Finally it looks like spring is here, while it has been a rainy spring, we have been able to do our share of outdoor stuff over the last couple of weeks. The winter blues were really getting to us, the long days in the basement (aka the paincave) were getting old and it was definitely time for us to play outside and get to breathe some fresh air. We also were able to kick our season of races doing the Rutgers Unite Half. This is the 3rd year doing it and definitely it is turning to be a great race to kick off the season each year. It is in early April which makes me train during the earlier months and push through the winter getting either really cold miles outside or dark miles on the treadmill. Not only that, but it is a great race because we don’t have to spend a lot of money or plan a lot of logistics, since we stay at my parents’ house. Lastly, while it isn’t an easy course, it has a few rollers that make you push a little bit and also it is a good way to measure progress. This year I was really happy with the results, 2 years ago when we first did it we had just moved, our training for it was less than optimal, we couldn’t run much outside due to the snow, didn’t have a treadmill and barely got ourselves to the gym. Note that this is a longer half with a 13.4 (as seen on multiple Garmins) and I finished with a 2:09:08 the 13.1 mark. It was by far one of my slowest times. Last year, Felipe was on a mission to get me down to the 2:00 half and I stuck with him up to mile 10 and told him to go. Needless to say he finished with less than 2:00 and I was right behind him with a 2:03:53. We had not trained a whole lot either, we had finished IMCozumel at the end of 2015 and it took us a while to get back to it.
We didn’t want to run and really weren’t ready for it, but we did our best to get to the start and finish line knowing the results weren’t going to show. This year was different. I have been working on my strength, got a lot more miles in, and in general did my homework on the treadmill, the track, and getting the long runs not only on the trail, but also around on the road where we did hill work and put in the miles. My 13.1 mark this year was right at 2:00:49. Finally back down to the 2:00’s it only took me 5 years to get there and I think I’m now stronger than I was 5 years ago, so I’m really happy with the progress and how it all is falling into place.
So that’s how our season got started, speaking of seasons, this is our 5th season, who would’ve thought that after a cold morning in February, 5 years ago, we would still have the bug. We have learned so much over the last 5 years, while it probably isn’t what most do, at least we’ve learned what works for us.
Few things that we have learned:
- Triathlon is a life-style…. it isn’t our life. This is probably one of the most important
lessons. We have learned to balance our regular lives and our triathlon lives and we feel like we are doing a pretty good job at it. We don’t slack on our workouts, but if life gets in the way of things, we let it be. We don’t let it ruin our days or don’t simply plan every single day around our training. Not going to say we didn’t fall into that early on when we felt like we HAD to do everything possible to get all the workouts in. A key to this has been planning our season and sticking to our plans.
- Adding to the last point, it is ok to not race every weekend, or even every month, anyways… we got so many medals now that we can’t even hang them all up. We were there, did that, did a total of over 15 races in less that 12 months the first year. It was fun, we felt like we wanted to do everything and didn’t want to miss an opportunity. However, we learned later after getting injured that over-racing was actually one of the issues. Once we started to take that into consideration, our training felt better and also we started to see gains. More importantly we haven’t been injured since. No injuries means you can train better, nail your workouts and also means you save time because you don’t have to start looking for doctors and going to physical therapy.
- Missing workouts is ok too. This is one that took us probably the longest to learn. At first we would feel so guilty about it. Getting reds on TrainingPeaks is like the walk of shame. What would our coach think? are we slacking? would we be able to compete? would we have enough miles? so many questions rushed through our heads that we simply sucked it up and ended up moving stuff around to simply get a workout in. Even if we were sacrificing our own regular lives like friends, families, work. Now we take a more relaxed approach to things. We actually don’t feel as guilty now, if we get to do an spontaneous date night at the City.
- Love for what we do. Recently I’ve read on social media a lot of posts related to
burnout and simply losing the love for triathlon or losing hope. To me, this life style is something we want to do, that’s a start. Once you lose the love or the interest, you might as well find something else, why do something you don’t enjoy? About losing hope, let’s set something straight. Losing hope for what? I know we all have or own challenges and demons, trust me it isn’t easy for me, nor do I believe I make it look easy. It takes a lot of work, perseverance, sweat, and tears. Also, I have learned to reset my expectations. I’ve made the mistake (as many people do) to compare myself to others, often times that other is Felipe (or random people of social media). He is for example a great swimmer, so his swims seem easy to him while I struggle. I have learned to not look at him as I would get down to his swim times, but rather to learn how he pushes his paces and tries to get the best out of the time in the water.
Of course my gains are marginal at times, but they are gains and I take them and I put them in the bank with hopes I can cash them on race day. I have learned to be able to reset my expectations and not lose hope nor the love for this lifestyle. Finding the right balance between life, triathlon, marriage, work, friends, has been key for us.
Anyways, those are just my thoughts and a few lessons learned. I’m sure there are more and there will be plenty more. I hope I don’t lose the love anytime soon, I’m having way too much fun still. Even if sometimes I want to throw the towel when days get rough and I feel like Ironman training simply sucks the life out of me and question my sanity for signing up for it, but the finish line, pushing my limits, and looking forward to racing with my honey, friends, and having fun while at it is what keeps me focused. Seeing progress is motivation to keep striving for more and making those improvements only I can make.