I have never been more excited, ready, geeked, prepared.....to race than I was today.
For weeks, I have felt like I was on the brink of a breakthrough.
I had a race plan unlike any I've written before.
I was so ready for this.
The weather was absolutely perfect racing weather.
Luck of the draw gave me the very first spot on the very first rack near the bike exit.
I felt great.
When I got to the race venue, I thought to myself, "the stars are aligning for a great day".
Then, I realized that based on the way they did the bib numbers, I was the only person in my age group on the rack.
I took this as a sign. This will force me to focus on my race and not pay attention to how many bikes are racked after the swim.
Normally, I don't worry about what other women are doing, but I do take note of who's out of the water or who has already started running.
I thought about it. This is really good for me.
My wave started at 7:30. I thought, for sure, the sun would be up and well out of our way before we started swimming.
I was wrong. No one could see anything. This was across the board. Small groups of athletes were checking with each other to see if anyone could see the buoys.
The RD repeatedly told us, "You can't see the 2nd green buoy. It's out there. Trust me. That's where you turn".
Staring out on the water, for a split second, I thought I could see a buoy.....wayyyyyy out there......I had to come up with a strategy.
The buoys didn't really line up. Three were in line. One was out of line. I looked out.
I thought, "everyone is going to attempt to go from buoy to buoy. That's going to add distance".
I opted for what was behind door number 2.
I wasn't going to chase buoys. I was going to beeline straight to the dam wall. (Oh. The sun also made it impossible to see swimmers off in the distance. So, trying to follow them was impossible).
The olympic distance group started before the sprinters. My plan called for trying to stay focused. I was shooting for a focus rate of about 90%.
As soon as I ran into the sprinters, I would go after a fast one and draft off of him.
We took off running into the water. Immediately, everyone veered to the right, except me and another woman. Throughout the entire race, I didn't know if I was following her....or if she was following me....or a mix of both.
We stayed neck in neck the entire time. Twice I pulled into the lead. Twice I stopped swimming to try to get a visual of the buoy. I should have trusted my internal gps instead of stopping.
....because all of a sudden I look up, and the 2nd green buoy is directly in front of me.
Me and the other woman had already caught the slowest swimmers of all previous waves. As we made the final turn, I see the sprinters merging with the olympic racers.
Find your guy. Find the guy you can draft off of. Unfortunately, this plan didn't really go as expected. I had started to pick up speed and was passing guys like crazy.
I caught the other woman in my sights. She was picking up speed. DRAFT HER. GO NOW.
As a side note: my open water swim speed (in races) has been lacking.
Although I was first out of the water, I did not hit my training paces. Granted some of that had to do with stopping three times.
Still, I got to shore and I thought, "Best effort this year. Let's go crush the bike".
Swim result: MIXED: not as fast as I can swim; first out of the water; best effort this year.
OH LAWDY was I ever ready for that bike.
The minute I jumped on my bike, I knew I had a problem. I'm trying to change gears, and I got nothing.
Well now. Isn't that sucky.
I look down at my gearing. I'm in the big chain ring (in front) and about the middle cog in back. I decide to stay in the race.
I think, "Use what you have. Do what you can".
I know I will not be able to hit top speeds. (There is an awesome, super fast, steep, with no curves descent on the course. I was going to tear it up).
BUT, I could push it on the uphills.
I'm catching and passing sprinters.
I'm catching and passing people from the oly race.
I'm too focused on the job at hand to notice that I hadn't seen any women, any women +40 since...well, since we were talking at the racks.
When I get to the top of the big descent, I notice that the road was all chip seal. Well dammit. I'm still going to go as hard as I can, at least until I get to "spinout". Then, I'll have to coast the rest of the way.
For the entire bike, I averaged almost 21mph, which is a huge PR for the course. My previous best was 18.5 mph. My top speed was 33.7 mph. That was disappointing. I could have easily hit +45mph. I love going fast.
Bike result: MIXED. I'm happy that I PR'd, but dammit, I could have really blown away my previous time. Best Bike Split said I could do 1:12. I finished in 1:16. Four minutes doesn't seem like much, but when the swim and bike are your strength, it's kinda a lot.
When I pulled into transition, the thing that struck me was HOW MANY BIKES were already racked.
WOW. Am I in last place?
I committed to this race. I might be in last place, but I am going to run like I'm in first.
I have an opportunity to PR this run. I'm not going to give up on that.
I won't drag you through step by step of the run. Except to say that I was running and didn't see any women, again. Oh, I saw a few young'uns, but that was it. I thought about all the bikes that were already racked when I pulled into T2. I kept thinking, "Holy cow. Am I THAT far behind"?
It was awesome seeing Coach Amanda from MSM out there. (Amanda is a coach and pro-triathlete).
She was saying stuff to me.....no idea what....but all that came out of my mouth was: EVERYTHING HURTS.
She said (at this point, I might be making up what she said), "You're in the last mile. You'll be hitting the downhill. Everything you have right now"......or some kind of coachy-motivational-talk.
Oh, and she took this picture of me.
When I crossed the finish line, I met Tara (another MSM) athlete. She and I met up with Coach Amanda. I went over to the results table.
I came in 2nd.
I don't even know how it happened.
The entire race ended up being a +7 minute PR for this specific course and tied with my all time fastest oly. (NOTE: This bike was a longer than normal bike course).
RUN RESULTS: MIXED. I tied my all time 10k off the bike run. Could I have run better? Yeah. I think so.
So, what was up with all those bikes in transition?
For some reason, this race had a very high DNF rate. It was very strange. I had 3 friends DNF on the swim. The woman who was next to me in transition took a DNF. And I saw an old coach of mine (from years ago) walking his bike back on the side of the road; I can only assume, with a mechanical issue.
As I was waiting for the awards ceremony, I was talking to a guy. He'd never done a triathlon before. He asked to see my results, and I handed him my sheet. He said, "You guys are the toughest athletes I know. It just seems so hard".
Triathlon is hard. And it can be frustrating at times. And progress can feel slow. Then, to have a day like today that was set up to be one of my best races.....only to end up with a mixed bag of emotions.....it can be hard.
I'm not disappointed. It's kind of hard to explain what I'm feeling. On the other hand, I learned quite a bit about my weaknesses and strengths in each of the events. Things that I would have never noticed before if:
1.) I hadn't been chasing sprinters on the swim.
2.) I hadn't had the bike failure.
3.) I hadn't thought I was in last place on the run.
The pursuit of my best race; the one that I know I have in me, continues.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
This weekend was a HUGE racing weekend.
More impressive results came in after this post was published.
The coaches of MSM are hands down the best coaches. If you are an athlete (single or multisport) and you want to become a better athlete, you owe yourself to contact Head Coach Liz.
Anyone can throw a training plan into trainingpeaks and call it "coaching". The difference with the MSM coaches is that they coach the mental side of racing and develop athletes. Afterall, we can't improve our speeds if we don't improve our minds. This is in addition to putting together highly effective, individualized training plans.
Follow Liz on Twitter here. She regularly posts the most current research on everything related to training & life success.
When you are shopping around for a Coach, the #1 question to ask is "Can I talk to those athletes you have taken from beginner to top age grouper?" Or middle of the pack to PRO.
That's how I met Liz. I personally knew 5 athletes who started with her as beginners or back of the pack athletes. I watched them grow into World Qualifiers (for all distances).
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Yoda was full of shit.
A couple of weeks back, I was physically tired and had masters on my schedule. I showed up and thought there was no way I was going to keep up.
We ordered the lane, and I was second. The entire time I said, "I'm going to stay to the right, pass me if you need to".
I was determined to give it everything I had even though I felt like I had nothing.
Something magical happened. I was swimming fast. I switched places with the leader and was lapping the last people in the lane.
Afterward, I sat in the parking lot, completely amazed at what I did. I furiously typed up my notes in trainingpeaks. Coach Liz responded with, "Sometimes all you have to do is try".
Once again, it's simple but not easy.
On various social media sites, I see comments such as "I didn't have it today. I called it quits. My legs were dead. I'm too sore. LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY"!
These are precisely the days that we need to push through. If you are working with a coach, your coach knows how you feel. There is a reason for that workout.
For those of you who have been following along for at least a year, you already know this. For those of you who are new, you might find this interesting.
Last year, Mr. Tea......the BEST man, almost died due to a major health issue. When it happened, he was over 100lbs overweight.
Unlike many people, he took this incident seriously and set out to change his life. He has now lost 119lbs; eats an incredibly healthy diet and exercises every day.
Because he was overweight for so long, he has to re-learn what "healthy" feels like. It's uncomfortable getting healthy. On almost a daily basis, I'm sore or my legs feel dead or I'm tired or.....there are days that I'm just not right. (A good example was yesterday's open water swim. I felt uncoordinated and couldn't fix it).
I'm not one to complain. You'll never hear me complain about the heat or about a course being too hard or water being too cold or *me* being sore or any of that. Likewise, I never use any of those at an excuse for race times or training paces. And, as I said, I don't use them as an excuse to quit a workout.
After the open water swim, I had an hour run planned. I'd had a weekend of very tough workouts. I was feeling the open water workout. Running was the last thing I wanted to do.
Of course, I knew I would do it, anyway.
Several months ago, Mr. Tea made a comment that I make training look easy. The comment stuck with me. It takes a ton of scheduling and re-scheduling. It takes a ton of prep. It takes a ton effort to get out there day in and day out.
Because I don't complain, it comes across as though it's easy for me.
With Mr. Tea taking on new exercise challenges and learning how his body will feel, I really wanted to make sure that he understood that what I do......it isn't easy.
Before I left for my run yesterday, I said, "I want you to know. I'm tired. My legs are sore. I don't particularly want to run, but I'm going to do it anyway. This is what people don't see. When you drive by me, know this......I'm struggling".
I was running ugly.
After a 30 minute warm up, I ran track intervals. The entire warm up, I kept saying, "All you have to do is try".
And I did.
When I got to the track, I gave it everything I had. I emptied the tank.
I've never emptied the tank before.
I ran my fastest intervals ever. I saw paces that I've never seen before.
I sat on the side of the track and sent off my notes to Liz. I could barely contain my excitement.
This is what people are missing out on when they quit a workout. They are denying themselves the chance to breakthrough, mentally.
The next time you're tired or slow or feel the dreaded dead legs; hell, if you are getting off the couch for the very first time, remember.
Sometimes all you need to do is try.
Thursday, June 1, 2017
I've been desperate before. That's when I started working with a sports dietitian.
I've been frustrated before. That's when I started working with Liz.
I've never been this fucking angry with myself.
When you're doing the best possible training and following the best nutrition plan, there's only one change left to make.
That change is ME.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been writing letters to myself. Some are plans for races. Some are random, but really quite insightful, thoughts.
And I've been reading, a lot.
Out of nowhere, I stumbled upon information that hit me like a brick....and a light came on.
First, I was really mad. Then, I calmed down and came up with a plan. Not at all a detailed plan. It was more of "YOU'RE GOING TO FUCKING DO THIS".....type of plan.
Because I'm finally tired of my own bullshit.