Thursday, April 18, 2019

Du Nats and What I know about racing after 10 years

Preface: I have no business writing right now. I am so tired, and I should be in bed, but I just need this. I need the luxury of some time spent in my own words, to slow down, and be. Why so nutty now, you ask? Well, I'm moving across town in 12 days, after 15 years in the same house. I'm excited, and it's my dream retreat home, but as my work teammate who is also moving described it, buying a house and moving is like having another job. In the span of two weeks I will have two houses sold (my mom's and our house to my ex) and one bought. I'm packing and counting down the days, and yes, still working and training in the midst, albeit the training is scaled back. I'll share more after closing is done. It's hard to believe it's really happening.

So despite having a lot going on, I made the trek to Greenville, SC last weekend to race Draft-Legal Sprint Duathlon Nationals. I wanted to go and get some experience racing that style since I am going to Worlds for the Draft-Legal Sprint Triathlon in September. Between other life responsibilities and a hamstring issue, I was not in any sort of peak condition, but I had 10 years of consistent training to draw on so I wasn't worried. It was a short race of a 5-kilometer run, 18-kilometer bike and 2.85-kilometer run.

The brief race report is that I found myself in the first run behind a woman one age group up (Geraldine Lupini, F55-59) who was running my pace and she seemed consistent and disciplined. So I tucked in behind her and just focused on keeping up. A duathlon is not won in the first run. I was amazed that my hamstring seemed to be a non-issue. I ran a 23:10, not stellar for me, but decent considering. Then Geraldine and I took off on the 3-loop bike course and the fun began!! Without really saying a word, we traded off pulls and we rode really strong! It was mainly just the two of us then we were caught by Jocelyn Shilling (who went on to win F55-59) and the three of us came off the bike in close proximity. I paced off of Jocelyn for the first bit of the second run then pulled ahead to finish. I won F50-54 by a mere 12 seconds. I was thrilled and I had SO much fun with that style of racing. It was really nice to do something different! (And yes, I'm the same person who was very opposed when sprint Worlds changed to draft-legal.)

It was nice to see my name in the USAT article about the race!

Some pics from the race:




Behind Geraldine 

I swear we traded off, but here I am behind Geraldine again! 

 Starting run 2 behind Jocelyn

With Geraldine post-race

VERY happy to have finished 1st!

At Fluor Field for awards


The whole experience just got me thinking about my racing now vs when I started 10 years ago and some of the differences.

What has changed:
  1. I don't bother getting nervous/excited until maybe an hour before. I just don't have the time or energy for that anymore!
  2. After 10 years, I am confident that even if I have a "bad" race, chances are it'll still be pretty good. I trust myself.
  3. I used to pack my pre-race meals and be super disciplined about what I ate. Now, I don't pass up the opportunity to enjoy a great local meal the night before. I do this for fun, it's not my career!
  4. I now know that arriving 30-40 minutes before transition closes is plenty of time. I don't "need" 90 minutes like those early years!!
  5. I know not to fret about needing extra layers unless it's below about 52 degrees F. That threshold is different for racing than for training.
  6. I've learned not to judge myself while racing. Did I feel like I was having a winning race at Du Nats? Not really, but I stayed positive and pushed on and was on the right side of that 12 second gap. Race happy, race hard!
  7. I'm a more patient racer now. I know the danger of pushing too hard and going to the "dark side."
  8. With a very few exceptions, I have little interest in the professional race photos. They all start to look the same.
  9. I don't take myself so seriously. I race my best on the day and it is what it is. There's always positive aspects to every race, and things to learn from every race, but they are just things, they are not who I am. 
  10. After Nationals last year, I learned to always take a nice change of clothes just in case I end up on the podium!!

What hasn't changed?
  1. Even after 10 years the sport does not get boring. There are always new variations, venues, distances, and formats. 
  2. Race morning I never feel like racing and I feel lazy and sluggish. I just accept that's part of how I am and I ignore it.
  3. Once the starting horn sounds, the body and mind know what to do, and in the moment I most definitely enjoy it.

I am taking a little break from racing for May and part of June. I want to get settled in the new place, enjoy the summer with my boys, rest, refocus, and ramp up training for Lausanne in September. 

My goal is to slow down my life, and speed up my racing!

Many thanks as always to Coach Jim and Sherpa Bryan :-)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Thank you, friends!


Today I enjoyed my longest ride in ages - just shy of 60 miles (6700' of elevation gain, ouch), with a big chunk of those shared with a friend, Desen (pictured). We hadn't ridden together before, but we immediately clicked, and it felt good to work with her across the miles. It's nice to ramp up the training again and notice some fitness returning after my least consistent winter ever.

Less than four weeks ago my mom passed away - maybe you saw my post. We'd known since late November that she had just a few months to live with metastatic brain cancer.

For most of my adult life, I talked to her nearly every day (sometimes twice) just to chat about the goings-on of life. She was a wonderful advisor to me. That's gone. At least in the way we used to do it.

But in the aftermath I have felt friends "circling the wagons" for me, especially those in my triathlon/running/cycling world. They've been ready with hugs, encouraging words, ears to listen, and just as important - they've been there to swim, bike, and run with me.

Triathlon (and running/cycling/etc) is a community of survivors and thrivers - those who push through challenges whether it be a major life change, illness/injury, or even just getting out of a warm bed for an early morning session.

During tough times I keep training as I can, and I encourage others to keep training through their tough times too. Dial it back and give yourself flexibility to adapt, but keep going. It's not just for the physical and mental benefits, but for the community.

Last week I really struggled. I think my efforts to be strong and keep everything going - work, family, all the paperwork and things related to my mom's passing - it all caught up to me and sort of boiled over on Thursday. The last thing I wanted to do was go to Master's swimming, but I went. I told my coach I was having a really rough day. It felt really comforting to just be in close proximity to my friends, to chat and share the workout. And darn if I didn't swim pretty decently. Afterward, our coach asked me, "How do you feel now?" I of course felt much better :-)

My mom was part of a community of lifelong friends forged through tennis (many of whom I've enjoyed catching up with over the last few weeks.) I can't imagine my life without the friendships that have blossomed through the sports I enjoy.

I just want to say thank you for every kind word, text, message, email, card, phone call, and shared workout. Thank you friends. And thank you Coach Jim, who has lovingly coached me through so many challenges throughout the last ten years. He always seems to know just what I need.

The sweetness of life comes from connecting with and loving others.
That's all that matters.
That's everything.