Racing to achieve your goals
Last month I was interviewed by a writer at Chicago Athlete Magazine. This was my first interview and before hand I ran through all the possible questions he could possibly ask before he called. I answered most of them to my satisfaction with the exception of the last question. The last question he asked me was this: ”What are your triathlon goals for the remainder of your races this season?”
I was stubbed. I think I muttered something to the effect of, “I want to be in the top three of my age group for the rest of season, and top 5 women overall.” Now, don’t get me wrong. Everyone has different goals for different races, but I have never really been super excited to be “at the top.” Sure, stepping on the podium is exciting, but what does it mean in terms of personal progress?
For the past month I have given this question a lot of thought, and going into Evergreen I needed some answers. Evergreen Lake Triathlon is a “small” triathlon that brings big names. Along with a beautiful course there is prize money for the top three finishers. Therefore, this race tends to attract professional triathletes. Being my stealthy self I decided to review the line up and see what “big names” would be there. I googled every name out of wave 1 to check out the competition and almost passed out while doing so. At the time I believe I counted 4 pros and two other elite racers that have a pretty solid race resumes.
The morning of Evergreen I got to the park at 5:30, enough time to set up transition and mentally prepare for the race ahead. I saw many familiar faces in transition and many well wishes were exchanged. Before I knew it, it was 6:51 and time to make my way to the swim start. The swim start was crowded (I think there were 55 people in the first wave) and I was kicked a few times while trying to fight my way out of the cluster, but I did and settled into a nice pace. The swim seemed a bit long, but soon I was out in transition mounting my bike.
Now if you have ever competed in the first wave of a race you will know it gets pretty lonely. And this race was really lonely. Talk about challenging your mental toughness. On the bike I rode for about 17 miles without seeing another rider. If you know me well, you know biking is very challenging for me. I worked all winter with Coach Joe and Coach Sarah on CompuTrainer twice a week for 20 weeks because my bike was holding me back. The whole ride my mind was racing – am I going fast enough, am I headed in the right direction, am I burning all my matches by shifting the wrong way? Then I would fight these thoughts with Coach Joe’s words of wisdom – trust your training. Soon enough I was off the bike and my feet were on the ground.
I truly love the run portion part of the race, but today was a different story. My legs were lead pipes. Usually I can shake my legs out after mile one, however as I passed mile one I knew this was not happening today. On the course there was one girl directly in front of me and I made the decision to let her keep pace for the first three miles. Then I would feel the rest of the race out. And that was what I did. As I came closer to mile three I counted the ladies in front of me: 1, 2, girl in front of me 3, I was in 4th. And that is when the race became a race. Top three finishers win money. At mile three I passed the lady in front of me thinking if she wants to pace with me the last 3.2 miles she can. The run did not get any better. My legs never loosened up and there were many points that I wanted to stop, but I pushed through. I was in this one to win the cash. At about a mile to go, a racer passing me told me 4th place was about 20 seconds behind me – time to kick this in gear! 800 yards in I picked up my pace, and gave it all I got. I heard a ton of people from my team, Experience Triathlon, cheering me into the finish line. I made it!
Going into Evergreen I thought a lot about the reporter’s question, and asked myself what did I want from this race? This is what I decided on. 1) Ride over 23 MPH on my bike. I didn’t accomplish 23 mph, but I did hit 22.77 (almost there, Kris). 2) PR on the course. Did this even with what I think was a long swim. 3) Beat a pro. Check. And 4) Win some money. Check.
The truth is goal setting is not easy for triathletes. Triathlon brings so many uncontrollable factors: weather, race course, and competition. I have decided that each race I will set two realistic goals and two stretch goals. And that is what I did for this race.
Overall I ended up on the podium and with a little cash in my pocket, but the most satisfaction came from rocking out my fastest bike split ever on a course, and having friends and family supporting me on the finish line. Thank you, Coach Joe and Coach Sarah, for helping me accomplish this! Also thanks to my family, especially my husband Andy who wakes up at 4:30 with me and is there to support me at every race! Go Team ET!
Click here to see the Evergreen Triathlon photo set