The Big Decision

Where to begin? I might as well just blurt it out: I have decided to back out of Ironman Lake Placid. I did not come to this decision lightly or easily – far from it! In fact, this was a much harder decision than it was to sign up in the first place. I feel such a sense of relief that I know it was the right one. Deep down inside, I think I came to the realization that I didn’t want to go through with it several weeks ago; I just didn’t allow myself to consider pulling the plug. I kept catching myself feeling (and even verbalizing) that I just wanted to get it over with and I knew my heart was not in it. This is no way to approach an Ironman, and I finally recognized that I no longer had the drive or desire to get to the start line – let alone the finish line. I was afraid of letting myself down, of feeling like a quitter, of facing the judgment of myself and others. With a little bit of help from good friends, I ultimately discovered that it takes a lot of courage not to pursue a commitment this big [to myself] and it is not something to be ashamed of. I also needed to allow myself to make the right decision for me, right now, regardless of what others may think or say.

The mental hurdles I faced in coming to this conclusion were exhausting to say the least and involved more than one melt down. I am so thankful for the support network I was able to rely on who helped talk me through the decision process. I was squarely on the fence for a while before I ultimately realized that if the answer is not a resounding yes, then it is an obvious no. The tremendous relief I felt just by giving myself permission to consider this option affirmed my answer. I am a little disappointed that it didn’t work out, but I am so relieved and have zero regrets.

I’ve found myself on a difficult path this year and if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that life is too short to spend time and energy on things that are not important to me. Priorities change, plans change and this is just not going to be my Ironman year. There may come another time, or there may not. At the moment, I am ready to hang up my bike and goggles (except on a casual/fun/cross-training level) and hit the ground running – literally!

I was never able to find a groove with triathlon training and instead spent week after week trying to turn things around, coming up short and feeling like crap. I continued going through the motions even though all I wanted to do was RUN. I vocalized this to hubs and a few others, that I couldn’t wait to get back to my focus on running. Running makes feel satisfied, accomplished and most of all, happy. I’m sure IMLP would have been a very satisfying accomplishment, but it has been hanging over my head and making me miserable. I would only be going through with it at this point to earn the title of “Ironman”, which is simply not worth it to me.

So what now?

In the past couple of weeks since making the decision official, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’m excited about training again and ready for a running comeback. Tomorrow kicks off Week 1 of my newest Hubs-certified training plan for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October (which is conveniently on my Birthday this year!) and I couldn’t be happier.


“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” -Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul


24 thoughts on “The Big Decision

  1. Sounds like you made the right decision for you. From everything I”ve read of the road to Ironman, it seems like it’s hard even if you are 100% sure that’s what you want. I can’t imagine trying to get there if you are even questioning a bit. And you know I understand how you feel about running. That’s why I never venture far from it…

  2. I can only imagine how tough it was for you to make this decision. You have to do what makes you happy! You are going to rock Scotia Bank!

  3. Sounds like you made the right decision to me. The only one you have to do things for in this life is yourself. Never worry about others. I’m glad you had the support to make this decision comfortably. You are such an inspiring athlete and it’s joy to follow your path where ever that may lead! Happy running, it’ll be nice seeing you back on road race circuit 🙂

  4. Oh Marlene, don’t you worry, we understand and respect your decision. Although I will be frank and tell you that I’m still worried after reading the post that you referred to, I really hope that through the love of running you will continue being your happy and healthy self and share with us your thoughts. I do believe that it’s more important to go into an Ironman fully committed and looking forward to the journey, but it takes a lot of courage to face your true feelings instead of what others expect of you. Run on, Marlene!! Hugs.

  5. Marlene, happy to see you return to the roads – it’s another way to say listening to your body. And I hear you on making a comeback. I’m in the same place — this year I feel like I’m going to try again to regain some running mojo.

  6. Good for you for making that tough decision! I am glad to hear it has released some pressure from you and now you will be able to focus on running! 🙂

  7. You can fudge your way through a 5k run half-heartedly but there’s no way you can do that with an iron man. You’ve made the right decision and I’m glad the weight is off your shoulders.

  8. Making the decision to say no to something you thought was so full of “yes” is a huge big scary step but in the end you need to be where you want to be as oppose to where you think you should be.

    Have courage Marlene!

  9. Sounds like you made the right decision for yourself! I can totally relate to just wanting to run! I guess its a good thing that our plans to be in LP this year didn’t work out.

  10. Tough decision but a good one. I also had to make that choice with the Comrades Marathon this year. Now I am happy and motivated to train for my other goals. All the best!

  11. Brave, smart and wise decision. I have friends who have done Ironman and if you truly are not into the training, it is a brutal road. Chin up and enjoy your renewed path!

  12. Sounds 100% like the right choice for you. I am glad to see that you’ll keep running and racing and hope to end up at some events with you this year. Between your comeback and my increase in speed, we can almost run together!

  13. “it takes a lot of courage not to pursue a commitment this big” – this rang so true for me, Marlene. The fear of making tough choices can keep us in so many places that aren’t right for us – training plans, relationships, careers. Glad to hear you are happy with the decision! Happy trails (roads?)!

  14. It takes a lot of courage to make a big decision like this. Speaking from a little bit of experience, if you’re not totally committed to an Ironman race, then every workout just becomes a chore and fitness shouldn’t be about that. Glad you have a great support team. Looking forward to hearing about your come-back to running glory.

  15. I know there’s no way this decision could’ve come easy, but ultimately you and we all know it was the right one. Sending big internet hugs your way. If this year has taught you nothing, it’s that you are stronger then you know.

  16. Am sure this wasn’t an easy decision for you but since we are doing this for the fun of it, when the fun goes away we need to reaccess the situation. Good job on making a wise decision, IMLP will always be there if you know you are 100% ready for it.

  17. Sounds like you made the right decision for you. Good for you! Looking forward to following your training to the next marathon!

  18. I’ve never done triathlon, but I know with running, half the battle is having your brain & heart wrapped around your goal. So it totally sounds like you made a decision that was right for you. Running/triathlon is supposed to be fun, so it would be sad to do it if your heart wasn’t in it.

    I had to back out of a marathon some time ago because mentally I just wasn’t into it. I was finishing up a degree program along with some other more important “life” things and just knew that marathon was going to send me over….

  19. Marlene, I know that couldn’t have been an easy decision for you. I’ve had friends realize the same thing, and I certainly questioned Ironman myself last year. If your heart isn’t in it then training for it would be no fun at all. You spend so much time preparing for an IM, with so many ups and downs along the way, not to mention the highs and lows on race day. If you can’t clearly remember why you wanted to do this in the first place that is not an easy road to be on. You have to do what is right for you!

  20. Oh wow I can only imagine how tough it was to make this decision. Big hugs my friend. You are so wise to back off from doing something as monstrous as an IM if your heart is not in it. All the best with the renewed focus on your first love.

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