Sunday, August 9, 2015

Day 2: Sprint National Championships

Because of few of my friends are not triathletes, I thought I'd explain how the National Championships work.

In order to race the Oly, you have to qualify. Now, you can qualify at either a sprint distance race or an olympic distance race. You have to be something like the top 10% of your age group or top 30% at a regional qualifier. I don't know the exact details, but that is probably good enough.

In order to race the Sprint, you don't have to qualify. You just sign up.

I've said over and over that the oly is NOT my best distance. I have been learning how to race the Oly as a means to help me with my mental toughness, and my ability to push through when things get really tough.

This is killing me, btw. I so badly want to tell you all about my BIG EXCITING plans, but I need to tell you about Day 2 first. In fact, part of my BIG EXCITING plans came up over lunch yesterday. I think Liz was:
1.) Genuinely surprised.
2.) Genuinely happy.....well she said, "good thinking" to Mr. Tea, who came up with the plan.

BACK to the race report.

After following Liz's recovery plan, I woke up feeling pretty excellent. I am usually pretty sore the morning after an Oly.

Now.....there's a big gap between "not feeling sore" and "feeling fresh". My head was in the right place. I was ready to go.

I love the sprint distance. Just love it, but man......It felt really long today. Spoiler alert, it ended up being one of my slowest sprints in a number of years.

But it's ok. It really is. I once again accomplished what I wanted, "Learn to stay tough when things get tough. Stay in the game when a race isn't going the way I'd hoped."

You see. In the past, I've been a quitter. When things don't go my way, when I am going to miss a PR, I mentally surrender.  More than anything else, I have been working on the mental side this year.

I promise. This report will be pretty short.

Based on what happened yesterday, I made a few changes.

The swim. Chaos again, but the gap between the really fast and the slower swimmers is bigger because there are no qualifications. One woman was doing her very first tri today.

As soon as I took off, I could feel yesterday's race. I never struggle on the swim. I love open water swimming. I've learned a ton about pacing. I recently swam my best 2.4 mile swim in 1:06:17. What I'm saying is that I am confident about my swim. When things are tough, I don't sweat it. I know I can get myself out of the mess.

So when I felt yesterday's swim after passing the first buoy, I knew I had to change something. I was going hard, but I didn't think the pace was sustainable. Because I was tired, I knew that my actual pace was quite a bit slower than what my effort was.

I heard Coach Andrew's voice in my head, "Tea. What are you doing?" He would always yell that at me when he saw me "giving up" or my form disintegrate.

What are you doing? I started focusing on my form. I slowed down and worked on my BIG PULL. Like the previous day, the other women started chasing buoys. I went straight at the arches.

I swam very close to 750m. Sorry, I don't have my swim time here. But the pace was almost exactly what it was the previous day.


I got on the bike. Yesterday, I blew through the first 5 miles at 22mph and at 95-100% FTP. Today. It was ridiculous. I decided to work on my cadence. Try to keep the cadence high.

A few miles into the ride I was feeling "ok". At this point, I decided to throw out my PR goal. I know I will get a sprint race PR again, but it won't be today. I was too ambitious thinking I could do it after racing the day before.

Just because I won't PR doesn't mean I'm going to give up. Nope. That's when I thought about a video that Jason sent me.
It's YOU versus THEM.
It's YOU versus Can't.
It's YOU versus No.

For the rest of the day, my mantra became, "It's YOU versus Can't".

I couldn't hold Power, but I wasn't going to let it drop. Every time I thought, "I can't do this", I countered with, "It's you versus can't. It's YOU versus No."

Although I struggled on the bike, I ended up being only a minute off my PR time. Damn....I'll take that!

I pulled in and saw Mr. Tea. I tried to smile, but I was struggling and negotiating my run plan in my head. I gave him a thumbs up.

When I got to transition and was running out, I thought my legs actually felt pretty good. Again, not fresh, but not too bad. 

I set a plan....5k.....every mile drop the pace. My goal: Maintain the pace from yesterday.

Mile 1: Right on target (faster than yesterday).
Mile 2: Getting faster.

and Mile 3.....the wheels came off the bus. My pace was dropping. My legs didn't want to move, not fast anyway. 

I was thinking, "wow. this is so much harder than I thought it would be, but look what you're doing!"

You versus can't.

You versus no.

Just keep running.

With a half mile left, a woman on the sidewalk....I swear she started running. Believe it or not, I thought it might have been Jen Harrison....but I've never met her, and I thought, "no way"....but she stayed with me. Jen is one of Liz's athlete's (Did the double and podiumed both days. Won on Sat. Not sure what she did on Sunday). Jen is also a coach of JHTC. 

I don't know why I thought it was her, except that she kept running with me, and I was wearing my MSM kit. She kept saying things to me: Do this. Do that. I was listening, but I was now hurting more than I've ever hurt before.

I've done a number of 70.3's....I've never hurt this bad. 

Then, I hit the red carpet, and she disappeared.

I ran as hard as I could to the finish.

I crossed the finish line. I got my towel. I could have sworn I saw the woman again. I turned to see who it was, and she was gone.

Who was she? Was it Jen? 

I don't know. Maybe she was my guardian angel who decided to show up right when I was struggling the most, but I listened to what she said. It gave me just enough distraction.

Once again, I found my Big Indian. 

That's it. I did it. 

Now, I'm in my off season. Liz and I talked. I told her I wanted to take time off from coaching. She said, "Take as much time as you want." She gave me ideas for keeping active without having to report in to someone.

I need that time; time where I can get away from numbers. Time where I can relax and enjoy everything that I've accomplished this year. 

Once I do that and give my future plans one last look over, then I'll be ready to share them with you.

Until then, there won't be many posts in the way of "training" since technically I'm not training. There won't be posts about my crazy tough workouts, but I'll still be around. 

Last but not least. There are people in my life who deserve a huge thank you. I won't name names. You know who you are. 

I want to thank you for your jokes & teasing. Thank you for knowing when I need a shoulder to cry on and when I need a kick in the butt. Thank you for the videos you've posted to my facebook page. Thank you for giving me space to write (here) without judgement. 

Most importantly, thank you for your friendship. You have gotten me through so many good times and bad times. Thank you. I couldn't do any of this without you.