Sunday, February 15, 2015

Final Race Thoughts

Many of you know that I define success by how I feel, not by medals or podiums but by how I feel about a race.

I either give my best or I don't. It has nothing to do with race conditions. It has nothing to do with finish times. I can give my best in the worst of conditions, have a slower finish time and feel fantastic about a race.

Likewise, I can podium, know I didn't do my best....and be disappointed in my race. I'm all about internal satisfaction.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I ran a 10K; I followed my plan exactly, and I enjoyed the distance. That was so much more than getting a PR. The PR is nice because it's a quantitative measurement of improvement, but I'm not about that; I'm an internally motivated person.

For years, the 10K has frustrated me. I think we all remember my breakdown last year, when I screamed at my Coach: I DON'T KNOW HOW TO RACE THE 10K! I feel like everyone has some secret that I don't know!!

That's a direct quote, from me.

That's when "Eat Pain" was born.

My opinion is that when you hire a coach, you need to commit to that person for a year to see results. (Barring, of course, a bad relationship. I've heard stories of coaches that don't respond, don't listen and just don't seem to care. Those relationships need to be cut off asap.) 

If you haven't had a Coach before, you'll see immediate results simply from having a plan created for YOU. Being consistent in your workouts and being held accountable go a long way to giving you improvements.

If you are switching from one coach to another, you'll be switching training methodologies. When you switch coaches, you may or may not see immediate results. I switched and learned where all my weaknesses were.

And that was a good thing because my weaknesses were actually very different that what I thought they were. When I started with Liz, I had to adjust everything I did but mostly I adjusted my perception of myself.

I sat back and realized that I wasn't as good as I thought I was (in some areas), and I was better than I realized in others.

Signing up with Liz then set in motion a series of events. I felt really good about my swim but having Liz as my Coach, I realized that "good" was no longer going to be good enough. I quit my old masters swim team to swim on a team that has the USMS Coach of the Year as the head coach.

When I told Liz about the change and about how fast everyone was and that I get lapped over and over, she said, "I get lapped every day in practice in warm ups. It's good for you."  Switching masters meant that I went from being one of the faster swimmers to one of the slowest swimmers. I chose to do that.

Getting my ass kicked day in and day out didn't discourage me. It made me hungrier. (Figuratively and literally). Every day I got in that pool, determined to NOT get lapped.

Masters wasn't the only change.

At first, I was dependent on Liz to raise the bar for me. She would say "Run THIS fast or swim THIS pace or ride at THIS power", and I would be worried about even being able to do the workout. BUT, every single time, I did it.

Over the course of the year, I started changing. Liz would say "Swim a 1:20", and I swam a 1:05. Liz would say, "I want power at a minimum of 250", and I'd ride at +300. She would say, "Run a 9:00 pace, and I'd run 8:50".

Instead of seeing her workouts as the toughest workouts I could do, I saw the workouts as a BASELINE.

I started raising the bar for myself.

It was a year of tearing down the old foundation and starting to rebuild this athlete from the ground up.

Yesterday was my reward. It wasn't the finish time. It was the fact that I realized I CAN DO THIS. I can follow a plan but more importantly take the risk to break from the plan. I can chase down a competitor. I can hold my own. I can take a risk and not back down.

That mental barrier is gone. From here on out, PRs are going to topple.

In August, if I'm in 25th place, I know that I will chase down 24th. I won't be afraid to do it. I won't be worried about not being able to do it.

I will do it.