me a message with those two crashes so close to one another. I’ve sadly resigned myself to listen to the powers that be.
Would I do just about anything to experience those ten things I just mentioned? Hell yes! I mean, no, no, I’m totally over it. *Sigh*
Ronni Robinson is a member of the Sandwich Generation; she’s the tired lunch meat layered between two teenage children and aging parents. Ronni has been an endurance athlete for over 20 years. She is a 3-time Ironman finisher and 4-time 70.3 finisher, as well as racing in road races and shorter distance triathlons. She is a health and fitness enthusiast and looks forward to becoming a certified indoor cycling instructor soon. For more of Ronni’s writing visit here on facebook or twitter.