I am just reading Heather Wurtele’s race report and I want to take her first lines to start mine as the time leading up to Oceanside was a rather turbulent time for me.
“It is hard not to want to explain things. I think that a pretty basic element of the human condition is a need to feel understood. “This is why…”
Heather is a triathlete I particularly look up to because she is my height. It is easy to victimize yourself to factors beyond your control. Heather shows me that height is not a limiting factor to being fast. And she is right, it is hard not to want to explain things…
So let me explain:
Triathlon is a hard sport. It is physically taxing. It is mentally draining. It asks for sacrifices and for setting clear priorities. You can’t set priorities without a “Why.” Once you loose sight of your “why”, a domino effect of declining performance awaits and it is a steep climb towards the sweet spot for the grind that requires sheer willpower, determination and discipline to get back to.
The foundation for race day:
I had such a domino effect leading up to my first big race of the season. About 3 weeks before the race I had hit an absolute physical wall.My mind wanted to go, but the body didn’t. This was the week leading up to the Stanford Sprint Triathlon. The week after the race I was pushing at about 50%. I was dragging. I was not a pleasant person and my world seemed to crumble brick by brick. After a conversation with Matt about what I was feeling physically and mentally, he put me on another 72 hour full rest. This was 5 days before Oceanside. I watched the entire 4 seasons of “Girls” over that weekend, but I had no guilt for vegging out completely. I ate well, gave my body the rest it wanted and just accepted this for what it is and not turn this into another existential believe crisis.
That said, going into a 70.3 with almost 2 weeks accumulated rest does not make for a very “fiery internal feeling” for race day.
During my 72 hour rest and between the couch marathon I was clearly winning at, I thought about the “Why.” I took the time for myself and dug deep into why I want to push so hard in this thing called “triathlon.” The thing that never let’s me rest, the thing that makes me always want to be better, faster, leaner, more aero, more efficient, more everything.
I re-discovered that the sport and the lifestyle embody my values. I value hard work and earning your achievements solely for putting yourself in the driver seat of your life and working hard to get yourself over that mountain towards the finish line, only to find that there are many more finish lines up ahead. I value sincerity, honesty, discipline, transparency and the ability to acknowledge when change needs to happen when whatever it is you are doing no longer works for you. I value treating my body with respect, fueling it correctly, listening to it but also pushing the limits. After all, when I get to the final finish line of my life, I want to know that I used this body to its fullest potential. I value “taking leaps of faith” towards whatever my hearts desire is. As a child I always believed I was capable of something great. Although I am only recently developing the confidence to go after that believe. Sure, this can easily be misunderstood as a type of megalomania. But let’s not go there. Mediocrity is not for me. This is not about achieving a certain time, or certain pace or power average, this is about the dedication I put towards my goals.
A first happened! I not once believed that I could not cover the distance. In previous races there was always an inch of doubt. This time, my motto was “DARE.” Dare to go hard and push hard. Somewhere inside I wanted to get Top 15 in my age group. Although again, my primary focus was process throughout the race.
As the race unfolded:
I knew I had a bad swim. I had a wet suit mal-function that led to an open zipper as well as very deep chaffing cuts under my arms and neck. I estimated that about 20 girls were ahead of me. I knew transition was long (0.4 miles my garmin measured). The moment I got out of the water, I knew this was a Zone 4-5 opportunity. I sprinted that T1. My apologies to any one I bulldozed over, but I had my bike to get to, mountains to climb.
Bike: Knowing I had about 20 women ahead of me meant I needed to chase them down. One by one I went after any female that was ahead of me. My mind was playing the theme song of Jaws: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCfWHqrYUqo with the image of Paul Buick and Matt Dixon on their scooters behind me. Question now is: Who of us is the shark?
It was up until mile 52 on the bike that I caught up. I ended up with the second fastest bike split, coming in at: 2:41:20. From now on, this is where I will always finish, top 5 in the bike. I am that kind of cyclist, and I will not accept anything less of me when the bike mechanically functions well.
I experienced some quad cramping on the last miles on the bike which had me slightly worried. That said, I believed it is a mental thing and a temporary thing, and so I focused on everything else that was feeling good.
Run: First three miles went superbly. I wasn’t feeling smooth, but I was running 9 min pace, which was all I could ask for at this point in time. And then there was Red Bull. Oh Anna. Why! I took the first shot, it was ok, 2 miles later, I took another shot, at this point, my stomach decided to turn on me. I experienced really bad intestinal cramping. so instead of only walking the aid stations and inclines, I now had to walk whenever the cramps got too bad.
My pace unfortunately dropped. I still ran 12 minutes faster than last year, even if the only plan was to crush the bike. I was not feeling the heat, nor was I sweating all that much, although post race I was covered in Salt. Which was a first.
Crossing the finish line:
I was hurting. I pushed my body to a new limit and I was feeling it-more than ever before. I took recovery serious. Ate an entire bag of broccoli, a bowl of Kashi cereal with almonds, consumed salmon and whey protein, used my Compex Recovery tool and finished the day with a big steak and a glass of red wine. 20 hours later I was back on the bike feeling recovered, albeit with far less power in my legs.
My lessons learned!
- I need to make a race morning check list as I had forgotten the fuel I needed to consume 30-45 minutes before the swim start. This may have contributed to the second I lesson I learned.
- Just because they are offering Red Bull on the run course does not mean I should be grabbing one, or two, or three.
- I can’t judge my gears in the water. I am a diesel engine and swim slow in open water.
- I am capable of riding hard without sacrificing my run ability all that much.
- My run off the bike is improving.
- Keep up what I am doing; ALL of it is working.
My 2015 Plan:
With my discovery of the sport and my values, I continue to grow as a triathlete within the limits of time and ability and build my business INTENTIO, into a fitness and health brand that stands for helping individuals create a sustainable lifestyle change through a 360 degree approach.
Although I felt dialed in calorie wise, I need to figure out the cramping. This is not the first time it occurred. Next race, I don’t want to experience cramping in my stomach again. So future plan, stick to water for fluids and the Cliff Gel for fueling on the go.
Bike Power: There is far more I am capable of. This is only the beginning. DARE to push harder.
Run: Keep up the work. Continue to value recovery and treat my injury prone areas with the upmost respect.