Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Racing NOW vs Racing THEN

One of the "cool" things about having a blog for such a long time and writing in it with fairly regular and predictable frequency (in some ways, one could compare my blogging to the predictable drudgery yet equally predictable relief of a morning movement!) is that I have a reliable history when I want to look back and examine something.  If I am curious about how I felt about a race (or even during a race) I can go back and read that entry. If I am curious about how bored I was in the "off-season" I can go back and look at how many blogs I did from December - January and get an accurate representation of just how bored I was.

Bottles on the FRAME?!?! Gross.

What I am using my blog for currently, however, is comparing my mindset when racing NOW versus when I first began triathlon back in 2009 (way back when).

For example, at White Lake 2 (as a sidenote, remember when there were two weekends of every race? Talk about quantity before quality!) that year I was signed up for my third triathlon ever and my second half ironman.  Most of my friends were doing the race and when most of your friends are pretty good triathletes you think that you yourself are a pretty good triathlete, purely by association (whether true or untrue).  A 4:30 sounded like a nice goal. I don't know why, but it sounded like a good number.

Maybe akin to the way people want to "bike an hour for a 40k" or "break 3 for a marathon" or "start a blog." It sounds a lot easier than it actually is.  Because saying something is pretty easy, relatively speaking.  Doing it is not.

At White Lake Half (2) I did or used a lot of things I have since forgone as I became more "experienced" and "wiser" (and, presumably, "faster"). I used HR quite insistently (I did not have a powermeter at the time, let alone two).  I took salt tabs (mainly because everybody did). I used mph as an indicator of effort.  The "custom coach" jerseys will all over the place (including on me) as this was before the days of teams in Charlotte.

So many things were different. I had no idea what I  was doing. It was awesome. I ended up with a 4:34 or so, I believe.  In hindsight I am surprised it was that "fast." Because I really was a complete newbie. Learning from others, using their methods, taking their advice, trusting their methods were at least tried and true, etc is a great way to get started and move towards attaining your own personal goals.

In 2010 I did a lot of the same: what everyone else was doing. I signed up for Louisville. I probably trained completely inappropriately for my actual fitness/ability levels and the year was a bit of a blur. I don't remember specifically a lot of the races I did but the big ones were NOLA and Louisville.  I think at NOLA I set a PR and was 2nd AG (25-29 back in those youngling days) but did not do Clearwater because I hoped to qualify for Kona at Louisville (obviously did not happen).  I COULD go and read the blog entries for that year, but I have a point to make.

I think I do, anyway. The point is somewhat vague and unclear.  I think I am trying to make the point, albeit in a very roundabout way, that I am really excited for next year and racing in the M30-34 category. It's been a really fun 3 years of racing as a "pro" (although I only did 5-7 pro races) but I never really got to have an AG "career." Most people that are kind of "adult pros" (i.e. they weren't on some development team or national level junior team or a D1 swimmer/runner or on the ITU track, etc) follow a somewhat predictable path. They race locally and get really good locally. They then branch out and basically win everything regionally. Once that's done they start to be relevant on the national scene. On the national scene they start winning their AG no matter the race. Then they turn pro. The time period for all of that is relatively unpredictable, obviously.

But take Jenny as an example (although she was a D1 swimmer so this is somewhat out of line with my statements above). Starts triathlon after swimming. Has some hits and misses.  Then, after a couple of years goes undefeated in North Carolina for more than two years. Competes in Kona (goes sub 11). Wins AG at various 70.3 races (plus top amateur).  Then, goes pro.

I never really did any of that. The races that were "supposed" to be that for me were Augusta in 2011 (I sucked), AG Nationals in 2011 (I was mediocre at best) and Beach 2 Battleship Half (I was mediocre).  So I didn't really get to prove (mostly to myself) that I SHOULD race as a pro, despite qualifying for my elite license that fall.

Sometimes I think people assume I have a blog because I have something to prove. For the record, that is not why I have a blog. It doesn't mean I am vain, or looking for social approval or some kind of "look at me" validation of what I am doing.  Just...for the record.

It was extremely cool to be associated with the real pros in our sport. To walk to a start line with a P on your calf and have the more casual triathletes (who don't - surprisingly - know who James Haycraft is) at races associate me with Michael Raelert, Starykowicz (the real one), Richie C, etc.  They don't know me or who I am or what kind of speed I actually have but because I am racking next to those guys (and gals) I must be similar, right? It's definitely a cool feeling. Having the cleanest courses, the first swim waves, the best rack positions, special considerations, etc was definitely nice.

But now it's back to the beginning.  Starting over, in a sense. Now I am competing against all 30 - 34 year old males.  I am excited about that. New Orleans 70.3 and IM Louisville are the two "big" races I have planned for next year (though I have not signed up for either).

It's time to go back to the roots of racing.

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