I've always been under the impression that to be a great coach, it's very difficult to coach and be an athlete at the same time. While many great coaches were former athletes, it can often be challenging to develop athletes to reach their goals while you, the coach, are training for your own racing goals.
While I have been an athlete longer than I have been a coach, I am still learning as an athlete and as a coach. As the sport of triathlon changes every year, I also find myself racing differently to adapt to our ever evolving sport.
With this being my 10th season of endurance triathlon racing, I can honestly say that it was only a few years ago that I started to really understand how to "race" in a long distance triathlon.
Ever since Karel got his feet wet in the sport of triathlon just 4 years ago, he has taught me so much about racing. I absolutely love watching Karel race and I feel so lucky to share the behind the scene racing moments with Karel. As a former cat 1 cyclist, Karel is exceptional at suffering through pain but he is also very smart when he races. He is patient with his development, he doesn't race with an ego, he has great sportsmanship, he trains incredible hard, he stays present during his workouts and he loves competition.
Karel applies tactics to every race, adapts quickly under pressure and never chases times, watts, speeds or paces when he races.
What I love so much about our sport (triathlon) is that it's very unpredictable. I love the dynamics of racing in a 3-sport event and how every course race has its challenges. I also love the camaraderie that is shared among all levels of athletes on race day - with every athlete having his/her own reasons for showing up and participating in our awesome multisport event called triathlon.
Although Karel and I are triathlon coaches, we are also athletes. I am not sure if we would be great coaches if we stopped being athletes.
I believe that we are in the prime of our racing years and while this doesn't mean that we put our business second to training, we recognize that we are still learning about the sport and we learn best by putting ourselves through the same situations, scenarios, workouts and experiences as our athletes.
At every race, we learn something.
Boy on boy, did we each learn a lot this past weekend.
We face adversity, we overcome challenges and we suffer just like everyone else.
Although Karel and I will always live a very active lifestyle, when it comes to training and racing, we just can't simulate race-day scenarios in training. The best way that we can learn, grow and develop as coaches is to be athletes.
Karel and I raced in two different states this past weekend, with Karel staying local to race Mountains to Main Street (M2M - our new local half IM event by Set Up Events) in Greenville, SC and I traveled to Tennessee to race Rev3 Knox.
We were both accompanied by several of our Trimarni athletes as we both proudly support Rev3 and our local events in Greenville.
The M2M course suited Karel thanks to a lake swim (wetsuit legal), challenging bike (58 miles) and slightly hilly (for the first 6 miles) and then net downhill run.
Whereas when we raced Rev3 Knox last year (in the rain) I really loved the type of climbs on the bike course and the rolling hills on the run. Sadly, the run course was changed to eliminate the hilly section but it turned into a two loop run which was just fine as I love loop/out and back courses.
Karel and I each had a goal of placing overall male and female, respectively, at each race. While we didn't know who would show up on race day, a better way to describe this "winning" goal was that we were both willing to take a lot of risks to race as hard as we could on race day.
Karel and I had mentally, physically and nutritionally (ex. dialing in sport nutrition/hydration with every long workout as well as optimal pre-race foods) prepared for our races all season. Although we still have Ironman Austria approaching in 5 weeks (yippee and yikes!) and then Karel will race IMMT, we were both fired up for our early season "key" races.
After racing the Lake James 50 last weekend, we both felt like we were ready and willing to suffer to try to reach our goal. There were no paces, time goals, watts or metrics to chase - our focus was only on the nearest competition and swimming, biking and running as (sustainably) hard as we could possibly go for our races.
I hope I can do my best to summarize our race day so bear with me as I try to gather the right words to give two detailed race recaps, each with their own high moments, shortcomings, challenges and obstacles.
Mountains to Main StreetKarel
1.2 mile swim: 31:12
58 mile bike: 2:34:48
13.1 mile run: 1:24.03
1.2 mile swim: 31.11
56 mile bike (+6 mile detour): 3:07:57
13.1 mile run: 1:39.07
2nd overall female