It's been a while...
Balance is a tough thing in life; a little too much on one side or the other and things can really get thrown out of whack. Add in some anxiety about it all on top of that and things really start to get interesting.
The 2012 race season started off exactly as 2011 went - ROUGH. Ironman CDA seemed to be the low spot for me. Physically and mentally I just wasn't where my training showed I should be. I left the race not knowing how the rest of the season would go or what direction I would go. I wasn't performing and wasn't enjoying it.
I packed things up and headed back to Wisconsin. Over the next 4 days I thought about what I stood for, how I wanted to live my life and what triathlon was to me. What I realized is that life to me is like a 5000 piece puzzle. The pieces sometimes don't seem to fit, we can't seem to find the boundaries (edge pieces), we get frustrated, but we push on because we know what is possible...we BELIEVE it is possible. All that we have to do is come up with the right strategy and plan of attack and what we sought out to do, will be accomplished.
That was when I decided I needed to get back in the saddle, asap.
Hurdle 1 - Feel good physically at a race. CHECK
The next day I entered a local race. Not really caring about who was racing and having my times from a few year's back when I was on fire, I was only focused on hitting my targets on the bike. I showed up, went through the motions on the swim and then finally hit my target wattage of 330w over 26 miles and about 75min of riding. Not only that, but I felt good doing it...
Hurdle 2 - Stay strong mentally when things aren't going well. CHECK
After a great, tough 8 days of training, I headed to Racine 70.3 for what I thought was going to be a good event for me against a tough field. I was training well going in and felt good. However, 3 days out my AC broke and I missed an entire night of sleep. No worries, I thought, I can make up for this.
For me, a tell tail sign that things are slightly off and I am tired is that I wake out of a dream to my alarm on race morning. Typically if I am rested, I am antsy and waking up every so often in anticipation. No such luck this time... Either way, I didn't think about it and headed down to the race site.
After a good 15min of warm-up in the water, i found myself on the beach, lined up with Craig Alexander to my left and Daniel Bretscher to my right. Two guys I wanted to get out with. Cannon goes off and all is well to the turn at 200m. Then...the world just swam away from me. Wish I had a reason, but I don't. I just wasn't swimming well. Oh well, $h*t happens.
Onto the bike I knew I could make up a lot of time here if I felt good. However, I got on and things were not good. I struggled to hit Ironman wattage as I rode past the 20 mile mark. But, this race was not only about the physical side of things, it was about not giving in, even if the body wasn't doing what I asked of it. The 90km ticked by and I saw a normalized power of 275w, significantly lower than my typical target of 300-315.
Despite a lackluster swim and bike, i got off to the cheers of a ton of BBMC athletes and supporters. I smiled and went off, settling into a rhythm in the heat. I knew that a top 5 was long gone, but wanted to push, no matter what my watch told me. I went through the half way in about 40minutes...which sounds slow (relative), but it was a few minutes faster than most in front of me. I continued on for loop 2 and it seemed that the entire world was folding in the heat. I ticked on and my splits weren't that much slower, however I stopped at every aid station, so i gave about 10-15sec per mile up to get down 3-5cups of the PowerBar Perform. A rule that I have in the heat is to drink almost zero water. Everything I put in, needs to have electrolytes.
I finished up and to my surprise, I was 8th. Not a podium, not a good day physically, but a day where that 8th was entirely due to just moving forward, one step at a time.
Hurdle 3 - Putting it all together.
So now I have 7 weeks to my big race of the year; Ironman Wisconsin. I have taken two necessary baby steps in order to now take a big step beyond where I finished here in 2010. I am 100% healthy across the board, have balance, have a great coach, the support from entire community and motivation.
It's been a tough 2 years for sure, but the tide is changing and so is the way that I approach this sport. I am lucky to have a gift and passion, I am lucky to have admiration and the support of so many, I am lucky to have perseverance and an undying desire to succeed...now it's time to get to work, to lead by example, to get my fitness above where it has ever been and to get my head so strong, that nothing can derail me in September.
Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting and thank you for believing. The future is bright...