Sunday, May 4, 2014

Awesomes vs. Less than Awesomes

I was super motivated to write this post about 2 months ago, but at the time I was forcing myself to prioritize school. Since then, a lot of awesome and some less-than-awesome developments have occurred, so my inner list of anecdotes have become overwhelming. I will try to share them as chronologically and briefly as possible.

Awesome: I started working as a coach with Mercury Rising Triathlon Club. Get this: MRT is based out of Victoria AND Calgary, so they are a perfect fit for me (My hometown is Calgary, and current home is Victoria).  I'm being mentored by the renowned coaches, Clint Lien and super triathlete Sara Gross, so I couldn't think of a better opportunity for getting started. This has been a really fun experience so far because I get to turn my focus away from myself and towards others' goals which is a huge relief. I am mainly doing online programming and subbing in at coached sessions in Victoria, so feel free to check out the MRT website if you are a currently an un-coached triathlete, who happens to be reading my blog, and are interested in joining a very fun and successful squad.

Awesome: End of February/beginning of March we went to Florida for a training camp with a couple of shake-out training races mixed in. 90% of triathlon Canada athletes seemed to be in Clermont, so it was pretty cool to get to join up for some massive Team-Canada swims and rides. Huge thanks to Tri-Quebec, Francis & Kyla R, for fitting us into houses with the Quebec athletes while we were there. It was a blast.

Elevate-Me oatmeals were lifesaving on the 6am flight & early morning race starts
Team Canada takes over the Clermont pool
Stoked to wear my Aqua Sphere suit for the first time in a while 
Not-so-Awesome: The races themselves were not so awesome. I ended up getting the flu the day before the Clermont PanAm cup race. I was awake all night with the shivers and body-aches of a wicked fever and stomach flu. I rolled out of bed in the morning thinking there was NO way I was going to race. I hadn't been able to eat much over the past 24 hours and was feeling very stomach crampy and exhausted. If it were world champs maybe... but with another race the following weekend, I didn't really see the point in putting myself through a public display of suffering.

In typical me-fashion, I didn't end up having the guts to drop out, so I mentally committed to just trying to have the best swim possible. focus on one thing at a time. I had the best start position of all time (right next to Sarah McClarty), so I had the opportunity to do something awesome. Awesome did not happen. My attempt at having a good attitude didn't last past my first few strokes when I realized how terrible my body felt. I spent the majority of the race wallowing in how absolutely horribly I was dying while steadily going backwards. I got to rest on the run because of a transition-box penalty, but it was only 10 seconds instead of the 15 you get in Olympic distance races. All in all, I was pretty disappointed in my failure to stay tough out there. A significant positive to this experience was that it reminded me that there is absolutely no-room for anything but a fierce and confident winning attitude in this type of racing. ITU racing is freaking fast.
Alex and I on the bike. Photo thanks to J5 Imaging
I went into the Sarasota PanAm cup, a week later, much more mentally prepared to race and much less pukey. I screwed up my start big-time though, and found myself on slow feet. It took me a little too long to notice when the two girls in front of me had been dropped from the Sarah-McClarty train, and a (seemingly) massive gap formed. I surged around them as quickly as I could, and spent the whole way back from the turn-buoy bridging that gap. I was really proud of my commitment because ever so gradually inching myself back up to the very quick front pack required a lot of self-belief and a significant amount of pain. I only latched on right as I came up to the swim exit. Unfortunately, I didn't have the fitness to maintain my effort and stay up with the leaders onto the bike and I soon found myself in the main chase pack. I then ran like a brick. I was certainly grateful to be back racing, but man was it an ego-destroyer! 
I knew very well that I didn't have any racing fitness going into these races coming off a gradual fall/winter, but I thought that maybe my old-self would make an appearance on race day. Sadly, no miracle occurred. That old-self is years gone. I've learnt to appreciate my health over the years, so after this race, I had to remind myself to be patient with my fitness as well. 

Awesome: The Florida camp seemed to finally trigger a huge fitness turn-around, and from then on I started seeing glimpses of being fast in swim, bike and run workouts. And I can officially say that this was my first winter of training since 2009 where I haven't had a serious winter-long injury.
Florida bosses
Not-so-Awesome: Despite no long-term injuries, my spring and winter have been far from consistent. Since consistency in training is my number 1 goal, this has been frustrating. After Florida, I realized that all the strength and mobility work on the planet couldn't help my biomechanics, and that I was going to have to start accommodating for my leg-length discrepancy after all (or else my coach would forever have to listen to my litany of left hip, knee and ankle jams, pains or strains (It's a 12mm difference by x-ray/scannogram, so it is on the line as a discrepancy that must be accommodated for)). Attempting to adapt to 3 bike fits over the past few months, and the corresponding lifts in my shoes, has resulted in what feels like a different mini-injury per week. And now, I am currently bogged down by a two-week long cold-turned killer-flu. Setbacks are always frustrating, but there is a great quote from a book by Dr. Saul L. Miller which describes how I have learnt to approach this sport if I am to be successful as a triathlete:

Much of the pressure we experience is in part a function of the way we feel about ourselves, and that we become more vulnerable to the limiting effects of pressure when we lack confidence and self-esteem. From this perspective, it is our fear, specifically our fear of not being okay, that pressures us into feeling stressed and avoiding failure. As we become more self-accepting and comfortable with who we are, we identify less with our goals and are less in need of having to achieve and succeed in order to feel better about ourselves. Less need means less pressure and often better results. That's not to say we shouldn't be motivated, set goals, and direct our behaviour - not at all! Simply, that it's healthier to work from preference rather than addiction (ie. I need this to happen in order to feel good about myself). - from Performing Under Pressure by Dr. Saul L. Miller (hopefully I won't get sued for that).

It's got to be fun man.

Awesome: Kirsten and Sarah-Anne's racing at WTS Auckland and Cape Town!!! Ooohhhh Mannnnnnn! Sarah's race in Auckland was probably the most inspirational thing I've ever seen. Did you see when Joanna did the most epic bridge up to front pack on the bike OF ALL TIME?? No one could stay on her wheel (ok one girl did, but I forget who that was). Jo finally latched on after over a lap and a half (I think) of hero-biking, and Sarah, without even realizing that another Canadian had just caught on, moved to the front of the pack and proceeded to shatter it. Half the front pack gone just like that. It was the most epic women's bike I've ever seen. And then Sarah ignored the fact that she had been walk-running all winter and lead the whole run up until the final surge & sprint.
 Lessons: Never deny yourself an opportunity just because you're not 100% ready. Believe in yourself (she knew she could run fast anyways because she runs track). And finally, ride your bike a lot. 

Awesome: Alex and I are being supported by CEP this year, which has been a huge help in training and recovery. We are also on team Tri-It again this year, and will be able to share discounts to their awesome online store in the near future, so I will keep you updated on that.
showin off my socks

Awesome: I FINALLY GRADUATED!!! 
Spring on the Island
Awesome: Alex and I went over to see Anthony of Level 10 Fitness at the gorgeous Fortius Center in Burnaby a couple of days ago. It was great. Anthony is awesome. My six pack is definitely coming along. 
Sunny day for our trip to Vancouver
An older picture of us and Anthony at Level 10. Pic courtesy of the Vancouver Sun
If you have gotten this far into the blog, then clearly you are a trooper. If you are also from Victoria then you are a perfect fit for our NTC training weekend that happens next week (May 10th &11th). We don't have any money to travel to races this year, but we do have an overabundance of training and racing knowledge to share, so we'd love it if you came out! Registration and details are here.   

Thanks for reading! 
- KC