Leading up to the race:
Just a week before the race I had hit the infamous training wall so many athletes hit. It is a common physical and emotional reaction towards heavy training blocks or after a big race. I had all the typical symptoms and this made for a very grouchy Anna. I realized that I have much to learn in this category. My thoughts mirrored more an existential breakdown and questioning the reason why I am alive, rather than just admitting to feeling tired and then giving my body the rest and sleep it wanted.
Albeit a small race both in size and distance, executing the plan for this particular race remained important to me, regardless of how I was feeling.
The plan was the following:
If I only feel 70% that day, then I will get 100% out of that 70%. See it as a test to turn the machine on even if it struggles getting started.
Don’t let the foot off of the gas. Push forward and push hard. Run hard off of the bike.
The water was cold and muddy and yet it didn’t faze me. I enjoyed the “warm up” which felt more like a “cold up.” I had a blast and simply enjoyed every moment. I didn’t think about my bike for once, I didn’t think about getting to the shoes.
I swam and sighted often, then got out and ran for it. Again, it didn’t occur to me that we had 0.5miles to run to T1. The body was told to run, so it ran.
The bike felt awkwardly short. My hamstrings started complaining because I had done so very little this passing week. But instead of lingering on that feeling, I just said “shut up, keep going.”
I dismounted and found myself with really high foot speed running to my transition zone. “wow, awesome” I thought. I put on my shoes, and continued the same cadence. I was on a 7:45pace all of a sudden. This never happened, barely even in a bench mark test run.
I came in at 1:13:14. 3rd in my Age Group and 4th Over All. This is the second race this year where I solely focused on process and trusting my training and surpassed, by far, my own expectations.
Besides the obvious “it is time to start believing more” and “you are your own limiter” something occurred to me.
I must develop more confidence that I can complete the longer distances as well. At the swim start I never once thought “can I actually swim this distance without stopping today?” Same with the bike and the run. I knew I could hammer through for that distance.
This is where the challenge starts. I have to start developing more confidence in my ability to cover longer distances at the appropriate intensity and have similar mental strength to cope with niggles and diverging thoughts.
This is a process that takes time. Confidence is not built over night but it is earned.