As athletes, it is easy to always want more. I was reminded of this at the 2012 Olympic Games when hearing reports (and pics) of athletes who appeared disappointed for 2nd place (silver medal). I'm sure for us "normal" people, we would be elated for a medal at the olympics - heck, even just the chance to watch would be a winning moment for myself
But oddly enough, I think we can all identify with the feeling of putting it the work with only one goal in mind. For that goal is the driving factor for every training session - the great ones where you wish the race was tomorrow and the ones when the mind and body were arguing like a bad relationship.
But for us, we aren't going for a gold medal but rather a personal best, a finish line or overcoming the odds. Although we may not be as athletically gifted as an Olympian, if it wasn't for "wanting more" perhaps we would just settle and call it quits.
I think we can all learn something from athletes who can express their feelings in a way that it is both inspiring and motivating. For the athlete who is "dissapointed" with second place is thinking to her/himself - "How can I get better, stronger and faster for the next time?"
Knowing that many athletes are grateful for the opportunity to be able to do what they do (whether it is a 5K, Ironman or an Olympic performance), we must remember that with ever great performance and with every not-so-great performance comes the ability to reflect, move on and do it all over again....but even better.
How many times have you finished a race and have been disappointed in the results? Whether you hoped to be faster, place better or if you are comparing it to old times/results, athletes can put so much pressure on themselves to forget about where they once where but also, where they can be in the future. Knowing that many athletes will put in the work, it is with this thinking that no matter the place, result or experience, you can reflect on more positives than negatives in order to learn and move on to something greater than you ever thought was possible.
After work at the hospital on Friday, I headed a mile down the road to the Lifeguard Building to pick up my packet for the Hammer Head Ocean Marathon. Karel told me he wanted to do the 2.5 mile distance (as opposed to the 1.25 mile) for a confidence builder so I signed us both up.
We woke up around 5:15am on Saturday morning and left for the beach around 6:20am.
My only "training" for Saturday was the open water swim since this has been a challenging week and on Friday at swim practice, I could feel my body getting tired. Although I don't believe in "training races", there are very few opportunities for us here in Jacksonville to have a lifeguard supported open water swim so this was a "race" I couldn't miss. No need to taper before the race, however I considered the toll the 2.5 miles in the open water would take on my already-tired body and considered it a perfect way to change up my normal bike+run Saturday workout. I also realized I had nothing to prove to anyone after the race that I could still bike afterwards. Knowing that evey training session comes down to "what can I get out of this?", the swim was all that Karel and I needed that morning. And what a swim it was!
We kept our pre-training/swim sncks simple (oats, PB, milk, banana slices) but made sure to stay hydrated leading up to the start - considering that swimming continuously for over an hour means no hydration and no calories. That's quite a toll on the body.
I took 2 Hammer amino's before the race and 2 hammer endurolytes. I sipped on 1 scoop HEED before we boarded the buses at 7:30 for the point-to-point swim.
I had a FIZZ for post race from Hammer.
After we arrived, we picked up our chips and got ready for the open water swim (Karel's longest distance since the Olympic distance tri of .9 miles and his third ever open water swim).
Not quite a transition area and certainly a lot less stuff -my TYR speed suit, COOLA sunscreen, body glide, vanquisher speedo goggles and swim cap (provided from race packet).
We boarde the buses and Karel seemed cool and collected. I tried to forget the not-so-hot swim from Fri and reminded myself that it's all about what you can give for that day. I finished the workout on Fri w/ a smile and felt like I gave a good effort and certainly, finishing that swim feeling tired (as expected considering the past 2 weeks) was the perfect moment to let Karel know that I will be taking 3 active recovery days next week (Mon - Wed) to allow my body to recover with 5 more week left for Branson 70.3. I believe for my body, I do best with a 2 week "on",1/2 week "off", 1/2 week higher volume training plan rather than the typical 1 week recovery after 3 weeks of building. My body recovers quickly but I also train really hard so I need to make sure that even with my normal Mon of rest, I still need additional recovery after I go hard for 12 out of 14 days.
We traveled 2.5 miles down the road to the swim start. The water was refreshing but a bit on the cooler side for August in Florida. There was a large group doing the 2.5 mile swim and I saw a lot of familiar faces so it was a really relaxed and laid back environment. I suppose that's the style of the true swimmers - a bit too relaxed and comfortable at times.
In picking out those true swimmers, they were ready to show off their swim skills. As I powered up my garmin 910XT and set it to the open water swim option, the announcer was starting the 3 minute countdown. After the airhorn alarm went off, I made a straight shot to the first of only three buoys, made a left turn around the buoy and starting the loooooong straight swim to the pier.
With only 1 buoy on the course, I can only laugh at my garmin file. Nothing close to a straight line.....more like the look of mountain tops from a distance.
There was a mix of being around people to being alone and a lot of mental talk to keep myself distracted from looking at my watch. To make sure I didn't get overwhelmed with the distance, I didn't look at my watch until we reached 1.25 miles and then I hit the lap button: 34 minutes.
I felt good for the first 1.25 miles and decided to pick it up a little bit. I hoped for more of a push with the ocean (wishful thinking) but it seemed like the closer I got to the last buoy, the harder the ocean was to catch the water.
With lots of sighting, I felt like I was getting no where.....I kept thinking to myself "where is that stinkin last buoy!"
I tried to think about my stroke but when I looked at my watch and saw 1 hour, I became concerned as to how much longer I needed to swim until I got to the finish. I wasn't tired but with no 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run ....and no shiny Finisher medal, t-shirt and massage post-race, this was only a swim w/ no Ironman Finisher to boast about. Surely another accomplishment but 2.5 miles is a long way to go and from my Garmin, this was longer than was predicted.
Finally, I could see the crowd at the beach. YES!!!
Errrr, that stinkin buoy was not in line with where I was swimming so I had to swim against the current to make the left turn around the buoy and then to swim home.
I enjoyed the little push of the waves to bring me to shore and I sprinted in the water to finish the swim and to run up to the mat to stop my chip.
Ok - I'll take it. Not a PR but a great swim w/ no Ironman specific training. Plus, like most races - the low moments always seem to pass when I finish and I am always happy that my body let me finish.
After rinsing off my body w/ cold water, discovering many places around my neck where I did not put enough body glide (OUCH!) and re-hydrating, I spotted my friend Susan and her sister and Susan's 3-week newborn to come and cheer me on.
We walked and chatted for about 10 minutes and after they left, I grabbed a banana, Chobani blueberry Greek yogurt with self-serve granola and strawberries from the food tent and waited for Karel.
Worried that he would be exhausted and would not enjoy the long-distance swim experience, I saw Karel sprint up to the finish line (passing 3 guys on the sand - always competitive :) ) and in a finishing time 1:32, Karel said "I felt great!"
With no pressure, Karel just did his own thing and was smooth in the water. He didn't race it and he just focused on what he has been practicing in Master Swim practice for the past 4 months. I was so proud of Karel not only for his effort and great time but also for his attitude and really enjoying the moment and acknowleding where he was and how far he has come with swimming.
As Karel refueled and rehydrated, they started the awards and I received the cutest award for winning the 30-34 age group.
After downloading our data onto Garmin and TP, Karel ended up swimming 2.75 miles and I swam 2.8 miles.
In thinking back to the beginning part of this post, I have little reason to be frustrated, disappointed or critical of my swim. I had a challenging 3 hour bike + 53 min run (both w/ intervals) today (Sun) and I realized why my season is going so well.
I make every training session count and I keep it focused and balanced. I have my race schedule in mind and with the quality training, I can have great race day performances.
Great athletes know how to train smart but they also know how to race smart. There are no second chances when it comes to making a good impression at a race but with every training sesssion, there is tomorrow.
Every athlete has the ability to be great. You mut know how to hold back or say no when it is necessary and you must know how to be smart and give a great effort when it counts. Don't ever think that you don't have the capability to be great and most importantly, to inspire others with your consistent actions.