I had an argument with my coach several weeks ago. I told her to #HTFU and tighten the screws and let’s turn up the heat. She told me to take a chill pill and follow the plan as prescribed.
I told her I wanted to do the next workout based on how I “feel” and not by watching the heart rate monitor and that I promised to do walk/run intervals. You may have seen me discussing how my workouts were frustrating because I have to stay in Zones 1 and 2 for the majority of them and I wasn’t seeing the progress I felt should be happening. I had been training in “Zone 2 ” for weeks and while I can “keep going” for miles, I wasn’t getting my speed up or gaining any sort of distance out of my workouts. The way I see it, that is a problem if you are training for a long distance race……and my race was quickly approaching.
My stubbornness won out. She acquiesced (and rolled her eyes) and off I went. It felt so good! I ran and ran and never looked at my Garmin (didn’t even wear my heart rate monitor). I was tired when my timer went off (I train by time, not distance) and I looked down and saw that I was at 5.2 miles and I REALLY wanted to try for 6! The farthest I had gone to date was 4.5 miles. So, I kept going until I got 6. FINALLY. I saw distance!!! I discussed my frustrations with a couple of seasoned runners/more advanced coaches and they advised me to ditch the heart rate work and work on a plan to focus on pace (you’ll learn more about them a little later down the trail).
The difference in the last few weeks of my training has been night and day! I started getting distance, having more fun, and felt optimistic that I COULD be a better athlete. Changing tactics was too late to salvage my Beach to Battleship quest, BUT I intended on continuing my training and see what kind of distance I could build up to over the next few weeks and I decided to attend a no time limit half distance triathlon in the hills of Middle Tennessee.
This past weekend, I attended Shad’s IronHeart with 20 other athletes (from those that have never participated in a half distance to more seasoned athletes on Team USA). The majority of us met at a training camp one year ago this past weekend! Let me tell ya, that distance SUCKED and I LOVED every minute of it. I woke up on race day EXCITED to get started so I could see how I would perform. Never, have I ever, been NOT nervous for a race. I took my time and enjoyed the scenery around me, took as much time in transition as I needed, cheered on athletes as they were passing me on their second loop while I was still trying to get through my first bike loop, played with farm animals along the way, stopped traffic to help a snake cross the road, and even stopped and chatted with the neighborhood kids that wanted to know what I was doing out on those back roads of Tennessee. No pressure, no performance anxiety……just me vs. me.
Now, don’t get me wrong……a few times during that race I contemplated taking up macramé or Origami as my new hobby/passion and wondered what the hell I was doing out there. It took me A FULL HALF MILE to settle into my swim before I could get a natural rhythm going and when I reached what I was certain was Mount Everest on the bike and couldn’t make it up that sucka……I wondered if I should call a taxi to haul me back home to the land of the flat coastal plain. On more than one occasion out there I loudly stated to no particular person around me that I made a better VOLUNCHEER than I did an athlete. Gemini’s talk to themselves quite a bit…..in case you didn’t know.
But then I remembered that “we can do hard things” and that I was the one that wanted to tighten the screws so I convinced myself to go a little further and pushed on. It was a vicious cycle that I endured until after the sun went down.
Witnessing my fellow athletes and volunteers pushing and encouraging each other to finish was my highlight! One participant finished her race and THEN went back out for ANOTHER four miles to keep another triathlete company out on the dark course. I will forever carry with me the look of excitement and accomplishment on every single person out there that day!
I wanted to get a taste of what the half distance was like and BOY, did I get a taste! It totally cured me of wanting to do a full distance any time soon (hello 2019)! My next race is supposed to be Beach to Battleship, but I know I am still not ready for that due to not being able to make the appropriate cutoff times (unless I completely revitalize my bike speed in a week, HA) so my next official triathlon is Ironman Gulf Coast in May 2018 and I sure as hell WILL be ready for that one. Heck, I have a little over a week before B2B….this Gemini may change her mind and go at the last minute. One thing is for sure……it will be okay if I do go and it will be okay if I don’t……and there is something empowering about that badass mentality; being able to keep your eyes on your own paper. This summer of training taught me so much about screw tightening, readjusting, reassessing, and learning how to #sufferbetter to reach MY goals and improve over time as an athlete.
As for my coach this summer, I talked to her all the way back home from the race to let her know I had to move on with a different training scenario for 2018 but that I sure appreciated what she tried to do for me this summer. She understood and said she was proud of what I had accomplished so far and that she would be returning to the world she knows best, voluncheering and encouraging other athletes. Since she resides inside the same body as I do, I thought it best we remain amicable, HA! #Gemini
Certain sacrifices will have to be made in order to reach my lofty 2018 goals. Shifted priorities, revamped nutrition, off-season endurance work, and hours and hours dedicated to going the distance. I am sure it is going to suck and I will love every minute of it.