“What’s Next?” It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a couple of months now. Trying to figure out what my “A” Race for 2017 should be was not nearly as simple as it has been in year’s past. At the end of 2014 I knew I wanted to step up to a half-iron distance race (or two), so I easily chose Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3 and Beach 2 Battleship 70.3. At the end of 2015, I knew I wanted to fulfill my Ironman dreams, so (albeit with some angst and stress) I registered for Ironman Florida for 2016.
But this year is different – and difficult! Signing up for another Ironman feels like the most normal and natural thing to do, but as I teased apart in my post on the Post-Ironman Blues, that’s not a good enough reason to put my body, my business, and my family through another Iron-year! So, I was looking for a race that would be a challenge, but not require the ridiculous time commitment of a full iron-distance race. I thought about just making 2017 the year of the sprint triathlon, but even though they are fun, I prefer long-course and I have a hard time getting myself motivated to train properly for them. I know that I could embrace it if I focused on the right things, but I’m just not feeling it. I thought about registering for one or two 70.3 races, but the ones I really WANT to race are not a good match with my calendar (IM Gulf Coast 70.3 is on the same day as our daughter’s college graduation, and IM Eagleman 70.3 and IM Augusta 70.3 are both on days when our non-profit holds races).
I hemmed and hawed… I thought about not racing at all and just plowing into our business this year – afterall, I took so much time away from it this year, it seems only fair. Then, I positively GRIEVED over the thought of not having a nice, juicy race goal on my schedule, so Deb told me I HAD to race SOMETHING! Then, one day about a month ago, I got an email marketing piece from Sommer Sports advertising the Great Floridian Triathlon on October 21, 2017. This race is marketed as the 2nd oldest full iron distance triathlon in the continental US. But it’s not just a full iron race! There are also 1/3 and 2/3 distance races on the same day.
Essentially, the GFT course in Clermont, FL is broken down into a 0.8 mile triangular swim in Lake Minneola, a 37.3 mile bike loop (described as a “hilly beast” in one review I read – yes, there ARE hills in Florida and apparently, they are ALL in Clermont!), and a 8.73 mile run course. The 1/3 distance racers make 1 loop of each… the 2/3 racers, make 2 loops, and the ultra (full-iron) racers make 3 loops.
My training buddy, Megan, had done the bike and run legs of the 1/3 distance in October on a relay team as a lead up to Ironman Florida and she said it was a tough course – a lot like this year’s modified IM Augusta 70.3. My iron-friends, Beth and Malachi, said it was very similar to the IMLOU course. The more I thought about it, the more it resonated with me. I liked the thought of the 2/3 distance! It was longer than a 70.3 ( it’s 92.6 miles) so it would still require a stout training effort. It had a very hilly bike course and I’ve never raced in hills before. And, as a bonus, Clermont is only 90 minutes from my house, so I can train on the actual course and we don’t have to travel far for the race. And let’s discuss that the registration fee was only $250 (as opposed to $380 for IM Augusta 70.3)…
I messaged Megan, who has been going through her own “What’s Next” battle, and asked “How do we feel about GFT 2/3?” We bantered a bit and she liked the idea too. So, yet another year of training together is set to commence. I am terrific-ly excited about this! I went ahead and pushed the “Register” button yesterday morning. Here we go again! T-minus 305 days to go!!!