I realized the other day: I’ve done three triathlons this summer thus far… and aside from updating my results page, I’ve not actually written about any of the races here.
Last year, after Pumpkinman, I made the decision to hire a triathlon coach to help me this year. I knew I could do the distance and loved the training, but I needed someone to help me tweak my training to help me better my results. I hired a great coach who juggles a family and job and training himself, who gets that things need to be shuffled because of Life Tetris sometimes. And he made some immediate changes: more time on my bike, less running, and all of my training is done by heart rate.
Because longer distance races are primarily an aerobic exercise, this year, we are focused on building my aerobic base. Therefore my runs and bike rides and swims are all done at a fairly comfortable pace.
And I LOVE it. I love this training so much, it gives me such joy to swim in this absolutely awesome pond near my house… and bomb down hills on my bike, riding through some beautiful, wooded, quiet small towns… and run my country roads. Triathlon allows me to work out every day, which is exactly what I need to keep me mentally happy and balanced. It’s been great.
I’m seeing results, too. I went into my half iron distance race in June hoping to break 6 hours, expecting to be between 5:47-5:50 or so. My time for that race was 5:43 – faster than I expected. And I felt good most of the race (it always gets hard at the end, no matter what).
And in the past two races I’ve done, I’ve placed: I took second in my age group (AG) at a sprint last month, and 3rd overall (OA) this past weekend.
Third. Overall. Woman.
That, right there, is the part that I’m having trouble accepting – It boggles my mind that I’m placing at races.
I started running 6 years ago, knowing that I wasn’t particularly fast – even at my fastest, when I was hoping to qualify for the Boston marathon, I wasn’t fast enough to win races. And I’m STILL not particularly fast. And I’m not really a super fast swimmer or cyclist either. I’m OKAY at all of them, but not fast enough to win on their own.
What I am good at is consistency and focus. I love this stuff and want to learn more about it, and I’m fascinated by the psychology of racing – how to manage the anxiety of race nerves and how to keep my center when it gets physically really hard and my brain screams at me, trying to incite panic. I love the process of getting better at something – having a plan, following it, seeing how a test result plays out (aka: a race), then adjusting and tweaking and seeing how THAT works. It’s playing with plans, and it’s really fun.
I’m a little over four weeks away from my last triathlon of the season – I’m doing Pumpkinman again. I do not expect to place in this race – last year, the winner of my AG did her half in just over 5 hours. I’m not there. But I am hoping I can shave a few more minutes off my overall time, and keep the process going of getting better and better at this stuff.
We’ll see how it goes.