Hard decisions.

You may have read in the last few months (because I’ve been kind of bragging about it) about a triathlon that’s on my schedule in just a couple of weeks. I’ve completed two triathlons before, both two years ago, and I’ve been excited about the idea to add another one to my list.

But it’s not going to happen. Over the weekend, I made a heartfelt decision to cancel my participation in the event this year.

Making this decision, and writing about it right now, is pretty emotional for me. I’m not a quitter. But I feel like a quitter, and thinking about it that way is particularly galling. I suppose I could just go out there, try my best, and somehow get myself through the event. But finishing like a weakling is not my style. And I think it would take everything I have to finish this time. If I could finish.

In reality, there are a number of reasons why I’m crossing this off my list. Only part of it is that I’m not in the kind of shape I would like to be in to swim, bike, and run over two hours. Part of why I’m not in the best of shape is because of how often I was sick over the first four months of the year. It was May before I could get on a steady schedule that would keep me getting stronger up to this point.

Being busier is a reason too, but not a good one. I’m still getting used to being busier than I have in both my work and personal lives in the last ten years. That’s a good thing for me. Being involved is good. But it also means that I have less time to hit the gym, or the road.

But ultimately, it comes down to the most important factor. When you’re involved in a relationship with someone, and you commit your lives to each other, you’re saying (among other things) that when you really need me, I’m going to be there for you. I got out and rode my bike for over an hour on Saturday morning, then came home to help The Great Spousal Unit clear away debris from two large tree limbs that had fallen in our yard. It smashed a lattice wall we had constructed some years ago, and took out a bench we had sitting there too. The cleanup required us to do about five hours of work in the hot sun before making a trip to the county dump to get rid of the lattice, the bench, and a couple of other things that needed to go.

If I had finished my ride and then run for about an hour, like I had planned, it would have meant that Maureen would have been left clearing away that debris all by herself. Because by the end of that ride and run, I would have been useless for the rest of the day. And the thing is, I’ve been doing that kind of thing to her a lot this Spring. Traveling to conferences and leaving her at home. Letting her do the yard work while I went to the gym. Granted, you’re going to do some of that when you’re busy, and when you’re training for an event that requires more than just a little stretch beforehand. But I knew that it was getting to be too much for her. I also heard her the hundred times when she suggested that I should call off the triathlon this year. Partly that was out of worry for my welfare, I think; and partly that was out of concern that she wasn’t getting enough help (let alone enough attention).

So while there are probably about a dozen reasons for me to call off this event, my spouse of almost twenty years is the one that tipped the scale. If I feel better in a couple of weeks (I gave blood again on Friday morning and Saturday’s work was especially tiring), I may make a last minute decision to participate. But right now, I’ve got to come to grips with being mad as hell at myself today, then get back to my reality tomorrow. Sometimes you do things you don’t want to because it’s right for someone important, and often that someone important isn’t even you.

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  • xxlovelylizxx  On June 3, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I think that it is very noble to set this aside so that you can be there for your wife. I know in the moment you probably feel frustrated but at the end of the day you should feel awesome for recognizing that you might have been putting her to the side. Most people wouldn’t care. I hope you find peace in your decision. Take care.


  • scully  On June 3, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I commend you from the bottom of my broken pancreas because I get it.
    Especially now that I have a partner I love more than anything else on this planet.
    I have a blog post that i will (eventually) be putting out and yours right here has given me the inspiration to write it.

    I’ve quit a few events before. Not done them, chickened out or just wasn’t prepared. shit happens. Life goes on. and more importantly… there will always be more events!


    • StephenS  On June 3, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Scully, thanks for the pick me up. I’m really bummed today because I really wanted this triathlon, and actually writing that I’m not going to do it was very hard. But I’m just allowing myself today to feel bad, and tomorrow I’ll move on. Looking forward to reading your post.


  • Colleen  On June 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Finding the right balance is hard. Really hard.
    Spending more time with your wife will always make you happy!


  • Karen  On June 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Sorry you had to cancel – but I agree that it definitely sounds like it was absolutely the right decision.


  • Scott K. Johnson  On June 11, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    I’m sorry, Stephen. I’m sure this was a really hard thing for you, but it sounds like you made the right decision.


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