Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How am I still doing this? Also, blog post #999

Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 51. The kids and I went out for an early b-day dinner, and as sometimes happens, our server asked if it should all be on one check. I say yes. We laugh. The kids humor me and say it's because I look young enough for people not to assume I'm their mom. I've raised them well that they say things like that, lol.

This is my 999th blog post. No kidding. It really is. It will be one of my quickest and least edited ones too. It's my birthday gift to myself - to write for me. I don't have much time for that anymore.

Here's a picture of me right this minute where I spend 99% of my time. Not really, but sometimes it feels that way.

I'm wearing a vest inside because I'm cold until June. Unless I'm running. Then I'm hot outside in a tank top when it's 27 degrees out.

I share my office space with the dog, cat, and often my bike. I'm fortunate that I spend my time here working in the endurance sports/event registration space, which I love. 

Wow so looking back, I've done 115 races since my first ever race in 2008. Tonight is the first time I counted them all. Of those, 67 are multisport events. Among them, I've run Boston, I've raced Olympic Distance triathlon for Team USA in Auckland, London, Chicago, and Rotterdam.

Honestly, it's hard to believe I did that stuff. I am doing that stuff. Still.
Still loving it!

As triathletes, we are supposed to know our reason "why" we "tri." But those are probably similar for a lot of us: to feel strong, to have community, to get outside, to be healthy....all that.

It seems more interesting to consider my how. How am I still doing this? How can a person enjoy training and racing for years on end?

Here are my hows:

Enjoy task completion! Give me a training plan and instructions for a session, and I will bring my all to it! I will make it fit in my day and I will embrace it. I am fed by that feeling of accomplishment (and an all-green TrainingPeaks calendar)!

Choose races to fit your life. Each year I put together a race season that I believe will best fit my life circumstances. Some years it might include 70.'3s, a century ride, or a marathon, and other years, like this one, it's all short course. My life is plenty long course enough at the moment and the college application process (for kid #1 of 2) has been an ULTRA-marathon. Too often on social media I see athletes (parents in particular) sharing how miserable they are training for what ends up being a one-and-done IRONMAN. Why? Do what's fun and works for you, and change it up! There are so many ways to keep yourself challenged and interested.

Don't waste time thinking about new gear you don't need. I still ride the used tri bike I got in 2010 (I also have an aluminum road bike I got off Craigslist), I've owned just two wetsuits (one was given to me), and I train in a bike helmet I got for free.  Have what works and take good care of it. You can spend (waste) a lot of time pondering and dealing with questions of gear. Spend that precious time training! Or sleeping!

Have a bad memory. I don't remember numbers well. I can't even remember my ballpark finish times for the 7 times I've raced the Smith Mountain Lake triathlon. If I've done my best at a race, I'm happy. I'm not mid-bike leg berating myself for whatever split I'm seeing. There are too many race-day variables with the course and our own physiology.  The one exception to my bad memory? I won't ever forget my 3:33:53 Boston Marathon finish in 2013.

Have a coach! I have worked with Coach Jim since June of 2009. I've said it a million times, I can't imagine doing this without him. I thrive with the structure, accountability, and challenge and appreciate having another person who frankly just cares - not only about my development as an athlete but my balance in my life. Through the loss of my dad, little health/injury things, job change, divorce - he's helped to keep me on an even keel with this outlet of sport.

Focus on what you are doing, not what you aren't.  Do I stretch enough? No. I binge-stretch a few times a year for a few weeks at a time. Do I eat amazing, mindfully-prepared meals all the time? No, too often I'm grabbing whatever is handy, as I run out the door. Am I focusing on my recovery and sleeping 8 solid, peaceful hours? Hahaha, right. What I AM doing is consistently swimming, biking, running, and sleeping/eating as well as I can.

Enjoy the feeling of a solid effort.  It's so funny but more often than not in training, and ALWAYS the morning of races (!), I think "I do not feel like working hard today." But once I get going, I just can't help myself. I really do seek that feeling of working hard, of pushing up against a wall, and chasing the person ahead of me - win or lose!

Be grateful. For ALL of it.

Sometimes I will think about what my life would be like without triathlon training, and I can't ponder very long because I don't like what I see. I know I wouldn't be very happy. Days would quickly get lonely and repetitive and overwhelming. I recharge and reset with the quiet simplicity of movement!

Oh, and if anyone is I don't have any amazing feats of swim/bike/run/gym planned for my birthday. My gift to myself is to NOT heap anything else on me. It's to slow down for the day, visit my mom and sister, and unplug as much as possible. I'm resting up for another season of racing. 2-1/2 weeks till Du Nationals!