I’ve done all the race reports, so I won’t bore you with a blow by blow, but here’s the highs and the lows for the year.
High: Not racing for over 2 months (12/15 to 2/26)
I really needed a break after last year. I enjoyed 7 weeks of just being slothy, and then the slow, gradual build from a lump of putty to an athlete. During that period, I would not call that a high point, because it was frustrating, but in hindsight, it’s nice to know that it’s possible to go from sloth to athlete again in a few months.
It also helped us to be able to cheer and volunteer for other races since we weren’t racing ourselves. I got to hand a bottle to the women’s winner of the Austin Marathon because I wasn’t racing it. That was cool!
We also got to do cool stuff like learn to scuba dive because we weren’t training so hard. And we, as triathletes, absolutely needed another really expensive hobby!
High: Winning for overall women at Lifetime Indoor Tri (Feb)
It feels cheesy to say it, because it was so small, but there were 11 women. And I beat the rest of them. Being solidly in the middle of the pack, give or take depending on the event, I’ll take what I can get.
High: PRing at Austin 10/20 (April)
My body was NOT in shape to do this, but my mind wanted it enough that I took 2 minutes off my time from 2012. My pace was just a little bit shy of my half marathon PR and I finally saw a ray of light that my running might not be in the crapper as much as it felt like.
Low: Knee injury, my first two DNSs at Red Poppy Ride and Rookie Tri (April/May)
While I’m happy it wasn’t anything needing surgery or something super serious or season ending, it was INFURIATING being that hobbled for that long. How could an angry tendon cause THAT much chaos?
While it sucked to have to DNS two races, the silver linings were plentiful. The red poppy ride shirt was the exact same as last year, but in green, so I felt ok wearing it. I was able to get a partial refund for Rookie, and the weather was SO INCREDIBLY TERRIBLE that the day of, I was perfectly happy on the sidelines.
Also, it inspired me to volunteer more again – for the 5k9, where my job was to dance at the finish for all sorts of cute puppies (and their owners) so they looked at the camera, and later for the Cap Tex Tri (that one was less of a joy, but still cool because I got to cheer on Hunter Kemper, and some majorly badass elite paratriathletes).
However, the WORST about this was missing all the great running weather and letting my nice running base dwindle to nil. That sucked hardcore and would hamper most of my season.
High: Losing 10 lbs (March, April, May)
The major, major silver lining around this time is I took off 10 lbs, which I have kept off. I haven’t made much progress since, but this has stuck with me through tri season, marathon season, and two vacations, so I’m calling it a win.
High: Play Tri – the comeback
I was worried about this one – I had gotten clearance to run 1.5 miles only 12 days before this race, and could only bike normally a week before that. I went out and rocked an Olympic triathlon, solidly PRing all 3 legs of the race. And I got to eat In N Out after, which is always a win.
Mixed Bag: Pflugerville Tri and BSLT
Plugerville was both a high and low. I really rocked the bike leg, and did alright on the swim, but the run suffered because of my knee. I missed beating last year’s time by 1.5 minutes even though I should have had no problem with that if I was healthy. However, this was the race I was most proud of last year, and I came close to it coming back from an injury. Can’t be too upset.
BSLT was mixed too. I was only 6 weeks back from zero on the run, and 7 weeks back from zero on the bike, so I am really, really happy I finished comfortably under the cutoff. However, that race was so hard, and I wanted to cry so many times during it. I was so incredibly unprepared to race any 70.3 at that point, let alone a hot, hilly, windy mess. I was just happy to finish out part 1 of the season, take a week or two to reset, and then move on to preparing for actually doing Kerrville justice.
This was the first race I felt like my knee and lack of training didn’t affect me. I PR’d by about 1.5 minutes, and I conquered the crazy hill on the run I walked last year, and I beat Zliten. I still don’t really like this race and don’t need to do it next year, but I remember thinking, after this one, “I’m really back”.
Low: Jack’s Generic and Tri Rock
The heat really started to get me at the end of the summer. I was kicking some serious ass on the swim, and rocking out the bike, but when I’d get to the run, I’d hit this huge wall halfway through and just fall apart, and my run paces went past meh to disappointing to embarrassing (for me).
Jack’s was all mental. I just lost it when I crossed by the finish and had another lap in the 10000 degree sun. Tri Rock was about the same (also 2 lap), but I was sick all that week with a stomach bug that seemed to be a little bit heat related, so some of that was playing it safe.
You would think that solid performances on two out of the three legs would at least be a mixed bag, but the suck overcame that for both of these. For example, I was 9 minutes ahead of my time from last year at tri rock when I crossed the T2 timing mat, but then it took me TWELVE minutes longer on the run, so I missed my time by 3 minutes. It’s not as if I was flying last year at 11 minute miles, but I just bonked SO HARD this year it was even worse.
High: First 112 mile ride (August) and 2.4 mile swim (July)
Yeah, the bike was on the trainer, but we did it. It was a fun day we endeavor to replicate again soon. Seriously, I <3 the trainer when it comes with a bike buffet, great movies, and my husband.
The 2.4 mile swim was in a lake and everything. I loved it! I even nailed it about 20 mins under IM swim cutoff without any 1.2 mile+ training, so I figure it’s all up from there!
High: Kerrville 70.3
This is my happy race. I went in convinced I wasn’t going to do it next year and I just don’t think it’s possible to avoid this Smokin’ Good Tri. 29 minute PR. Solid PR on each leg. Happy and smiling the entire time, and finally, for the first time since July, I felt like I didn’t give up during the race. Sure, I walked a few times on the run, but not all that often, and I held it mentally together. I still don’t feel as if I’ve RACED a 70.3 yet, but I’m hoping to change that next year, and this effort was incredibly close.
High: Watching Manu beat her goal at Uptown Classic 10k
She asked me if I thought she could extend her endurance from 5k to 10k in a few months, and instead of a simple yes, I sent her a training plan. She foolishly followed it (muahahaha) and ended up beating her goal of breaking 1 hour by over 2 minutes! Roar! I bet those speed workouts helped, even if they weren’t that fun…
High: Marathon training cycle and Space Coast Marathon
After a week or two of rest, I turned in my goggles, told my bike we needed to see other people for a while, and set out on my run heavy plan. I wasn’t excited about it at all because I had hated running all tri season, and now that’s all I got to do all week? Bleh.
I changed my tune quickly, as the first two weeks saw my paces drop, the temps go from insane to gorgeous, and my run love returned crazy hard. I started rethinking my strategy for the marathon from “just finish” to have a fairly ambitious (to me) time goal.
I could have easily picked out both 20 mile runs as specific high points, and the whole training period went so well. I went from dreading runs to actually planning to continue run training pretty quick after the marathon.
Sure, it didn’t quite work out on M-day, but I’m really proud of my effort there, and look forward to conquering another one soon(ish).
And now, here I am (ok, not HERE, I wish, but it’s the last sporty pic I had for the year). I’ve decided a few things for 2014, though I really don’t have much of a solid race plan besides a happy puppy wishlist that would have me racing like, every weekend.
1. I’m going to race 3M and PR the crap out of it. Considering doing another half marathon in the winter/early spring as well, but not sure which one.
2. As much as I want to do ALL THE RACES, I did really, really well with a long training cycle that didn’t have to accommodate races as training. My husband does not love this (he’d be at a start line every weekend) so we’ll have to balance that.
3. I don’t love racing and doing a ton of long training in the heat. I also get resentful because summer is my fave time and I don’t have the time or energy to do stuff like tubing, scuba, snorkel, kayak, sit on a patio with drinks somewhere overlooking the water, etc after training for 5 hours in the sun. I’m going to play to my strengths and not do the full TX Tri series next year (volunteer, yeah, but not race), and take some offseason time while it’s hot and do some other fun stuff.
4. I don’t feel like I need a long offseason after this year – I took 2 weeks off after each major race, which in each case was enough to let my body and mind bounce back, and the time I was injured made me not want to slug up intentionally, so I’ll continue that the planned time off this summer.
5. I felt the best gains when I focused on one specific sport at a time. When I tried to train equally at all 3, I felt like I stagnated at all 3. So, I plan to do focused weeks of swimming, biking, and running (for example, 4-5 runs, 2 bikes, 1 swim) to see if I can get that effect of high mileage without, y’know, all that high mileage. We’ll see how that works out.
6. I will not ignore speedwork for another year. It was magic how quickly my legs remembered how to run faster after… running fast. I can only imagine the bike and swim will follow suit. I did a little on the bike and some earlier in the year on the swim, but I think that specifically planning this out will help.
7. I will not be afraid of the treadmill. Just like laps in the pool and the bike trainer are not the same as doing it outdoors, the treadmill is not the same as running outside, sure. However, when it’s hot as fuck, one run outside per week to stay heat acclimated will do just fine, and you can actually do some work without heat stroke. I had huge gains this year on my bike and swim, and guess what? I do a TON of work in the pool and on the trainer. My run sucked this year. I slogged through all of it outside. Coincidence? Probably not.
8. Found a new type of triathlon up in Dallas called the x-50. 1 mile swim, 40 mile bike, 9 mile run. This sounds like the PERFECT distance for me, so I’m probably going to do both that are offered in May and then June (which will be my season pt 1 end)
9. I want to do a full Ironman aquabike (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile ride). I’m not ready for the whole 140.6, but after doing both of these this year, I’m ready to put those two together. I’m thinking about doing that at Redman, but it’s the weekend before Kerrville. There aren’t too many options in my area that I’ve seen. How thrashed will I be after a swim and a ride? How important is kicking as much ass as possible at Kerrville? I’ll have to make these calls.
10. I’m looking at 70.3 Canberra (yes, in Australia) as part of vacation in December, but we’re figuring out if this would be logistically and financially reasonable.
11. I want to run another marathon, but I’m not sure where that fits in the schedule. It would either be travel to somewhere cooler over the summer, or sometime in fall while training for Canberra. Or possibly that waits til early 2015. Or we do Space Coast again and Australia is just a vacation. Decisions decisions.
12. I want to focus on the training and how that improves me, just like the marathon cycle. Missing my goals there disappointed me a lot less because I had such a strong and successful training period – I had already proven to myself that I was a stronger and more capable runner. While it’s always nice to have things click and perform really well at a race, I think the key is focusing on performing consistently in training and hitting specific goals.
And, with that, I’m off to the gym to do a 5 mile tempo and a swim…. 2014 is almost here, y’all, and I’m excited about meeting it a lot more fit than 2013 NY!