As I write about leaving the illustrious ranks of professional triathlon I want to be clear: there were lots of great things about it and I fully appreciate what a privilege the opportunity was. I just want to relate a realistic picture of my experiences the last couple years.
The biggest reason I’m going amateur is the last few seasons as a pro I’ve made no money and had no fun. My first three pro seasons I earned a check in a pro race and made some money at local events. This was important in my mind, obviously professionals should make money. After two mediocre seasons where I hadn’t met my personal standard of earning a check in a pro race I was really questioning remaining pro. Upon further reflection, I realized not only was I not making any money, I wasn’t having any fun. If I’m not making money I should be having fun and enjoying the process. This was not happening. No money, no fun. I couldn’t see any point continuing on that path. There was no joy in it and no incentive.
The first time it crossed my mind was actually in the middle of the 2013 season. I drove alone for 12 hours to Muncie Indiana, had a terrible race and then drove straight home. This is a pretty lousy weekend and a long, long time alone in a car to stew about a poor performance. I had hoped to turn things around mentally for the 2014 season but I still didn’t find any joy or excitement out there. Ironman Arizona was the ultimate proof that I needed to make a change. I had a slow start in the swim and literally thought “eh, I don’t care”. On the bike I was riding along trying to get excited. Nope. It got even worse when I got a flat at around mile 15. That pretty much sealed the deal. I rode a second loop but couldn’t even muster the motivation to complete the bike. I just stepped off the course. I don’t see any point in repeating an experience like that where I’m essentially depressed during a race.
Racing should be fun and exciting. I want to put myself in a race situation where it is fun and exciting again. Pro or not doesn’t really matter for the majority of my races. Here in Minnesota we all just race each other. My best Ironman performance is still ahead of me. Honestly it seems more likely that I will be able to perform well in the amateur field so that is where I’m going. No sense in setting myself up to fail. I can’t go into an Ironman all messed up mentally and expect a good outcome. I will gladly give up the chance to make tens of dollars as a pro if I can have fun racing again!
To wrap up on a positive note, here are some great things I can officially confirm for 2015:
-The Best Friends Relay of Steve “Steven” Stenzel, Jeremy Reichenberger and myself will reunite this summer! We are coming back and we’re going to be better friends than ever before.
-The Peace Coffee will be flowing! If you put on a tri related event of any sort and want tasty Peace Coffee hand delivered by yours truly, IT CAN BE ARRANGED! Just send me an email email@example.com.
-I am coaching and can take on a couple more athletes for 2015. Again, just email.
I have one more post to write about retiring from being a pro regarding the shifting landscape of triathlon. After that it’s back to random stories to provide you 3-5 minutes of reading pleasure.