Saturday, April 25, 2015

Give it a try? Maybe?

Apropos for races

Some of you know this story, so this might be a post you want to skip.

I started triathlon in 2005 after having an accident. Nothing major. When I asked the doctor when I could run again, he laughed and said, "RUN? You'll never run again. You'll never walk without pain again."

That answer wasn't acceptable to me. When I was in my cast, I started with pool running. Then, I was able to start swimming. 

When I got out of my cast, I had been researching the healing power of yoga. I had always done yoga. But this time, I went into it with everything. I did it every single day. Once I was able to bear weight, I started riding my bike.

Three weeks after my cast came off, I did my first tri. I walked the 5k in excruciating pain. 

My thought was "If I'm going to be in pain no matter what, I might as well keep doing the things I love."

I finished the triathlon. It was the most amazing and empowering thing I had ever done. I was scared to death during the swim BUT I STILL DID IT. I had no idea what I was doing on the bike, but I FINISHED. I was in excruciating pain, but I COMPLETED THE RUN.

After that, I continued to do my yoga. I continued with swimming, biking and running. 

It took 2 years. Two years after getting my cast off, I realized that I was running without pain. The entire run. Not one bit of pain.

I had continued to do triathlon. I went from sprints to olys to half irons to ironman. I moved through the distances rather quickly. 

I had a sense of  "empowerment", maybe? I felt like I could do anything after coming back.

In triathlon, I completely skipped the "speed before distance" mentality. I don't think I'm alone in that.

I went through the motions of all the shorter courses; I was good ole "one speed" regardless of the distance.

Because of that, my long course experiences were ummmm not pleasant. I realized that training for long course meant giving up on a lot of "life". 

Say what you want. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. I blog about triathlon. Because of that, it might seem like I'm obsessed with it. 

I'm not at all. We had two small sons at the time. I was missing out on time with Mr. Tea and time with the boys. Was I physically present? Yes. Of course, but I was miserable. I was tired. I was hungry. I couldn't be a good parent, spouse....OR be happy doing what I was doing. 

Something had to give. It was long course. I wasn't happy being out on a course ALL DAMN DAY. I wasn't happy spending my weekends training. 

I loved triathlon. I decided it was time to go back to basics. It was time for me to work on my speed. That was the end of 2011. I signed up with a Coach in Nov of 2011. It was my first time ever hiring a coach.

At the back of my mind, I always thought that I would go back to long course. I've written about it SO many times. I set some goals for myself. If I break 2:45 in the OLY, I'd do a 70.3 again. When I break 6:00, I'd do IM again. After all, the boys are off to college. I'd have TIME to train.

And 2012, 2013, that was my plan. 

Then 2014 happened. It was filled with emotional ups and downs. There was so much good and so much bad in one year. 

With both boys off to college, I *DID* have more time. My training was manageable. I trained for olys for the first half, then switched to 70.3 training.

I didn't have to do the 70.3. Liz and I had a long talk about it. I knew it was going to be a time suck. Just as things were rolling along with the oly training, I switched gears. I had to make sure that I was doing it for me. 

It was good for me. I would never have signed up for it on my own. Originally, there were supposed to be friends there. On race day, it ended up just being me (and Mr. Tea of course). 

After the race, I realized that my goals were MY goals. I didn't enjoy the race. I didn't enjoy the training. I LOVE swimming long. I LOVE being on my bike for hours. I LOVE running half marathons. 

I do NOT love training for or racing long course. Guess what? Training for the oly still gives me the opportunity to swim, bike and run long. 

There are SO many people who love going long. Those distances get the most attention. The IM World Championship is on tv every OCT/NOV. But the ITU World Championships for the OLY and Sprint? You never hear anything about it. (BTW US women recently swept the podium at Gold Coast). The only reason anyone even heard anything about it was because it was a SWEEP. Outside of triathlon? I don't know if anyone even knew it happened.

Since I've switched to short and intermediate distances, I've wanted to be an ambassador for the distances. I'm not critical of long distances. I simply want people to realize the enjoyment of going hard and short.

I want to encourage people to do sprints and oly distances and embrace the completely different challenge of racing as hard as you can, of pushing the limits of what you think you can do. I want to encourage triathletes who current do long course to give short course a try. I mean a REAL TRY. Take a year or two off from long course and work on your speed. 

There might be a day that I go back to long course. I might get the itchin' to see how my new speed translates to longer distances. 

I recently spoke to a woman who gave up triathlon completely because she no longer had time to train and race long course. She refused to race short course. Her coach recommended that she try short course. She refused. Athletes who do long course should consider at least CONSIDER the benefits of going short.  Enjoy having extra time. Enjoy the challenge of going all out. Enjoy life. Then take that new found speed and go back to long course to see how is translates. Endurance is easy to gain. Speed is not.

At then end of this season, when you're thinking about next year's goals. All I ask is that you consider a year of doing shorter races.