Friday, August 14, 2009

5430 Long Course Results - PASS!!

For all of you that have been eagerly awaiting a race recap from the 5430 Long Course in Boulder, here it is: I had fun. So based on my goals for the event, I passed. Yes, it was the slowest half-Ironman I've had in years. Yes, the altitude affected me more than normal, so every time I tried to increase my effort I felt like my lungs would explode. Yes, I think I was more dehydrated than I've ever been in my life (first time I've considered asking for an IV at the finish). And yes, Ryan, my Ironman protege, beat me by 7 minutes (nice job, Ryno!). But I had fun, and that was the goal.

It's really hard not to have fun when you're training or racing in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. Boulder is where triathletes go when they die. The really good ones live there already. For example, Chrissie Wellington was in the race, among many other outstanding pros. The reigning men's Ironman World Champion, Craig Alexander, was also there, but not racing. I saw him training during the race. About eight miles into the bike course, I looked over and saw him RUNNING. Yes, running down the bike course on highway 36. And I was only eight miles in, so I'm pretty sure I wasn't hallucinating yet. You hardly ever see pros of that quality in Rockwall, Texas. And by "hardly ever" I, of course, mean "never." Since I'm not going to Kona, that's the only time this year I'll get to race/train on the same roads as the reigning men's and women's Ironman World Champions. At least I did it once this year. Pretty cool.

I took the above picture while walking around at the race site the day before the race. This is the view that you have about 500 meters from the finish. Like I said, it's hard not to have fun when this is the scenery. The bike course is even better.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Arkansas to join some fellow Tri-Prosoapers (and my sister) at the DeGray Lake Sprint Triathlon on Sunday. Then next week, I'm racing in Rockwall at the annual Tri-Rock (another sprint). That will be three races in three states in three weeks. Should be fun. And fast. Like I said in my last post, time to get fast.

Friday, August 7, 2009

We Don't Get to Pick Our Bad Days

Sunday will be seven weeks since I finished my third Ironman--Ironman Coeur d'Alene. It will be seven weeks since I had the worst swim I've ever had in an Ironman. Seven weeks since I spent 20+ miles unable to shift into the big chainring. Seven weeks since 96 miles into the race my crank came off my bike while going 22 mph, which then caused me to break my aerobars and somehow avoid having the worst crash of my life. Seven weeks since I sat at the side of the road waiting on a mechanic to come make my bike ridable again. Seven weeks since I secretly hoped it couldn't be fixed so that I would have an excuse to quit. Seven weeks since the first time I've taken longer than 4 hours to run 26.2 miles (only one minute longer, but still, longer). Seven weeks since I decided that, for me, the reward of just finishing is not worth the sacrifice it takes to get there.

See, I've "just finished" three Ironmans, three years in a row. I'm tired of "just finishing." I keep telling myself (mainly because Lindsay keeps telling me) that it was only one bad day. And we don't get to pick our bad days. But when our bad day happens to fall on the most important racing day of the past three years, that does something to your confidence. Before I even finished the bike leg, I started wondering what all of this is worth. In order to race (and I mean, RACE, not finish) an Ironman you have to make incredible sacrifices to your other goals. I'm not talking about the sacrifices of everyday life that it takes just to compete in an Ironman. I'm talking about all of my athletic goals.

For example, I've never run the Boston Marathon. I've never done as much cycling road racing as I'd like to do. I've never made a 70.3 race an A-race. In fact, in the past three years, no race other than an Ironman has been an A-race. 70.3s are my favorite distance. But I've never focused on doing one right. Ironman makes you slower at everything. You can still be relatively fast. But you will never be as fast as you could be as long as your focus is on the Ironman distance. So for me, the rest of this year, and at least the first half of next year, is focused on getting faster.

The rest of this year is totally dedicated to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in November. I have no goals of winning or qualifying for anything. I just want to see how fast I can go. Lindsay and I will figure out a more specific time goal over the next couple of months. But for now, we're just focusing on making me fast.

Ironically enough, I leave for Boulder today for the 5430 Long Course Race, which was my "bad day" last year. Ryan is racing again, so I'm eager to see his progression. And my goal is to just have fun and gain back my confidence. No time goals, and no goals that can be affected by anything that is out of my control. My goal is simply to PASS. If I have fun and enjoy the day, then I PASS. If I get frustrated, angry, pouty, upset, etc., then I FAIL. Either way, it will be a good training day and a good time with a very good friend. Once I get back to Dallas, it's time to get busy getting fast.

I may still do an Ironman next year. But if so, I'm going back to Arizona in November. No Spring Ironman next year. That will give me lots of time to focus on speed before we start the long haul back to Arizona. And it will allow me to concentrate on that other race that I've been putting off for way too long . . . the Boston Marathon. Anybody want to meet up in Boston?

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