Wednesday, November 14, 2018

2018 Season Recap

It has been a while since I have taken the time (or had the time) to sit down and reflect. I tend to be more private when it comes to the specifics of my daily training and work-life balance. I do this not because I am secretive, but because my daily life is really not that exciting. I do not participate on Strava or share my PB's with the world because to me, it isn't really that amazing and I prefer to keep the focus on myself and setting my own personal goals. I have struggled with comparison in the past thinking that I needed to do what other successful athletes do in order to be successful myself. What I have learned, is that everyone has their own trajectory and that each person needs to find an environment that works best for them individually. A happy athlete is a fast athlete and a happy person lives a good life :). Overall happiness does not come down to life achievements; it instead involves a multitude of factors such as the influences around you, your attitude about life, how you rebound from setbacks, the environment you live in, and your overall balance (physical, social, economic, mental, spiritual, etc.)
I definitely live a different lifestyle compared to many of my competitors who are fully submerged in high performance daily training environments in which triathlon is their "job." I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado with three roommates (who I am lucky to call my closest friends) who hold full-time jobs. I am sure they think I am crazy to be doing what I do, but they support me. I work 25-30 hours a week at Keysight Technologies, a company who I am truly grateful for because I wouldn't be able to pursue my athletic endeavors without them. My coach, Ken, and I have found that less is more, and there is certainly a point of diminishing return when you add in the extra "junk" volume. Quality workouts over quantity of training has worked well for us, and has enabled me to progress well, while maintaining my physical and mental health. Yes I do still have a social life and time for activities outside of the sport. This in itself keeps me balanced and gives me a healthy life perspective.
 Keysight "family" hike

that time my roommate, Caryn, convinced me to do a Ragnar this summer :)
Last season was my rookie season, so I needed all of the experience I could get. This season, we decided to be more selective with my races and to instead stress the importance of consistent training and increasing my overall strength and durability in all three sports. At times the training was monotonous, but I have made an effort this season to keep it fun by training with people outside of the sport and swimming with a masters team who works hard but enjoys the process (maybe too much sometimes) :-p I think we forget at times that we can choose our friends and we can choose the people we train with and whether we enjoy the training or not. I choose to surround myself with positivity and to be a positive person. We certainly don't do this sport for the money...

I tend to be the kind of athlete who takes some time to work into my season and get comfortable. I started out the season with average results. We saw the improvement in my swim times in the pool, and it translated to some races, but it has been hit or miss. I did execute certain aspects well in each of my races, but couldn't seem to string a solid race together start to finish.

A few months into the season, I began making the lead pack at the continental cup level (not necessarily consistently, but I was close or at the back which was better than before). I found myself on my first ITU podium in Magog at the CAMTRI race. I repeated with another podium in the Montreal CAMTRI a few weeks later. This momentum gave me the confidence I needed to keep at it. Salinas World Cup was my second career World Cup, and though I had a swim which put me in the main chase, bad luck with a penalty in T1 quickly took me out of the race. Instead of getting too down about it, I decided to hold onto the positive improvements and to accept the things out of my control. The final race of the season was the ultimate test of everyone's motivation and fitness. Because we were smart with my race schedule, I felt fresh and ready both physically and mentally. I unfortunately had one of my worst swims this season, exiting at the front of the chase pack and not demonstrating where my swim should have been given my fitness and times in the pool; this was an execution error in which I settled on the wrong feet. I think confidence and commitment in a race setting on the swim will take me time to nail down still. I didn't give up and worked hard to hold the gap on the bike. I ran my way up to a 4th place finish in hot conditions (with the 2nd fastest run of the day) and I missed the podium by 3 seconds! So close, but not close enough. No excuses; more work to do.

What I have learned and accepted this season is that racing is exciting because every race and every day is different; it comes down to luck, consistency, and who can put it together on the day. Racing wouldn't be exciting if we knew who was going to win before the race, would it? I have learned more from the not-so-good days than I have from my successes. The bad days have given me the wake up call I have needed to expose my weaknesses and to work on them. I have also learned that I can perform well, even if I am not necessarily having a good day; the race isn't done until it's done. I feel I am having less "ah sh*t" moments (as my coach calls them), and learning from those moments to not repeat the same mistake the next time.

I feel this season what has been different is I am learning who I am as an athlete and what makes me tick. I am learning to doubt my own doubts and to control my mind as best I can. Most importantly, I have a new-found love of the sport and the overall process with the big picture in mind. With this mindset, it takes the pressure off of daily performance and simply motivates me for daily consistency and long-term success.

How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

I get asked the question "how do you stay motivated in the winter?" quite often really. I am human, like everyone else, and t...