Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cort the Sport does Triathlon: Season Three

I'm about to kick off my third (THIRD!) full season of triathlon in two days when I race at the Appalachian Power Smith Mountain Lake sprint triathlon. It's been 6-1/2 months since my last triathlon and I feel a bit like the crazed race horse, ready to get into the starting gate and just GO already!!

After almost three years in the sport, my excitement and gratitude for it continues to grow. Part of that has to do with fighting through another pre-season injury and just being glad to be able to enjoy all three sports again. I've been running for a month, and this week I noted that my hip and glute were really off my radar, a sure sign that things are normalizing. The picture to the left was after today's short and quick brick. I was SO happy to be feeling good and strong and ready! I'd found the tri-top stashed in my closet this morning, and put it on for the first time in ages, remembering that I wore it at my first ever race. That got me thinking back, as well as forward, as I head into season three!

This triathlon "thing" started for me in 2009 when I did one "just" to try it out and see if I liked it. I started working with Coach Jim nine weeks before the novice-only race at Lake Norman in North Carolina. I was coming off of an injury (yes, even then) and pretty much got the accelerated course in swim and bike; I had about a year's running experience at that point. Well, clearly I loved it, and I set a goal of racing five events in the Virginia Triathlon Series the following year.

2009 - Lake Norman
My first full season in 2010 was really to learn the ropes, get some experience, and have fun. I did five events - three sprints and two Olympics. They were all open-water swims and the big accomplishment was moving up to the Olympic distance. That swim distance seemed very scary, and I still have a healthy respect for it! I had a successful year and set a goal for 2011 to race smarter and faster and perhaps improve my ranking in VTS and in USAT.

2010 - Luray International
In 2011 I did nine races including 6 sprints, 2 Olympics, and a half Ironman; that included a double-race weekend at Luray. Part-way through the season I signed up for Nationals which led to the opportunity to be part of the Endurance Films Racing Team. The 2011 season was about committing to the sport and taking chances. Doing a half IM, competing at Nationals, applying for the EFRT -- make no mistake, those were pretty bold moves for me.

2011 - Patriots Half

Looking ahead, I'd say 2012 is geared toward adventure and self-discovery. Adventure will naturally come with new-to-me races on the schedule, a return trip to Nationals (signed up for the double - sprint and Olympic), and the Team USA spot to ITU Worlds in New Zealand. This year, I want to learn how to get even more out of this body and this engine.

Over and above all of it though, I just want to continue enjoying the sport and the unbelievable feelings of "giddiness" that result from the training and racing. In a lot of ways, it still feels really fresh and new to me, and maybe that is the essence of what draws us to the sport. It is an endless source of challenge, reward, and yes, frustration too. But in a world that can become much too steady-state, it's those ups and downs that make life interesting.

I love the speed, the search for flow, the need for mental and physical toughness, the solitude, and the suffering.

I can't control who shows up on race day or what might come my way, but I can sure as heck remember why I am there. And none of my reasons can be measured, timed, or ranked.

Here's to a season of adventure and self-discovery!