It's been interesting watching Christine race and being engaged in her races and who she has racing. It's a departure for me, as I usually really only care about myself. Historically, anyway, I am very selfish when it comes to racing. But over the past year I've watched her and her competition and a few things have stood out to me.
1) Women are significantly tougher than men
Now, those women out there who read this will not likely be surprised by the statement. But all the dudes out there who read that in shake their head in disbelief, I feel sorry for you. On the whole, women kick your ass up and down the [triathlon] block.
Sometimes I feel like the last 5k of a 70.3 run is pretty tough. It hurts, I'm whining, I just wanna be done. Then I imagine pushing a human out of what is essentially my butthole and I'm back to reality. I don't have it that hard.
2) By that same token, women are much more likely to f*** themselves up from training than men
Maybe in part BECAUSE women are so tough, they seem much more inclined to treat training a little differently than men do. For example, if I don't feel that great or I don't hit my watts, I just kinda whine a little bit and either change my workout or just stop; explaining to my coach that "I didn't feel that good." The thought of Christine doing this kinda makes me chuckle, because she - like most women - will dig super deep to nail workouts. Sometimes it's detrimental. Maybe it's not "worth it" to use those little bits of toughness that you have stored in your lady genes in certain instances?
I think most coaches would agree that you tend to treat women differently from men. Men you have to encourage and mollify all while appealing to their ego and/or insecurities. Women you just have to hold back and help them not do too much damage.
There are a few women that have been on Christine's radar at most races over the past year. They are very fast and historically near the top of the female age group field. But for almost this entire year, a couple of them have had serious injuries. Injuries serious enough such that they don't race or they blame a bad race on these injuries. Even more interestingly, at least two of them are coached by the same high profile coach. When they are "on" they are VERY "on" but the downside appears to be injured and poor performances.
So the moral of this story is: it's better to be smart, consistent, and slightly back from the "over-reaching" line while maintaining an extremely tough mental focus but not at the drawback of added emotional stress all while pursuing racing at a high level!