Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What if...

What if you could get what you want without really working that hard for it?

  • Would you be afraid to push yourself because you were unprepared?
  • Would the race itself be less satisfying?
  • Would victory be as sweet?

This question came up in my mind this morning as I was leaving my short recovery workout that was nice, but I part of me wanted to do more, and part of me was happy that I did my entire workout in 45 minutes.

One of the reasons I love triathlon is because it rewards those people like me, hard workers (not always the most talented, but hard workers none the less). Triathlons lend themselves to consistency, both in training and in life outside of training. They are great for those who like variety, but are prone to injury, because the three sports develop different muscles and allow for less pounding and overuse of the same systems over and over again. They require balance, balance in training, recovery and even balance on race day, not overdoing it on one sport to the point you can't function in the rest of the race. The people who can achieve in triathlon are the ones who are consistent, who find balance, who love to train but don't overdo it, who recover when required, and who day in and day out, never lose site of their goals.

With that said, I raced in Philly this past week, and yes, this blog is going somewhere. The other fact about triathlon that I am learning is that every race cannot be an "A" race and sometimes certain races, while always races, are looked at as stepping stones to a larger more grandiose picture. Triathlon requires perspective, if you don't have it, watch out, you're not going to be happy within this sport. Not every athlete is spot on for every race, any day of the week, at any time. There only are so many "A" races in one season for most of us. We have to come to terms with that. For some people that may be easy, for a certain former Big Ten Athlete who was expected to be "on" every meet, it may not be!

The Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon was one of those for me. I'm not going to sit here and write a million reasons, or even excuses, about why I didn't do as well as I wanted. I'm only going to state the facts, I came in underdone (i.e. under-trained), it was a "B" race, and I really don't think I pushed hard enough.

I spent the month of May (3 out of 4 weeks) sick, which does not lend itself to training (which I barely did). Two weeks before Philly was my first week on a regular schedule where I did all of my workouts, then, I tapered a bit the week prior (which felt weird considering I was not tired but I follow the system!). Not all races can be "A" races and Philly was not, so no training, little taper and certainly no speed work = no exceptional performance for a race. Lastly, I had a bit of trouble just staying focused during my two hours and twenty four minutes of racing! At times, I slipped into half ironman mode and just was running at a lower heart rate, pedaling along, enjoying the scenery - WHAT, this race is about to be over, and you're just hanging out!

I'm not disappointed with the outcome, I'm just not overly pleased.

After getting on a school bus to head to the race start, which was in fact my first school bus since being in high school (it was strange! I hated those seats - some things never change!), I got to do a little warming up and chatting with friends before the gun went off. Beth, her husband Oscar, a new friend, Maja (I know I am not spelling that right-sorry!) and Lindsay & her boyfriend and I all stood around and talked which was a nice way to take the pressure off and pass the time. Oscar even let me put my clothes, flip flops and other various items in his HUGE bag before the race so I didn't take a chance on loosing it forever on the infamous buses to nowhere (hopefully, everyone else got their stuff back!). Poor guy had to run all the way back to the swim finish with it! What a friend, cheers for Oscar!!

In the end, I had a decent swim with 141 other 25-29 year olds and at least another 90 or so 40-45 year olds. I got beat around in the start and learned that I had better just start in the front and hold on for dear life rather than start in mid-pack, not be able to swim what I could swim, and in the mean time almost loose my life to a person doing the windmill and trying to strip me of my goggles, cap and even my wetsuit if I stayed that close. I came out of the water after swimming mostly alone (except for the next set of age groupers I caught, always a crazy mess) 24 mins or so later (my time says 25:05 but we had a bit to go before the mat), a decent transition later (wetsuits are NOT fun to get off, I remember how much I hated that part in this race) I was off on the bike.

Dang Wetsuit!!

Running out of T1

The bike was a blast, but with the two loop course, the second loop was insane!! Two-thousand or so competitors seemed like millions as I zig-zagged my way through the masses. I rode up the hills well, and probably could have pushed harder on the flats, but as I mentioned, I definitely did some zoning!

A 1:11 bike split isn't horrible, but certainly isn't what I am capable of on a different day with things in place.

It was cloudy which was nice!

Finally, it was on to the run where I probably felt the best I have ever felt running. Why I didn't run faster considering that fact??, not really sure. That is probably the question everyone asks themselves. It is possible that I had some anxiety left from a crawling finish at St. Croix, don't think so though. I was running at a heart rate of about 180 bpm so that wasn't too high but my average mile was about 7:02, which is not that impressive. Either way, I was happy to see the finish line come into sight with a final time of 2:23:57 and a 3rd place age-group finish.

Enough about my day, two of my MAO teammates were in full effect that day and had amazing races. It was VERY fun seeing them out there doing so well. Beth Shutt, Olympic Distance Extraordinaire, cleaned up on the competition and swim, biked and ran her way to a second overall amateur female podium finish - Way to go Beth!! Lindsay Zemba (also in my age group like Beth), had a really wonderful race considering she just got her Kona slot at Eagleman two weeks ago. I'm excited to get to see her in Kona.

All in all, it was a good day and nothing to complain about. I am always excited to race, healthy and regardless of how pre-pared. It was fun, and I loved the atmosphere. My husband was with me through the 5 hour trip there (and we are still married despite me driving in downtown Philly), the race prep, early morning (4:30am) and the insanely long drive home. He's a saint.

I would never want to do well, if it meant I didn't have to work for it. This race proved that to me because I wasn't spot on my game. I didn't need to be on Sunday. I will need to be on October 11th. So, until then, I'm not going to get worked up. It's about perspective, training, consistency, recovery and then letting it all come together. Hopefully that day, victory will be that much sweeter because of it!

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