Happy Friday! It’s official – there is nothing summery left in northern Nevada. It was 48 degrees this morning as I was rowing in our garage. Mmm! Delicious!
Race season is over and done. THANK GOODNESS. I just wrapped up a trail run with my wife, which happened to be hosted at one of the most secluded and gorgeous beaches at Tahoe, I might add, although its identity shall remain a secret for its own protection :D Regardless, it was a wonderful end to the season, and now I can settle back into mountain biking, weight lifting, trail running, home projects, and some video games. Whahaha!
One of the most frustrating things about racing is that far less is in your control than you might think. You can control attitude and preparation, but that’s about it. You can’t control who shows up, you certainly can’t affect the weather, and there are a billion other factors that are wayyyy outside of your sphere of influence (traffic, flats, Acts of God, tummy issues, etc.). However, that is also what makes racing so incredible. Preparing for a race is truly a project that needs to be managed, and come execution time, you have a hundred different risks and issues to manage and overcome on-the-fly.
You get to line up, put yourself on a razor’s edge, and figure out how you’re going to give 100% for that day, that time, and that place. Whatever you have available should be what you are throwing into the pot. What occurred in the days, weeks, and months before doesn’t really matter. Sure, you should have done more of this and less of that, but the moment of test and trial has arrived, and you must decide whether to rise to the occasion or toss in the towel. Hint: don’t ever toss in the towel unless you are seriously hurt or hurting. Some of the most challenging races, where I felt like I was unprepared or had nothing to give have revealed the most about myself and offered introspection in its purest form.
I have never been to Santa Cruz when it was both warm AND sunny. It was a sign that our trip was off to a fantastic start! After a fairly unpleasant 70.3 in Santa Cruz for 2017, my wife encouraged me to get it together and pursue another race at the same venue, just to see. The bulk of my training had prepared me to be in tip-top shape in May and June this year, and I’d be lying if I said it was easy maintaining drive and fitness for an additional three months. It wasn’t – and many days, I chose the shorter bike ride or did only half of the track workout instead, but that is a piece of racing called “life,” and it has a strong influence and sway over us.
In 2017, the race was cut about 15 minutes short (hacked swim) and my total time was 4:34. This year was the full enchilada, and I zipped in right under 4:40 by six seconds. That certainly made up for my disappointment from 2017, which has been hereby called the Porta Potty Pursuit xD
My bike time this year was my only disappointment, only because I threw down a 2:31 (still very pleased with that time) but the much harder and hillier St. George I destroyed in 2:29 this previous May. But that’s OK, my bike training was way different this year (I have plenty of things to address for next year), and a headwind on the way out to the turnaround was absolutely brutal.
My joy was rooted primarily in the run at Santa Cruz(note: I’m never overjoyed about the run). I was all over the map last year, but this year I ticked off the half marathon at almost a near-perfect 7:00 paced half marathon, plus a few tiny breaks and a large hill. Pleased would be an understatement – I was stoked! So thankful my wife encouraged me to come back and take another stab.
Those were all good things, but my primary joy was being out on the course with my friend, Bill, attempting his first 70.3, which is no easy feat when your last triathlon was 3-4 years ago :O Talk about dedication! Not only did he figure out how to survive the swim, easily the most intimidating of the three events since it was in the ocean, but he cruised through a 56 mile ride, and floated through the 13.1 run. Super proud – what a stud! Frankly, I would have found it horrific feeling completely unprepared for an event that long, but not only did he show up, but he excelled! Such a cool experience, which brings me to the lesson for the day…
Patience and persistence are not solely a matter of preparedness, but rather, a combination of mindset and sheer willpower as you pursue the unattainable.
Yes, of course, I can’t will myself through a marathon without preparing, but there are times when the going gets tough, and you either call it a day, or you figure out how they heck you’re going to make it another quarter mile. I simply use triathlon as the embodiment of this example, only because after 12 seasons, I’ve experienced almost everything I can during a race – joy, frustration, anger, relief, pain, and pure jubilation. All of the emotions – all in one place.
Completion time aside, and let’s be honest, no one but you gives a hoot about how quickly you finish, it’s trips like this that really make me appreciate what I’ve got. Yes, physical capability to be outdoors and competing in activities, but in addition, a supportive wife who loves going to these events, and a stepson who wouldn’t miss high-fiving me out on the course. I saw them so many times this go-round, and each time it was a joyous interaction because the three of us were all having a blast. It helped that I was feeling 100%, but the fact that they were there enjoying as I was there enduring just made the whole thing spectacular.
This was my 12th time completing a 70 mile triathlon, and in contrast to the first that my friend was scratching off his list, I couldn’t help but be in awe, not only because of the guts that it takes to grind something out like that (well under the cutoff, nonetheless), but for the single-minded determination and purpose that that requires.
Choose a goal and a greater purpose outside of yourself, and it will keep you on the straight and narrow when the world gets noisy, when life gets tough, and when you feel lost and that you are wandering. Triathlon is just one of the many, many coping mechanisms that we can reach to, but never lose sight of the support that matters: your family and friends. They are, and should be, our purpose.