Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I was starting to write my standard (i.e. long/boring) race report for this race but I learned a few other things that I wanted to share instead.
In 2005 I started racing triathlons to lose weight. The more I trained and raced the faster I got. It was pretty easy and rewarding. I was pretty spoiled as I made some pretty big fitness gains quickly and had a few perfect races where everything just feel into place.
About two years ago things started to change. Suddenly I was a decently competitive age grouper and I was no longer seeing huge gains in fitness. Now I that I had many more people following and supporting me (family, friends, and sponsors) I put a lot of pressure on myself to continue to improve.
Somehow during that time it got into my head that I need to have everything go perfect at every race. Over the last two years, I've been so focused on doing everything so perfectly that I think it harmed me more than helped. When training did not go right, I would push harder instead of stopping to evaluate what I needed to change. In races, I would get upset or fired up if things weren't going my way and then make decisions that were not always the best becasue I was trying to chase the perfect day goals I set for myself.
I raced Austin 70.3 last weekend. It was a pretty last minute (for me) decision to do this after my disappointing day at IMWI. I did Austin because I wanted to finish my year on a good note and get a slot to Vegas (Ironman 70.3 World Championship). I had no idea how my body would do trying to peak for a 4th time this season and 6 weeks after IMWI.
The swim went fine and I did my now standard 31:xx 70.3 swim. On the bike, I felt ok but not good. Nothing was wrong but I could tell my body wasn't 100%. So, I backed down, something I am usually unwilling to do in a 70.3. Half way through the bike, a rider infront of me slide out on a turn and I went off the road and had a minor crash to avoid him. I was not injured and was able to get moving again pretty quickly. In the past I let small things like not feeling right and this minor crash get into my head, for example when I got the flat in Kona and mentally checked out after. This time around, I tried to forget about it as quickly as possible and just move on like nothing happened.
When I got to T2 I had another surprise, my T2 bag is gone. Ends up that the wind blew it to another rack since all I had in it were shoes and a visor and it was not tied. My T2 took 4:39 and I watched a handful of guys pass me as I searched for the bag in nearby racks. A great volunteer ended up finding it for me. In the past something like this would have also got to me and I would have either taken off to make up time or mentally checked out and figured my race was over as I couldn't achieve my goals. This time I didn't, I left T2, put my visor down ignored everyone and just ran.
When I started the run I could imediately tell this was going to be a tough one. My stride just didn't feel right and I didn't have any kick in my legs. I made the decision to ignore my watch and just run by feel. I tried not to think about the fact that I probably was not going to get a Vegas slot and not have a good race, and instead just did the best I could on the day. I ended up running almost an even split and while it was slower than I wanted I'm very pleased that I just got it done and never gain in or slowed down.
I was quite disappointed after the race. I was bummed because I felt like I had a bunch of bad luck in this race. I started doing all the what if math in my head and figuring out what my time "should" have been if I didn't get cut off on the bike or if my bag was in T2.
After I calmed down, I realized that this was probably my best race ever. I had two incidents that slowed me down and my body just wasn't feeling right but I just put my head down and got it done.
I truly believe that I had the absolute best race that I could have on that day given the situation and I am very pleased that every single thing that was under my direct control (i.e. my attitude during the race, pacing, nutrition) went completely perfect.
This race was a turning point for me as I learned things don't have to always be perfect and there is more to this sport then the time on the clock or where my name shows up on the results list.
I also realized that everyone has challenges on race day. I was fortunate that early in my racing career, I had a few perfect days where everything went exactly how I wanted, but that is not reality and I can't expect that at every race.
My luck turned around later in the day as I got the one and only roll down slot in my AG for Vegas.
My 2011 season is really over now. I feel like I have made significant improvements in both my training and racing. I still have a lot to learn but I'm really enjoy the process and I love a good challenge. I'm fired up and ready for 2012.
Thank you to the Corso family for being wonderful hosts in Austin. I enjoyed spending the weekend with you and really appreciate everything you did for me. Also, thank you to Jake and Molly for all the support from Zoot and hanging around with me in the 90 degree sun waiting to see if I would get a roll down spot.