Rediscovering the Love of Triathlon
by Jeff R.
My first goal was to race with love and to enjoy the day. I wanted to remember why I loved this sport. I wanted to not judge my success or failure this day on a number. Sure I wanted to PR, and I prepared hard for it, but the weather conditions – hot and humid – made that a tough task.
Really I didn’t want to repeat of my last race. It was the same distance, mid-pandemic, and in similar weather. That race, I was solely focused on data and hitting my times. When I got out of the water 5 minutes slower than I wanted I got so down on myself. The bike was filled with a ton of negative self talk. I didn’t enjoy a second of it, despite being my best 40K triathlon effort. And then I flat quit on the run. I couldn’t hold my pre-race run goal due to the heat and just gave up. I crossed the finish line in tears.
The next week I reached out to Coach Joe of Experience Triathlon Coaching Services and we began working together. What surprised me the most about working with Joe is how much we talk about the mental side of racing, about love, about gratitude, and how little we talk about data and metrics.
I wanted my return to racing to be different. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to smile and be grateful. Coach Joe and I talked a lot about having tiers of goals, and about leaning in when things get tough. Goal 1 was to have fun, goal 2 was to give my best effort that day, goal 5 or 6 was to PR.
All three legs of the 370 Lakeside Triathlon could have been better. The swim started directly into the sun and the race had few sighting buoys. I got off course a bunch, and had to use my polo thirds drill to find the next buoy. When I got out of the water in 40 minutes having swam 2,170 yards (530 yards more than an Olympic distance) I laughed and let it go. “Have a good bike and run.” No negative self talk. I’m here because I love this.
The bike went well, but some winds in the open areas took some speed from me. A good time, but not my best. Still I had so much fun on the bike. It felt like a gift to be riding.
The run had eerily familiar feelings to my last race – crazy hot and humid, no shade. But I was different. I came out of transition with a focused mind ready to compete. About two minutes in I knew it was time for plan B. The heat was intense, so I was going to lean in and give my best effort today. There were some tough moments on the run, but my attitude stayed good. I was thankful for what my body could do.
I ran hard the last half mile, maxed out, and crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face. I improved by 7 minutes on the run from my last race. That’s a win I’ll take all day.
What I learned at the 370 Lakeside Triathlon was that I love triathlon. I love it more than PRs and podiums. From a data perspective, I didn’t have a great day. But man, I had fun. I’m competitive by nature, and I want to keep working hard to have my best Olympic race this year. But I don’t need numbers to define a race as successful. I’ll look back fondly at this race as when I rediscovered my love for this sport.