Life has returned to normal around here. I believe my body has rejoined the rest of my solar system as I’m feeling pretty good. It might have been all of the rest. Or all of the coffee. Or shopping. Or the 100 other vices I seemed to pick up in less than 7 days but at least I’m back to being myself now. A vicier version but myself nonetheless.
Last week I did my bike test, my swim test and then I got to do the run test.
I LOVE TO RUN!
I didn’t think too much about how it would go, I was just excited to feel good enough to give it a chance! I had only run twice over the course of 2 weeks. And then I had my run test at the track. I warmed up and felt great. Then I set out for the test. I went out for the first 400 at a pace that was way too fast and I kept waiting and waiting for the burn to set in and…it never did. I just kept going. Sure, I slowed but my legs felt great. And, I’m really really really now convinced that deep recovery and rest are the best training a tired body can do because I ran the fastest mile of my life. EVER.
How do you top that? You go out and ride on Sunday and have one of the fastest solo training rides of your life. It feels like the road was cleared just for you. You keep thinking – there’s no way this will last then you find you have pushed it 10 minutes more…and more. You have one of those truly magical rides where it feels like the wind is at your back the entire way.
Can it get better? Sure, it will. I’ve had three swims this week and each has felt better than the one before. I did a brick last night and aside from the 100 percent humidity it felt damn good. And there is still more work this week to do. There is still room to grow. There is an open water swim, a group ride, and….and…..a race this weekend. Yes, coach gave me the ‘ok’ to race. As you can see – though – this is not a taper and be fresh race. As coach said, it’s like a training day where people are handing out Gatorade. When I thought to myself but I don’t like Gatorade I also realized that it was time to give that and all new things a try.
I was hesitant about “just racing” because that’s just not my…style. I usually put a lot of energy and thought into very few races each year, go there to bring it and get good success. It’s a formula that used to work well for me. But now I’m a different type of athlete. And it requires a totally different mindset. I’m starting all over again and don’t have the luxury of drawing from my past mastery. That’s because in the world of pro triathlon it’s like I have never raced. These are different races now. I can’t just show up to a few races and expect it all to come together. There are different rules, there are new competitors, there is a whole new energy – one that I need to learn how it flows.
And so I’ve realized this less important race will be very important practice towards becoming the best version of my new self. I need the freedom to make mistakes, to learn about pacing, to take risks without the cost of blowing my “big” race. I need the room to learn and grow. And I need to set different types of goals. Gone are goals of finishing in a certain amount of time or placing in a certain position. For this race I have to completely separate myself from the outcome and focus on mastery of the process – MY process – instead. That will be my measure of success. That is my new goal.
I was given several process goals. Ok, more like a dozen. If I remember half of them I will be amazed. Plus I have words to remember - consistent, solid, strong and safe. I was also given direct orders to treat this as a very valuable exercise in data collection and not a race. Which means I will be bringing along my friends Power Tap wheel and Garmin. Too bad my disc wheel is already in Maryland with my bike. So if they charge me to carry my PT wheel on to the plane I’m going to shove it in someone’s mouth. And as a warning to airline staff – that wheel is not very clean. As for the Garmin – I’ve only raced my first half Ironman ever back in 2001 with a heart rate monitor. Damn thing beeped at me for over 5 hours. I had no idea how to make it start or stop beeping but for this race I’m turning my Garmin on quiet mode. Even still, there will probably be no beeps. Because I have been given heart rate caps and been told not to take any competitive risks. If I go over my zones I am convinced coach will slap me through the phone next week and fail me at my process goals.
I don’t want to fail my first test.
I am also trying new nutrition. My nutrition plan usually works very well except in the past few races where it has left me running behind some trees. Or in the case of Kona just simply squatting alongside the road. So I’m shifting things around to see if we can delay any run off and squats. I have also found that avoiding too much fiber and eating only white things in the days leading up to a race help. Of course when I tried that I also didn’t crap for 3 days but if that’s the price I have to pay it beats squatting alongside the road. Nonetheless I will consider it a miracle if I can remember when to put what in my mouth plus my heart rate zones. I think by the end of this race my body will hurt less than my head.
As you can see, I’ve learned a lot in the past few weeks. About what it takes to be a professional and more importantly what to expect as a “new” pro. Where I have been as an age grouper gave me much success but now it’s time to start again. It’s time to reconstruct myself, to create a completely different mindset. So I have to completely reconstruct my head. The physical training is important but it is nothing compared to the perspective, values and expectations I must now have in my head about racing and myself.
Sunday begins my first day to take on these new goals to start building up a new kind of success. There is a new process to master and about that I couldn’t be more excited. It’s like the first day of school again. I’ve got my pencil case, Hello Kitty notebooks, the new roll of scotch tape that I can’t help but sniff, a Hannah Montana lunchbox and a whole new wardrobe. I hope mom packed something fun for lunch but I’m thinking assorted gels and salt tabs are all that I’ll get. And as for my new teacher – so far I think he’s pretty cool.
But he sure gives a lot of homework...