This past weekend I raced 70.3 Timberman. And, for the first time in a while, actually felt like I was in a race instead of going through the motions. I have been having issues for a while now with self-defeating thoughts related to both training and racing. One of the things I have really appreciated about training and racing endurance sports is that you can let your mind be free of day to day thoughts and stresses and just focus on the task at hand. Until you can’t… ! During the months before Ironman Austria I felt myself getting more and more tired and performing worse at workouts despite getting in the time/volume that was prescribed in my training schedule. I found myself regularly wondering “why am I doing this?” and thinking “I’d rather be doing this instead,” and thinking “I can’t do this anymore. It’s too much, I’m not good enough…” and on and on. Triathlon is hard… and takes a whole lot of focus and commitment to be good at. So when this starts happening, it’s impossible to race as well as one would like. After Austria I decided I needed a change. It was time to change focus – I decided to switch coaches within QT2 Systems and to start focusing on half iron distance racing instead of iron distance. These two things were what needed to happen if I was going to stay in the sport and start loving it again!
The goal at Timberman was to race fast of course but more than that it was to find focus, to keep my head in the game, stay positive and have fun. As a professional triathlete it is so easy to get caught in a game of feeling like you’re not good enough. There can be a lot of pressure – from yourself and others. (As well as a ton of work! It’s definitely not as glorified as people think.) Coach Vinny told me to pretend it was my first triathlon ever and re-experience that excitement. He gave me some ideas to stay focused on my body during the race and nothing else. I did it… and that’s the biggest reason why I feel like this race was a success.
I traveled to this race with another local pro, Kristen Marchant, and my boyfriend Al who basically played race-sherpa and helped us with whatever we needed – a huge support to us. We met friend and teammate Amy down there and it was great to spend time with good people while prepping for a race.
Pre-race it was great to see a few fellow QT2’ers in transition to chat with and lighten the mood. As we walked toward the swim start I looked around and took in the positive energy. Tried to think about the great things that would happen that day instead of “I can’t swim fast enough right now” or “my bike power isn’t where it should be right now”… etc. I got in the water, warmed up, and actually felt great. The gun went off, I went out with the group and managed to stay with a few girls in the middle of the field. It was a strong effort throughout the swim. Into T1 – it’s always a good thing when there are a number of bikes still in transition! A couple girls got out of T1 in front of me… time to work on transitions! On the bike I was focused on pedaling. That’s it! Every time my mind started wandering I recognized it and brought the focus back to “it’s just me and my bike.” I managed to stay consistent from start finish, keeping heart rate where it was supposed to be and keeping rpm up when possible. I passed a couple of girls on the bike and a couple passed me. Through T2.. onto the run. This run is challenging – lots of long hills which can kill the legs if you’re not careful. Again, I headed out with an eye on heart rate and just worked to keep it where it was supposed to be – not worrying about what everyone else was doing, just running my own race and doing what I was supposed to do. I didn’t run my fastest race but I did run one of the smartest – by listening to the plan and not starting out too fast I was able to stay more consistent than others and pass a few girls in the second lap. During the run I was able to do the same as on the bike – as soon as the mind started wandering I was able to recognize it ASAP and bring focus back to my body – in a positive or neutral kind of way. I was able to push the effort a little in the last mile and come across the finish line strong.
As I said in the beginning this race was a success for me. Not because of my time or my placing. But because I was able to get my head in the game, keep it there, and feel like I was actually in a race instead of going through the motions and not sure why. Coming out of Timberman I feel motivated to keep it up, get stronger, get faster, and race again soon! There will be no more full ironman races this year – half distances and shorter only. The plan is for 2 more half iron races and maybe a running race thrown in there for fun. Time to lay down the hammer and get strong again!
Thanks to all those who support me in my triathlon dreams, including: Coach Vinny @ QT2 Systems, PowerBar Canada, Pearl Izumi, Quintana Roo, Base Performance, Normatec Recovery, Rick Choy and Reel Kool Products.
Until next time…