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.