2018 and 2019 have been reduced race years for me. Significantly reduced. And that's okay.
I am someone who actually checks weather predictions and forecasts for upcoming years. Between crazy schedules at home, work, life and everything in between, I made the decision to rest for most of 2018 and part of 2019. My guesses/hunches were right.
Right now, there's six inches of snow falling. I would have not made it safely to a race I normally would have attended or paced. Last weekend, I would have been stuck in Florida and missed work due to flight cancellations. I've lucked out tremendously cutting back on my schedule at the right time.
I have done the crazy racing schedules, and I have been incredibly fortunate where either everything went right or whatever went wrong was easily fixed. I've done back-to-back cross-country weekend flights; close connections; seven-hour drives in between events; last minute schedule adjustments; and finding out where I was staying the week before. I've done the Half Fanatics 10 Moons/Sun challenge three times- 52 half marathons in 365 days. I did it twice on purpose and once by accident. I have been incredibly lucky that I have had no catastrophic failures.
I've also DNFed, DNSed, or looked outside the window and said "not today." At the end of the day, your health comes first. Failure in a race is teaching you a lesson. Sometimes failing is the way you learn. It's all good- learn and move on. There is no such thing as perfection.
If you have never had to miss or drop out of a race, or never had one cancelled on you, you're statistically in less then one percent of the racing population. I'm convinced these things are inevitable, and the faster they happen to you, the better off you'll be at dealing with it and moving on. Use the lessons you learn from failure and rest in racing to other areas of life- relationships, your job/career, weight loss, whatever is going on with you (or to you).
I've done most of the "bucket list" races I've wanted to do- Run Disney events, La Jolla, Key West, New York City Marathon. I've gotten to visit places I never would have had it not been for a race (Sedona, San Diego, Avenue of the Giants). There is more on my list, and there will be more coming- I just don't know what they are yet. Hawaii is on the top of the list, and the added bonus of waiting is by the time I pick an event, Southwest Airlines will be an option for travel.
Rest years are needed. In the long term, our crazy schedules are possible but not sustainable every single year. The body (and your wallet and airline miles) need to recover and replenish. Time off gives me time to fall back in love with the sport when things were starting to head into a "meh" relationship. A number of great (and not so great) events I did don't exist anymore. The sport is changing too- and in a good way. The best race directors will innovate and remain the best. New awesome courses and races will come that we didn't even imagine ten years ago. Just look at the Vacation Races National Parks series. They are on my radar. Look at how Mainly Marathons has grown. Years ago people would have told the race organizers that they were crazy or stupid. Those who succeed ignore the naysayers and critics telling them it can't be done.
In business, companies that grow too big too fast without stepping back to study themselves will outstretch themselves and their employees, and often collapse. Your car will break down if you don't do routine maintenance. So will you.
I use the time off from racing to plan and re-examine my goals. I'm not chasing stats or levels anymore. I have no interest in awards, age groups or plaques. I've accomplished most of what I want to accomplish. My focus will be on new places and new races while also returning to old favorites. And I live by my race finishing motto- "Have fun and don't die."
During this rest time, I get to figure out new goals; research new (to me) events to do and places to visit; and figure out what to do with the rest of the time my body and feet have to hit the pavement. I get to examine what I didn't like (trail races- I can fall down at home for free) and what I do like (California, Florida, Disney).
I look forward to going back to certain courses with a certain loss of memory of some of the surprises, turns, and hills. I look forward to pacing again and telling a whole new group of athletes horrible jokes for hours. I look forward to the satisfaction of the finish line again. For now, rest and strategic planning is the best decision.
I've also gotten to spectate. If you ran the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon and you saw someone with a spectator sign outside of Wide World of Sports that said "Is this the line for Avatar Flight of Passage"- that was me. And cheering for hours was an absolute blast.
If you are feeling burnout in anything, especially in road racing, make sure you are getting rest. We cannot do it all, and we will not get it all done. There will always be something new- a new race to challenge, a new personal goal, a new wish list. Take the rest time to figure out what that is. Stop and re-evaluate what you don't want and what you do. Sometimes you have to wind up doing or trying something to figure out what you don't want, and that's okay. Sometimes you're surprised and learn about something you will love by trying it. It's okay to lose interest in something and need to take time off from it to get your interest, love and appreciation back.
In the meantime, I'm banking up my Southwest Rapid Rewards Points, putting more cash into my "fun" accounts, and thinking ahead with excited anticipation of seeing old and new friends again in a corral soon.