S - 30,900 yards (9' 50'')
B - 62.6 miles (4' 25'', 2 mountain bike rides)
R - 20.1 miles (2' 25'')
Time - 16' 40"
Today I'm going to compare this time in history over the past three years: 2011, 2012, and 2013. I think some people wonder what's changed about my approach since qualifying to race pro and live such a glamorous life. Well, succinctly: not much.
In 2011 I was just beginning working with Brian. Throughout the previous summer and fall we'd exchanged numerous (I mean, a LOT of) emails and by the end of the year we had begun our long-term relationship. Some say long distance coaching doesn't work, I use myself as a case in proving the fallacy of such a claim. Over the past two and a half years I've likely emailed with Brian more than anybody else. We're not much for phone conversation (but that's on me as I don't like talking on the phone very much) but the back and forth has been pretty constant. In some ways, he knows me better than many of my peers.
January 2011 began with a steady diet of swimming, biking and running to which I was unaccustomed. I knew in my head (because Brian had drilled it in and because I had become convinced, through further research, that he was exactly right) that more work over more time equals more getting faster and more hurting your competition (that's a Brian-ism if there ever was one) but that didn't mean I wasn't surprised by my 12+ straight weeks of ~20 hours or more! I was also training with a powermeter for the first time in my history as a cyclist. It was fun to see how many watts I could throw down in a max sprint but a bit disappointing to see that transitioning from a roadie to a triathlete (short term power to long term power) was going to take some time. I felt as though I was getting better every single day and my training paces/watts and racing reflected this. I set PB's in almost every imaginable way and it started in January. I was excited, I was motivated, I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing.
Fast forward one year to January 2012. Lots of things had changed. I had qualified to apply for my pro card by winning a race in October so I knew that in '12 I'd be racing as a pro. I didn't yet know which races I would be doing but who cares!!? It would be awesome to stand next to big names (albeit only at the start line). On the other hand, I was unsure of where I would be living. In December I had basically convinced myself that I was going to be moving out to California at some point in early 2012. So January was a mix of not being sure what each month was going to bring. In early January I spent a lot of time at home in New Orleans but also at the beach in Gulf Shores, trying to do some work on our house while training solo. Needless to say, I was in somewhat of a mental flux state. I was still excited, but I knew my approach to training wouldn't change. I don't think I could say that I was AS excited as I was in 2011, but it was close. I had ended the year on a somewhat down note at Beach to Battleship Half and some of my key races weren't that great. Ultimately, however, I'd performed at the one race I HAD to nail, the one where the pro card dangled. So in January all of this was going through my head. Would I perform up to my own high expectations? Where would I live and work in California? Who would I train with? What races are even out there? Is. it. worth. it.
Obviously, I didn't move out to California as I am writing this from my couch in Charlotte fresh off a great 2012 racing season. I lounge here, watching football, with a good idea of what's going to happen next year. With Brian's help and guidance, I'm working on my weaknesses (see 32000 yards of swimming above for how). With my friends' help, I won't get bored. With my family's help, I'll stay grounded. I'm tired but motivated on a level I can't say that I was last year. There is no doubt about where I'll be living. No doubts about where I'll be working. No doubts about whether I'm "good enough" for this (note: I say that not because I think I'm gonna be winning anything big anytime soon but because at the level where I am now, I can be competitive in whatever format I choose to race in, even if is the back half of the pro field and, to be honest, right now that's good enough for me). I recognize that this day, this week, this month, and this year is just another step in the process. Each day adds to the one before it and each week to the one before it. Week after week and month after month, fitness builds and speeds increase.
Ultimately, it never gets any easier. You just go faster.