I just completed my 5th Cranberry TriFest Olympic Distance Triathlon. To keep things neat and tidy, I finished 5th in my 5th (and final) year in the 45-49 age group.
Each time I race, I learn about myself: how I make choices and how I feel about the outcomes of those choices. I’m pretty sure that this and the fact that the learning opportunities seem to be endless are what keep me racing.
A little piece of relevant history… Back in the beginning of July, after 4 weekends of racing each weekend, and after thinking a lot about my training and the mental fatigue I was experiencing at 5am when it was time to wake up and train I made a a conscious, out-loud to Jason choice:
“This summer, I’m just going to have fun and enjoy swimming and biking and running. I’m gonna ride on the beach, run without a watch, and just swim with my friends at the reservoir – maybe the pool once in a while.” Long pause…
“And please remind me that this is the choice I made in August when I’m wishing I made a different choice at Cranberry.”
It’s been a delightful summer. I’ve had great open water swims followed by chatty runs with friends. Jason and I rode so many gravely, sandy, grassy miles on our CX bikes. I was a little sad when I had to wipe spider webs off my TT bike for a local sprint at the end of July, so a weekly TT bike ride got thrown in. I ran hills one day for fun and a lot of beach, off-road miles. I enjoyed every minute.
Although I worried that I’d lose fitness, the reality was that I never had a week with fewer than 5 workout days, many days included bricks (because I like them), and off days meant long beach walks with the pup. I stayed very fit. In many ways because of the off road miles and resting when I felt like it – I felt healthier and much less injury prone. My morning workouts just made me happy and set me up for a great day with work, with friends, with everything.
I didn’t lose my fitness – I did however lose some speed. And we’re back to the race story…
Cranberry was a great race. The swim was a wetsuitless, hot, shallow, 2 loop, pond scummy mess. And I found myself entertained by the chaos. It was on the bike, when I was trying to push a speed that I probably could have held back in June that I started wishing I could undo my choice and go back in time.
When training regrets creep into your race, flatting is almost a promise. Not that your tire will get punctured, but you feel like it did and the whole race feels flat and frustrating.
I was right there, when a flash of words flooded my brain:
Would you rather have some excuse or rationale for a race outcome: Sick last week, got a flat tire, missed a feed, had to sneeze when the winning attack went, or even just that you lost your nerve that day when it got really hard (yes, this happens). With that, you can forever clasp onto the worrystone-mantra of “I could have won, if only…?”
Or, would you rather honestly know you had ridden a race to the very best of your strength and ability, know there was nothing else you could have done and have that be…not…quite…enough?
Mara Abbott’s thoughts following her courageous 4th place Olympic finish had clearly made a lasting impression and became my mantra for the rest of the race. I would ride to the best of my present strength and ability and let go of the energy wasted on rationalizing anything. And thank goodness, because it was such a more pleasant way to race!
I raced hard. I gave all I had. I’m sore today and I was slower.
And to further emulate, Mara, I’ll be really honest (as she was) and share one more thought I had when I finished …
Yet here is what I will always sort of wish I had:
A podium spot.
The day after, I’ll tell you without hesitation that I wouldn’t change a thing about my summer. It turns out you can still be pretty speedy when you do what makes you happy, play and share joy. I’m thankful that Mara’s story collided with mine when it did.
And thanks to Sun MultiSports and all the wonderful volunteers for a great race!!!