Title 9 2014 was a great race. It was an honor to race with the spirit of Elka Strong. She was in my thoughts and my heart every step of the way. This endeavor pales in comparison to her current challenge.
Workout: Recovery Ride
Planned Duration: 0:45
Description: Reintroduce yourself to your road bike or thank your tri bike for a wonderful season. Exceedingly easy effort throughout.
Before I started working with Coach Kelsey, the day after a race was a workout free, rest day. Now I do a recovery ride. Recovery ride = “stay in the small chain ring, spin and just get the lactic acid out of the legs”.
I was reluctant to give up my day of rest, but I’ve found that these rides do indeed improve my post-race recovery. (My coach is wicked smaht.)
I hopped on my bike for a computer free, easy spin, the day after my last race. The workout note, “thank your tri bike for a wonderful season” was my thought loop as I set out. I chose a pretty route for the morning. It had more left turns and stops than my training routes, but pretty was the goal – not fast.
I was thankful for my bike. I do love it. I’m so comfortable on it now – especially compared to the beginning of the season when I first tried the aeroposition. (I was truly petrified)
The previous day’s race replayed in my brain. It’s amazing to think that I can complete a triathlon and be out here this morning with so much ease and comfort. The progress I’ve made in the past 2 years feels awesome. I’m happy. I thoroughly enjoy the new people I’ve met and get to hang out with on race days.
I am so amazed and happy that I’d been so healthy throughout the season. I had a few niggles here and there, but nothing that didn’t heal with an extra day of rest and a foam roller. No sprained ankles or shoulder issues – just awesome.
I pedaled for 45 minutes (give or take a few). Spinning easy and smiling and looking for things to be thankful for. I spend so much time focused on what I can improve – for some future race. It felt like I great stretch for an over-used muscle.
The recovery ride is going to be a fixture in my training from now on. I’ve renamed it the gratitude cycle.
Workout: Gratitude Cycle
Planned Duration: 0:45
Description: Stay in the small chain ring, spin and just get the lactic acid out of the legs. Reflect on all that you have to be grateful for. Exceedingly easy effort throughout.
“If we don’t feel grateful with what we already have, what makes us think we will be happy with more?”
I cross the finish line; I stop my Garmin. I shuffle through the volunteers who remove the timing chip from my ankle, drape a medal around my neck, and hand me a water. I haven’t even made it through the short chute to collect hugs from my cowbell-ringing crew and I’m already in my head, analyzing the race. I look around, we’re all doing it.
It’s really more like exploratory surgery than analysis. Each leg gets dissected looking for every moment where time was lost or we could’ve pushed or where we wished we trained harder. As I meet up with other racers, I can hear them processing their races, too. We’re sorting through our missed steps and timing results. There are many expressions of disappointment for missing a time goal or being slow on a particular leg. All this processing feels more like mourning the race we wished we had, as opposed to celebrating the one we did have.
We’re so wired for improvement that we’re thinking “next race” when we haven’t finished the current one.
I remember a story that Sally Edwards shared about a Danskin Triathlon in the late 90’s. All of the swimmers were out of the water, but there was one bike left on the racks. The race volunteers were panicking as Sally went running over to the lone bike. She found the missing woman, sitting on the ground eating chocolate cake. She finished the swim and she was gonna eat some cake! She understood celebrating.
We had just finished a triathlon. There was a day in the past when we never could have done this and there will be a day in the future when it will be impossible again. We should all be celebrating this race! Even if we stumbled or stopped, we were with like-minded people pushing our bodies to all sorts of physical limits and supporting each other. Let’s celebrate that! Let’s celebrate what we did accomplish that day – whatever it was.
On Sunday, I decided to delay my analysis. I hadn’t hit my “perfect race” goal, but I didn’t want to focus on that and overshadow what I did accomplish. I told my coach there wasn’t going to be a race report for a couple of days. I didn’t want to scrutinize each leg trying to figure out why I fell short. Not on that day. I gave all that I had.I just wanted to savor my triathlife and not think so much.
I love to dissect data and analyze, at least as much as any runner or triathlete I know. (My husband will roll his eyes while he attests to this.) I’m usually squirreled into my brain for several hours processing my races. So this finish was unusual for me. I love progress and planning and training. I will eventually look at the splits for this race. I’m sure there will be an entry or two into a spreadsheet. And I have no doubt that I’ll come up with new areas of focus for future training and races, but not on “this race” day.
If I had a chocolate cake – I would have eaten it, just as smuggly as I like to imagine the woman sitting next to her bike.
Congratulations to all of us!
The Cranberry Trifest is this weekend. This is my milestone race. Like I mark my kids’ growth on the doorway on their birthdays each year, this where measure my progress as a triathlete.
Cranberry 2011 – My first-ever olympic distance sign-up.
I had a good running base from doing the Boston Marathon with Team in Training. We usually cycled a decent amount in the summer. I’d have access to a pool – I’d never swum further than a ½ mile and hadn’t done that in a decade, but I felt comfortable enough about the other two. The week before the race, I decided to rent a wetsuit. (I’d never been in one before) It was a very busy week at work, so I never got to try it out. My training was all about being able to complete each distance. Speed wasn’t a consideration, at all.
Hurricane Irene canceled the race –DNS. There was no triathlon for me in 2011, but I was hell bent on trying out the wetsuit.
Cranberry 2012 – Do-over. Same training approach: Run a lot, bike a lot, swim some.
I quickly broadcast my newbie status by racking my bike in the wrong place. And that’s when I fell in love with the triathlon scene. Two very supportive racers helped me find my (clearly marked) spot and answered all my newbie questions. They were amazing and I was so nervous. I thanked them both for being so nice. As they left for the swim, one of them turned to me, pointed to the other and said, “And just so you know, she’ll probably be on the podium today.” That moment still sticks with me. There she was helping me and treating me like a peer, the whole time.
The swim was fine. I survived being swum over by the men in the heat behind us. (I didn’t need to swim backstroke, at all.) Getting out of the wetsuit was hilarious. The bike was gorgeous. There wasn’t a picture from that day where I wasn’t smiling on my bike. I did lose all my nutrition from my pockets. The run not awful, the lead feeling in my legs was brief. My goal was to finish. I did. 2:57:58.
I was hooked. I was so fired up that I signed up for a Half Iron Man six weeks later. (That’s a different story)
Cranberry 2013 – My first “triathlon season”. I’d done 3 sprints and 1 oly that summer. I’d started swimming in April, and had joined a group of open water swimmers. I started cycling earlier, too. My nervousness was now just the pre-race anxiety that I’ve always had. I arrived and met the same two women from the previous year.
It felt like coming home. Everything went so much smoother than the previous year. I was comfortable in my wetsuit and in the water. The bike was still my weak spot, but the route is so pretty through Lakeville, that getting passed didn’t bother me. The run was hot again. I had hoped to feel stronger on the run, but held a good pace. My goal was to finish and improve my time over the previous year. I did. 2:43:03.
Cranberry 2014 – 2 days away. This will be my 3rd Olympic of the 2014 season. I haven’t raced since Lowell in July, but I’ve been working with a great coach this year and feel stronger than I ever have. My training has had lots of ups and downs around family situations, but it’s been steady. I’m excited for this weekend to see where I will measure on my door frame.
The USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance National Championships was this past weekend. My age group wave entered the water at (or about) 8:21. Last winter, with snow frozen to my eyebrows, I wouldn’t have imagined being a DNS.
Saturday morning, I rolled on to the road, earlier than my wave took off, but later than a usual Saturday ride. I wore my full race kit.
My disappointment of not going to Wisconsin had faded. But I wasn’t quite ready to rally around the thought of “next year. I just wanted to ride my bike and run in the streets, like I had trained to do on this day, somewhere else.
As soon as I finished the warm-up, I let go. No plans, no goals, no target pace (no power meter). Traffic was light and roads were clean – I swear I had a tailwind for the entire 26 mile loop. I rode by feel. I had palpable moments where I felt like my 9 year old self screaming down the huge hill on our street on my awesome huffy. (yes, banana seat & monkey bars)
At some point the thought crossed my mind that I was doing exactly what I needed to do in honor of the event. I thought about the hundreds and hundreds of athletes who would be there – racing their hearts out. I felt so impressed by the thought of them, and I felt connected to the journey, even though I was 1,000 miles east of where I’d hoped to be.
My heart felt happy – filled with the spirit of triathlon and age group competition. I love this sport. Since deciding not to go to WI, I’ve sometimes felt like all the hours and training might have been wasted. But flying along in the aerobars – free of fear and enjoying the ride – I could see how far I’d come and knew it wasn’t a waste. I was having a blast – and for me, this is the point of all of my triathlon stuff.
My leg were tired when I hopped off the bike, but I was determined to hit the first mile of the run at my dream race pace. I kept the Nationals’ athletes in my thoughts – my heart was racing with them.
Ok, here it is, as clearly as I can say it…
Nationals is in 2 weeks and I’m not going. I committed to a goal back in October, when I registered for the 2014 USA Triathlon National Championships – Olympic Distance. – and I’m not going. Ugh.
I delayed and languished over this decision for weeks and finally made it about a month ago. I just haven’t been able to declare it, clearly enough for anyone to know.
I’ve been very busy torturing myself with doubt and second guessing. “Am I just scared?” “Would I ever go?” “Should I just suck it up and go?” “Who did I think I was sharing this crazy goal?” “Am I wimping out?” “Why did I ever share this with anyone?” Ugh. “What was I thinking?” “This is why I never share my real goals out loud.” (This feels an awful lot like failure.)
Trying to avoid going back on my goal and feeling all this, I reconsider sucking it up, going, and making the best of it. I could do that. But that feels worse. I want to stay close to home now. The stress of going is definitely bigger than the stress of accepting a decision to withdraw. I know it’s the right decision for me. and my triathalife. Again, ugh.
Nationals is in 2 weeks and I’m not going…..this year…
I’m actually still very attached to my goal of competing in Nationals and wearing a Team USA uniform to World’s. I’m no less passionate about this vision than I was the first day I saw a picture of my coach in her Team USA kit, competing in London. This is a real, stubborn goal and I’m not letting go of it. I’m only letting go of my timeline.
My training over the past year has been an excellent investment. I’ve learned a ton. I ave a ton still to learn. (This is possibly the most exciting part of triathlon for me, btw.) I’m an age-grouper and I do this for fun. How I arrive at nationals, whenever that may be, is just as important to me as getting there. I want to be free of worry, fully present, and able to enjoy the experience – even more than I want the Team USA kit.
I still feel disappointed that I’m not going this year. I hope I can qualify for next year. If I don’t, I know I’ll get there someday . If nothing else I’m persistent. Some might say stubborn.