Sunday, July 14, 2013

From Good to Great

As I write this, I'm tired.
The kind of tired that follows long days of training. My last day off was the 8th. I've been hitting my threshold workouts pretty well (if I do say so myself). My longer workouts have been going extremely well (even on tired legs). My swim pacing is finally coming together.

Don't think that my lack of energy, today, equals a lack of enthusiasm because I can assure you that my enthusiasm is at an all time high.

My last few workouts have been on my own. My normal training group was doing a century yesterday, so I've had a lot of time to think. 

In my last post, I laid out some goals. I said they were random and didn't really go together. I'm starting to see how they do align.

I was swimming yesterday.

I can already tell. I'm going to be all over the place. I've already been interrupted 3 times while writing this. I apologize in advance for the lack of flow.

During my swim, I was thinking about my goals. To me, those goals put me in the "great" category. Obviously, they aren't great to everyone, but that's why goals are based on each individual.

When I started in triathlon, I was bad. I really hate to use the word "bad" because if you're lining to race, you can't call yourself bad. I was happy to be out there, but I saw myself as "bad".

I wanted to be "better", but I had no idea what that meant. Other than the times that I have regular life stresses that get in the way, I work really hard. I like to think I do anyway.

Over the years, I moved from last to bottom 10% to middle bottom to absolute definite middle of the packer to where I am now.

Now, I see myself as a "good" triathlete. The goals that I listed, to me, get me to great. Not that I'd run around saying "Oh, yea. I'm totally great at tri's".  Those are the paces, times, etc that "I" see as fast for me.

Truth be told, these goals have changed over the years. I hope that they continue to change as I hit each one. I know that I'm getting older. I know that at some point I'll start to plateau or slow down, but until that time, I'm going to keep going.

In a couple of weeks, I have one of my favorite races. It's my favorite because the venue is amazing. It's extremely spectator friendly. It is so well organized. It really is a great race. The distances are little quirky. The swim is 800m. The bike is 20 miles, and the run is a 10k: not really an oly, not really a sprint. (The bike is hilly, which is my favorite type of course). The run is a little challenging in there are a number of turns, one fairly tough hill and then a straight away that runs along the main highway. That part is flat but it's little warm running on the asphalt. (Two loops of that).

Last year, I did it on a whim. I had a coupon to do the race for half price (which came to about $30). You can't do a tri for $30! So, I jumped at it knowing that it was going to push me a bit with the distances.

I ended up having a GREAT race, surprising myself.

This race was the MAIN reason that I wanted to move to Olys this year. During the race, I kept thinking "if the bike could have been just a little longer", I would have caught those women who were ahead of me. At the time, my run was "ok", but the more time I could get ahead of everyone else, the better I'd end up.

THAT was my logic last year.

I've changed a lot this year. Most of it has been mental. Here's where I think I've improved:
1.) I'm 10 lbs lighter than I was at this time last year.

2.) My diet has been excellent, from daily nutrition to training fueling. This is the best that my diet has been since I started triathlon.

3.) I've become WAY more competitive. I confess. That part has always been there. I've just started showing it and giving zero f*cks about what anyone thinks about it.

4.) New mindset.  This is worthy of a blogpost all its own. I'll just "sum up". There is a huge mind set change that goes along with moving from the back of the pack to the front. In fact, your body makes those jumps a lot faster than the mind. At least, mine did. I always say it's like someone who has lost a lot of weight. They still see themselves as the "fat person". They have a hard time buying small clothes, etc. This is exactly what happened to me. For awhile, I was getting faster on the swim and bike (and run too, but I was SO far behind everyone else), and I felt really good about it. Races were different, though. As soon as someone passed me on the run, I started to give up. I knew it was happening. I would start to get discourage. I'd walk away with a PR, but it was hard to deal with being caught and passed by A LOT of women in my AG....or older.

I'd justify by saying "It was good enough for a PR."

Well, the gap is closing now. My swim/bike has gotten so strong that my lead on the run is getting difficult to close...especially since I'm (also) getting faster on the run. If I want any chance at placing, I have to know or believe that everyone is behind me and coming up fast. This is completely new to me. But I CAN DO IT.

In my last race, I ended up coming in 2nd in my AG. I had NO idea that I was in first place until the last half a mile of the 5K. When I was passed, I was SO PISSED off. I knew that I could have run a little faster throughout the entire 5K. Yes, she was straight up a faster runner, but I could have gone faster. I SAW HER. She was running as hard as she could. I can't sit here and say that I gave it everything I had because I didn't. We could have had one of those photo-finish type of races. When she passed, I didn't know where we were. If I had known, I was in first, you can bet that I would have run as hard as I could.

Now, I'm just going to assume that I am and work like hell to stay there. (OF COURSE, there will be women ahead of me. For now, when I get to the run, I'm not to the point where I can hunt down the fastest of runners. I'm just not there and might never be. Instead, I'll do my best and avoid being caught).

This year is going to be different. I don't want "good enough".

I don't want good. I don't want good enough. 
I don't want easy. I want crazy.

I don't need a longer bike in order to stretch out my lead. I know that from the very start of the bike, I can go really hard without blowing up. It's 20 miles of my favorite type of course. I can hit that bitch HARD. I'm just better on the bike this year. I might not be the best (at this race because it's pretty competitive), but I'm better than I was.

Last year's time: 58:58
Goal time for 20 miles: 55-56 minutes.

The swim isn't a concern either. I've become better at swim racing. I'm not perfect, and I can still get better. The main issue with this swim course is that it is very chaotic. It's a HUGE challenge for the fastest swimmers in each AG as we have to swim through the slowest swimmers of previous waves. The course is condense.

This year, I'm going to be more aggressive on the swim. Besides swimming HARDER TEA NOT FASTER, I'm going to plow through if I have to. (By the way, those are my FAVORITE swim coach's words. PULL HARDER NOT FASTER. It's become my mantra).

Last year's time: 12:17ish
Goal time for swim:  10-10:30

The run is a little harder for me to predict. I'd like to say sub 1 hour, but that doesn't really go with the rest of my goals.

It seems a little weak. I'm going to set 2 goals.

Last year's time: 1:04:42
Goal time: 55:00 (aggressive), sub 1 hour (reasonable)

I've laid it all out there. Those goals....they will not be easy, but I don't want easy.