Monday, September 5, 2016

The path to greatness isn't straight.....or easy.

I raced last week. No blog post. No race report. If you're on Strava, you know that I race pretty often. I don't always write about the races because I race pretty often. This is one (of many) advantages of doing sprint and olympic distance races: recovery is fast.

The race itself wasn't a big deal for me. I'd done more racing than normal. Race #1....two weeks later....Race #2.....two weeks later....Race #3.

I ain't gonna lie. I had goal for this race. I was hoping I'd punch my ticket to Nationals for 2017. I, also, knew it would be stretch. This would be my 3rd race in a month. We (Liz and I) did a great job on recovery for each race. Still, I've never done anything like this before.

Besides attempting to get my Nationals qualifier, my goal was to give everything I had.

I ended up up being first on the swim.

I was first on the bike.

I came in second.

We all know how I feel about that.

The reality is that I didn't really care that I came in second. I don't care about getting beat by a better athlete.

In this particular race, I was passed with only .25 miles left on the run. My legs were screaming at me to stop. When the woman passed me, I tried to keep up. I couldn't. She won, fair and square.

I came in second because I ran a pretty bad 5k, and I never once pushed through it.

This post is not meant to be a race report. It's about what happened afterward.

When the race finished, Liz and I talked in great depth. One of the things that I really appreciate about Liz is that she has worked with several coaches over the years. She has raced as a pro. She has raced at all distances as a top age grouper. 

There is not one other person that I know personally who can talk to me from the perspective of really truly understanding what it is like to race triathlon. She knows how to communicate this to me.

After the race, we talked.....and talked. We talked more about this race than Nationals.

I expressed my frustration not about holding my pace, but of not pushing through the pain in my legs. 

After I stopped being frustrated, we talked again. I casually mentioned that I didn't push through because I'd never experienced that level of pain before. 

I swam my best swim of the year. I rode my fastest bike. After years of Liz telling me, "In the sprint and oly, you either need to embrace the pain or ignore it better than anyone", I finally really understood what that meant.

I asked, "Can we duplicate those feelings in training?"

This past weekend, it happened again. She scheduled me for a very tough bike, followed by a tough run. The next day, she wanted me to run the fastest intervals I've ever run......finishing with 4 intervals at 6:45 pace.

I missed every single interval. At one point, I even stopped, trying to get my head wrapped around what I was trying to do. I started running again.

During the last 4 intervals, I realized that she did it. She put me into race day pain, and I failed again. 

I came up against pain, and I didn't push through again.

Now, I know. It's happened twice now. I could be upset. I'm not. I see this as the next step in my development. Pain tolerance is learned. I need time to learn it, to accept it and to excel through it.

When I shared my goals with Liz, I knew she was going to take me into a whole new world. A world she knows, OH too well, but one that I've never even visited. 

Like every other time, I'm going to work through this.

When I'm done I'm going to be even stronger than I was before.