Almost Last

Almost Last

by Tara G.

Whenever I sign up for a race the thought of finishing last runs through my mind. Race days are uncontrollable in many ways, from the weather to what illness is going around you just hope at the starting line you are the best version of yourself on that day.

My journey to completing a full ironman has been windier than anticipated and sometimes I’m challenged mentally to overcome that. After COVID pushed my race from 2020 > 2021, I went from training at 10:30 pace miles for long training runs to welcoming my 3rd baby 6 months before race day and barely breaking 12 min miles most workouts. After an unsuccessful first attempt at the full and then a mechanical failure on my bike handle bars that set me back almost 2 months during key training time when attempting the second time, I realized I needed a “break”. With 3 kids to manage, a self-run company that is growing and very demanding, and almost 2 years of hard, long, training resulting in me not sporting the Ironman tattoo I had some choices to make.

Coach Joe is strategic enough to support my need for a step back to move forward. To allow me to still participate in a multi-sport that I love, but to also live a life that will allow me to not be in catch-up mode all the time. I needed to get back to basics, focus on nutrition, strength, shorter distances and races, and working on form in all 3 segments. With that said, 2023 race season was upon me.

Living with any kids, let alone 3, you might understand the merry go round of coughs, sniffles, and flu’s that pass through. I was racing a couple 5k’s, a sprint tri (.5 mile swim, 21 mile bike, 5k run) and then closing out the season with a 5 mile run in Sept.

Lessons I reminded myself of throughout this summer of training:

  1. Do the workouts – you can’t better if you don’t follow your coaches plan. There were times I’m sure when Coach Joe would look in my workout plan logs and be like where’s Tara. For a myriad of reasons I would log in at the beginning of the week- write down my workouts, then at the end of week review workout watch stats and add them/update all at once. Doing this with shorter races I felt a little better, as the point of daily workouts is so your coach can adjust them on the fly…but for the time starved working mom that I have become, this was the best I could come up with for this summer.
  2. The mental game is real – there were days when I would finish a workout and say to myself the 20 year old D1 track and field athlete version of me would be so pissed! I had to remind myself to stay positive- no one should live in the woe-is-me mental space. Get up, get moving, get better was my motto and with that it took the pressure off the end result and allowed me to make it to the start of the workout in a positive place.
  3. Finish no injuries is OK, for me, for now. In training it’s you against the clock, on race day, it’s still that, but it’s also you against your age group and when you are a competitive person it can be hard to walk in knowing you might be almost last. Turning that into appreciation for getting to race is where I excelled. Looking at each opportunity as a chance to show my girls that it’s ok to not win, and it’s ok, for now to show up, do your best on that day, and be in a position to get to do it again in the future is the name of the game.

Being a remotely located (Boston) virtual athlete on the Experience Triathlon team allows me to remain part of a community of other athletes that are also on their journey to be as great as they can be not only on race day, but every day. The sport of Triathlon is amazing, it’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s sometimes disappointing, but when you are surrounded by other people just showing up, working to complete a 3 part event that is equally challenging both mentally and physically, it means being almost last isn’t really as bad as it sounds. I’m looking forward to keeping the momentum going through winter training and in 2024 being sharper than the year before.



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