I will readily admit that it has been tough to put the figurative "pen to paper" on this blog post. It is not because I am not excited about the coming year. Quite the opposite in fact. However, 2011 will bring with it some significant changes in my life, a couple of which, give my heart strings some powerful tugs.
As most of you who read this blog know, I have been a practicing attorney for the entirety of my "triathlon career" such as it has been. For the most part, working full time while training was a fairly manageable task. However, with my move up to the professional ranks last year, came the realization that I just can't continue to try and do both if I want to attain the level of performance to which I aspire in triathlon. In my eyes, my options were to make a change or remain a mediocre pro. After some consultation with some close friends whose advice I truly valued and appreciated, I made the decision to leave the legal profession, at least temporarily, to train and race full time in 2011. While I am not quite "old," and certainly not in race years, there is a limited window in which I have to operate, so I must take the chance while I can.
Financial considerations aside, this was not an easy decision. For the past 4 years I have been fortunate enough to work alongside my Dad. Spending many hours a day with my Pops was a gift, and was the one thing that really gave me pause about this decision. I am sure to miss it.
To be honest I made the decision to go full time several weeks ago. The decision re the other BIG change for 2011 however, was not made until shortly before Ironman Arizona. That decision has me parting ways with someone who has been instrumental in getting me to where I am today in this sport. He has been a great friend, a confidant, a brother/father figure and above all, an incredible coach. Leaving the Dirkinator crew was definitely a tough decision. I cannot possibly thank Dirk and his family enough for all they have done for me. I know we will remain in close contact, but not being under his tutelage and watchful eye, will be a big change for me.
I am 100% confident that Dirk could have gotten me to where I want to be in this sport. The reason I chose to part ways is that I was presented with an opportunity to be part of something I believe will also lead to me reaching those goals, and will add some incredible experiences along the way. I was lucky enough to be selected to join a group of professional triathletes that will be forming a North American based training squad under the guidance and coaching of Paulo Sousa. I believe that the group training aspect of this squad will add that extra element to my training and joining the squad represents a full blown commitment to the sport. As they say, "Go big or go home." I will be leaving for my first training camp in Las Cruces, New Mexico in the beginning of January and will likely not return to LA until the middle of March after the second training camp in Tucson, AZ. To say that I am excited would be a drastic understatement. I'm chomping at the bit!
Aside from the benefits of giving me time to train, rest, recover and sleep properly, leaving the law biz will also allow me to engage in something I have found to enjoy greatly. Just after CA 70.3 last season a friend of mine talked to me about his disappointment with his race. After some thinking, we decided that I would help him with his training plan for the short run up to Wildflower, and see how things went. He had a great race and we decided that I would coach him all the way to his first Ironman attempt at Arizona. Throughout the months I found the process to be extremely enjoyable and rewarding. Then it was race day, and I was going to share the course with my friend I had coached to that day. I'm happy to report that he went 9:47, won his age group and got his Kona slot. All in his first attempt at the Iron distance. I was stoked. Given my new found appreciation for coaching, and the time I will have to do it, I have decided to coach a limited number of serious athletes in 2011. So if you are interested, or know anyone that would be, please have them contact me through my website at www.ianmikelsonracing.com
2010 was an incredible year. I am hoping that 2011, with these big changes, will be even better.