Thursday, August 25, 2016

2016: The Unexpected Year

I haven't written a "year in review" in a few years. It probably seems weird that I'm doing one in August.

Nationals was (in my mind) the end of my tri season. Everything after Nationals is work for 2017.

This year might be the most incredible year that I've ever had because it was full of the unexpected. It was definitely the year that everything started coming together for me.

In order to understand why 2016 was so incredible, you should understand the path that I've taken to get here.

I started triathlon in 2005. From 2005 until 2011, I followed a variety of training plans. I did a couple of races (sometimes just one) a year. We had started our company and were raising two sons. sometimes has a shitstorm waiting for you.  My level of commitment to triathlon was low. I used triathlon, running, swimming, cycling as a means of release: stress relief or time to myself or fill in the blank.

In 2012, I came up with a list of the most ridiculous goals anyone could ever dream up. I never shared these goals with anyone. Sure, I shared the safe goals with people. I've blogged about them. The ginormous goals, I kept to myself.

The easiest way to mediocrity is through setting reasonable goals. My goals were CRAZY and completely unrealistic. I didn't care. Every day, I thought about them. Every day, I visualized reaching those goals. Every day, I went through the feelings and emotions of reaching those goals.

From 1/2012-12/2013, I hired my first coach. Somewhere along the line, I think in 2013, I got my first podium. It was a very small race. There might have been 4 or 5 women in my age group. I podiumed simply because I finished. Needless to say, I was happy to get my first podium.

But, I still had that feeling that I could be so much more. To me a podium is all fine and dandy, but I'm an internally motivated person. I am not motivated by external factors. I want to be my best.

At this point, I had been in triathlon for 8 years.

At the end of 2013, I needed some time off from the sport. I needed to disconnect and figure out what I wanted to do.

We all go through this. This is normal with every sport. We all have times where we need to step away.

I started making changes.

In January 2014, I started working with Coach Liz. As many of you know, I am still with Liz. Although I give her credit for the athlete I am today, I have to give her credit for this one piece of advice. I knew that I needed a break, but SHE was the first person to EVER to say to me, "Take a break. Before we start training, I want you to take X number of weeks off. No training. No thinking about triathlon. Exercise in different ways. Be active. Enjoy life in new and different ways."

I have been with her for 2 years and (almost) 9 months. It has taken me 2 years and 9 months to get where I am now.

The first year with her was what I call a foundation year. We started from scratch. My first year with her, I got my first "1st place AG" win, and I qualified for Nationals. But it wasn't all pixie dust and rainbows. I was learning her system. I was faced with new levels of challenges. By the end of the year, I liked what I saw.

The second year with her, Liz upped the game. I rose to every challenge. This was the next phase. More than ever, we worked on my physical and mental strength. Newsflash.....your mental game isn't about someone telling you how to think differently. It's about learning how to think differently.  It was in my 2nd year, that I realized I had to make more changes if I wanted to reach my goals.

My third year, 2016, was the unexpected year.

In the winter of 2015 and 2016, we had a Super El Nino. I live at 6300ft. Many of you remember I was training for a half marathon. 99.9% of my training was done on a treadmill staring out a window only to see 3 feet of snow. Liz's half marathon training was unlike any I'd done before. (I've done a lot of half marathons).

I PR'd the half marathon.

Right after the half marathon, I asked Liz if we could move into bike training. I felt like the bike was the key to many things, and I never had the opportunity to focus on the bike. I'm strong on the bike. WHAT if we hit the bike hard? Liz listened, and said, "Let's do it."

Over the next few months, we did one bike test a month. My w/kg exploded from 2.85% to 3.4%.  In March, I ran a 5k PR. A long standing PR fell.

I had an April race planned and was chomping at the bit to race when we got the news that the race was cancelled (not the RD's fault).

Back in 2012, I got an umbilical hernia. You can go back and read the entire story if you so desire; it's not really all that interesting. The end result was that I decided to get it fixed this year. Many concerned citizens told me my season was over.

I didn't listen to them. I didn't listen to horror stories.

I listened to my surgeon. I went through surgery. I didn't take any opiates for pain. The day after surgery, my surgeon told me to start walking as soon as possible. I was up and walking.

A few weeks later, I was released to start training again, no restrictions.

As I was sitting in the parking lot of the doctor's office, I called Liz.

"We have 8 weeks. Do you think I can be ready for Boulder 70.3?"

Her response, "Absolutely."

"Ok. Then. Let's do it."

Having 3 weeks off and then 8 weeks to get ready for a 70.3 requires a lot of dedication. Liz warned me that it would take 3-4 weeks just to get back to my old paces.  Dina (nutritionist) gave me recommendations for pre and post surgery; all of which I followed to a T. I then worked with her for my 70.3 training.

Liz put me through the hardest 70.3 training I've ever done. I'd trained with her in 2014 for a 70.3. This training was training on steroids.

The result was a 23 minute PR and with a placing that I could only dream of. THAT day, I realized I could compete at a high level at the 70.3....if I chose to.

I had other fish to fry. Remember those BIG goals from 2012? I was focused on reaching them. I wouldn't reach those goals by jumping on a bandwagon. I would only reach those goals by following my plan, my own path.

After Boulder, we went full bore into training for Nationals. I told Liz that I needed/wanted to do a sprint before Nationals, so I could get some sprint practice in.

At the last minute, I signed up for Tri Boulder.

I came in 2nd with a huge bike and run PR.

Up next was Nationals, and all know how that played out. I came in 26th at Nationals with PRs all over the place. This was the first glimpse I ever had that those big scary goals could become a reality.

After Nationals, Liz and I talked. For the first time ever, I shared the BIG scary goals from 2012. Not all of them, I felt that was premature. I shared two of them with Liz. She didn't hesitate. She didn't stutter.

She said, "LET'S DO IT."

I went home and told Mr. Tea. He said, "Wow. I had no idea. Those are some big goals. No goal is worth it if it isn't big."

Nationals is over. Liz and I set a plan for the coming months.  Like back in Jan, I had ideas of my own and asked her, "What if we do this.....?"

Unlike January this time, she said, "No. We're going to stick with our plan". (Well, she said it in her LIZ way). That's what great coaches do. They tell you what you need to hear; not what you want to hear. Athletes can get ahead of themselves. It's up to a Coach to know when to say "No" and when to say, "Yes.".

We are now working on our two year plan.

I'm not the same person I was +2.5 years ago. I'm out to crush every single one of those big goals I set for myself back in 2012.