I signed up for this weekend’s 70.3 as a consolation race after not being able to go to Vineman. I have not been excited about this race at all.
Part of it was disappointment. Oklahoma is not Napa. Going to race alone v group of friends. Did I mention Oklahoma is not Napa?
Part of it was I was broken. More than I thought. Half iron training began January 1 with a two hour trainer ride/brick run and been at it ever since. It’s a *long time to train without a race.
I was in a bad coaching relationship I should have left months earlier. You’d think after a few dysfunctional relationships you’d learn the signs but some of us just take longer to learn the lesson. Illness also set my fitness level back and I felt frustrated, defeated, full of doubt. Did I even have what it took to do this?
Part of it was continued training in the brutal summer heat. Realistically? I would have still trained, to some degree anyway. When it’s 85 at 5 am and you have a 3.5 hour ride ahead, when running at 94 is considered running when it’s cool, it gets taxing and tiring. “Makes us stronger. Makes Fall training better.” Yeah yeah. Have told myself and others that “training truth that sounds like a lie but we say it to make it just seem better.”
Part of it was my training season was less than perfect. Life happened. And happened. And happened. Sometimes it was easier to adapt than others. Some days I took my trainer to the soccer fields and track; some days it just didn’t happen. Enter the guilt, frustration and doubt demons.
Part of it was some of my Tri connections with their passive/aggressive behaviour. Those people who ask you about your training only because they want to tell you about theirs. Those people who are competitive with you when you don’t share similar fitness experience, similar goals, similar life circumstances. Those people who secretly want to see you fail, whatever that means. So I quit talking about what race I was doing, diverted when someone asked and trudged along.
I needed my training fire revived and stoked. My new coach had the right tools. I would not have gotten through this season without him. I am not sure if he knew how jacked in the head and burned out I was when he agreed to coach me but he quickly recognised it. Patient. Encouraging. Planned training sessions tailored for me. Prodding me firmly but gently when needed, Coach got me back on track.
Joy returned slowly as did the desire to push myself. Doubt and frustration still reared their ugly heads at times. Coach would reach into his trusty coaching toolbox and make me think, laugh, look inward at how ridiculous some of that was. I am and will forever be grateful to him.
Two weeks ago, I had a complete meltdown after a frustrating run. My Training Peaks notes reflected those old feelings of doubt, fear. I have performance issues, especially with the run. I have suffered and survived some not so pretty things in life. Feeling weak is quite difficult for me; admitting the feeling is harder. I tell myself “This is nominal in comparison. Get a fucking grip,” but it doesn’t always translate.
One of the things I love most about Coach is his ability to be relatable, human. He shares his own training challenges and successes, physical, mental, emotional. Amazingly strong athlete. Extremely real. Extremely likable. Tactful with no bullshit.
Here is part of his coaching after reading my post run notes:
The people who want you to fail will want you to fail and will find fault no matter what. The people who want you to succeed will find the bright side in your worst days and will stand right behind you. We call those people… friends.
As the one of the more recent tips suggests, the cake is baked. The work that really matters is already done. What remains is what is needed to keep you from dropping too much fitness while shedding fatigue. What happens on race day is going to happen.
As I start the race, I ask myself why I am here. I typically have several answers but at the top of the list – I’m here to finish this race. You can DNF if they pull you off the course or you run out of time but don’t have a pity party and take the easy option. You are doing this because it’s hard. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a challenge and everyone would do it.
Stand on the line and ask yourself: Why am I here? The answer can be many reasons but it should never be about what anybody else is going to think. Screw everybody else. Then it’s just about you.
I know you are tougher than nails and you will put 110% into that race. Whatever happens, happens. Just do your best, know that you did your best and you really can’t ask for anything else.
Great stuff, right? I have chewed on this a lot in the last two weeks. Why am I doing this? What am I trying to prove? And to whom? What if I never tried?
This is why: I love the feeling of accomplishment post training, whether it is an easy run, a “that looked way easier on paper” trainer session. I love pushing myself to do things I never thought possible. Whether it’s a new distance or peeing on the bike (Yes, I am *really jazzed over that. Big accomplishment). Seeing progress I’ve made. Having something new to reach for. There is something so satisfactory about it.
I am finally excited about race day. As Coach says, it’s about what winning is FOR ME. With the challenges of the training season, this will not be the race of my life. It *is a race I can finally embrace with open arms and peace. Whatever happens, I will take the lessons and learn from them. Most importantly, I will be proud of myself. Because I Tri-ed.