I’ve been feeling a little out of sorts lately with regards to training. Physically, my training has been going well but mentally I’ve been running circles around in my head. I’ve been thinking very existentially about racing. Why am I doing this? Why do I bother? Why are we all here? Why? WHY? WHY! Not to mention all of the thoughts on how this first 70.3 is going to end. Am I going to lose to an octogenarian? Am I going to be the slowest person of everyone I know? Am I going to shart my pants at mile 8? It’s pretty maddening actually.
Last Sunday I decided I wanted to do my long ride alone. Sixty miles. Han Solo. Just me, my bike, and the trail. I had various reasons for wanting to do so. Primarily, I wanted to see if I could do it. I figured if I could ride sixty by my lonesome, I could ride fifty six during Augusta. I’ve been riding with a group so much I thought it was a good idea to see where I was speed and strength wise. And I was also getting tired of pulling up the rear. I know, I know, woe is me. I know the group I ride with doesn’t mind but again, my silly mind games have been wearing me down.
I started early but the group caught up to me at the turn around. I told them sorry for being a jerk but I wanted to finish the ride alone. I’d be lying if I said that miles thirty to fifty were easy. I’d be Pinocchio if I said miles fifty to sixty were easy. I heard some strange whimpering at mile fifty-five and I’m fairly certain it was coming from me. Now I understand why they make all of those chamois (AKA BUTT) creams. And yes, I’ll be buying it at a wholesale club and taking it out to my car in a wheelbarrow.
It’s stupid, I know, but sometimes being alone and not coming in last on a training ride (or run for that matter) is what a person needs. Or at least what they think they need. I finished this ride with sore legs, a chafed ass, and the knowledge that while I’m still not as fast as I hope to be, at least I know I can do the mileage. I also learned that I fuel much more efficiently by myself. This is because I don’t worry about getting dropped if I slow down to eat or drink. Baby steps.
Since I started a new job this week and my tri coach* has also been very busy, serving our country and what-not, we hadn’t had time to email about last week’s training. I gave him a call last night after my evening ride got rained out.
The back story on my tri coach, Navy Steve, is that he’s a facts and figures guy. He’s analytical to a scary point. He can remember PRs, race splits, race times, etc for almost everyone we know. I’ve called him after a run when my Garmin died and told him how long I ran for and how far and he’ll calculate the pace. In his head. In like a minute. This is why he is a great coach for me. I suck at the maths**. And the figures. And the analyzing.
Tonight I called him with the intent of discussing the maths. And the facts and the figures. But as we chatted, I found myself asking him if he ever got to the point where he started questioning his racing. And why he raced. And if I knew I was never, ever, going to win, why would I keep doing this? I also told him that I’d been letting the type A part of me take over and comparing myself to others. Keep in mind that Navy Steve is a phenomenal athlete and someone I look up to in terms of being a very well rounded triathlete. He’s obnoxiously kick ass in all three disciplines.
He let me know that he of course asked himself those questions. That everyone does. And that sometimes we need to change our goals. He said it’s one of the things they teach in coaching class. The fact that if you always look for a PR you could end up disappointed and not be happy with what you did do. He related it to himself with his quest for the FLIM this year. He raced it last year and had a great day. Unfortunately, he’s being deployed shortly, and it will severely limit his training. He’ll be back in time to race but he’ll have to change some of the goals and may not be able to PR over his FLIM time from last year. He also mentioned that since this is my first 70.3 I should be excited, not overly concerned with time.
There’s a few things going on here that I’ve been thinking about. First, yes I know I need to stop comparing myself to others. It’s totally ridiculous. No need to chide me on that. And yes, I need to make goals that are more important than “time specific” goals. I did this for Top Gun and it worked really well. Second, I am also aware that most everything he told me was in my brain somewhere. I just needed to hear it out loud from someone I respect. Third, I AM excited. I cannot wait to get that 70.3 magnet for my car! I remember thinking how insane a half ironman distance race seemed. And here I am. About to toe the start line. Finally, this is yet another lesson on perspective. Navy Steve is getting called to serve his country and unlike someone I know (ahem, me) he’s making new goals and being fluid and taking the good with the bad. Sure I may not be running how I want to right now, but I’m biking a hell of a lot better than I ever expected.
I don’t want to lose the love of the sport and if I have to write a post just like this one year after year, then so be it. I am guessing that you could go back through this blog and find this post or one just like it. Only it’s about the marathon. Heh. I know that a lot of us get to this point. I’ve seen it in the blogosphere and discussed it many times over with friends. It’s worth thinking about and it’s worth discussing because even while most of us do this because we’ve got a bit of that addictive drive and a healthy dose of competitive spirit, ultimately, we do it because we love it.
Today I’m thankful for my awesome new job, chamois creams, the fake word “maths”, and coaches. What are you thankful for?
*I have a running coach too. He’s also awesome. Yes, I’m a prima donna.
**I can’t add worth a shit but I can spell like Mr. Webster.
I am thankful for my coach as well. I had a minor freak out yesterday that I wasn't riding correctly. I was seeing people riding so much faster than me and I couldn't figure out why I wasn't that fast. She grounded me and assured me I was doing things correctly. I think we all freak out right before a race. Yes, this is your first Half Ironman but it isn't your first race. You are competitive and know what you are capable of. If you are like me, you are looking forward to that automatic PR but also am curious as to what that first PR will be. Loved this post as I am right there with you!
Very nice, open, candid post. No worries your feelings will pass and there is nothing wrong with a training day alone from time to time. Shoot, as a self-coach 98% of my training is a alone but it can serve as good barometer to see where you are at mentally. To see if you can push through for YOU. I've had similar thoughts to yours the past 8 weeks but I'm slowly coming out of the fog. You are not alone keep on keeping on!
You're a strong woman. I'm pretty sure you can do ANYTHING you set your mind too. I think it's a great thing you set out to do those miles alone. I know if I said to myself.."I think im going to ride 60 miles today" that would make me "the king of wishful thinking" 😉
I'm thankful you got me to push myself AND that your tri coach IS my running coach. Look for far I've come because of you two! Finishing is winning Bethie 😉 xo
I'm thankful that I've never been last! Just kidding, this was a insightful post……..
You have no reason to doubt yourself. You have worked extremely hard to be where you are now and I am going to bet my lunch you wont finish last. You are right about everyone doubting themselves at one point in their racing lives, but just remember to enjoy what you have and will accomplish. Thats a big win in my book!!
I wish I had a running coach. I think I would take running way more seriously if I had someone to tell me how to fix everything I do wrong
That Navy Steve, he always knows the right things to say. 🙂
I call it BPD – Bipolar Posting Disorder. You love some things and feel bad about other things. Mood swings? what mood swings? Keep your chin up girl.
My coach is the greatest thing I've ever done for myself. She's not just awesome about the training, but for life.
OMG lady you are super awesome! And you shouldn't doubt it for one second. You are the most dedicated person I know and you will be great in Augusta!! 🙂
you rock lady…
I too am struggling mentally this week…but tomorrow is a new day, and for that I am thankful!
I am thankful I have some ability to help and coach people, and that I have always been very good in math! And that all of my coachees are perfect!! 🙂
i always feel super dumb/lame for being drama when i hear about what other's go thru (ie deployment for one!). it is good to get that perspective as well as to have someone tell you what's in your own head 🙂 i feel like i owe navy steve a month's coaching fee for this advice… don't always have PR goals- i never thought of this before, but def felt the pressure i put on myself. (well you know, back in the day when i actually worked out)
I think we've all had those thoughts at some point in our training. Sounds like Navy Steve is an awesome coach! I am also thankful for the chamois cream and a more comfotable saddle!
Even though we're training for different races (and sports, really), I've been doubting myself about my abilities to toe the line next weekend. Reading this has made me feel better because it's ok to have doubts. It means that you're pushing yourself to do your best.
He's right about not being hung up on time you know and yet I understand your turmoil because we naturally do it to ourselves.