Monday, June 3, 2013

Look Strong, Feel Strong, Be Strong

Because when you feel strong you become strong.

Sunday's triathlon at Madeira Beach finally taught me that lesson. I knew it, but I didn't know it. 

I spent the month of May training. Hard. I know I've been "training" for awhile now, but this month really tested me. I logged 282 miles on the bike, 73 miles on the run and over 16 miles swimming. Big numbers for me. Tears, snot, curse words and sweat litter those 371 miles. 

As emotionally and physically painful as May was, it brought growth: strength, friendships and maturity all came along for the ride. There were points where I really didn't like who I was; for instance when I was pouty, crying and negative after being dropped on Davis Island (then again when I was dropped like I never have been, in San Antonio). But this is the first time in this entire triathlon experience that I have been excited about training. 

I've been very passive in my training. Asking questions about my performance that make me a victim of the circumstances. May helped me kick that mentality in the tuckus. Successful athletes don't let the circumstances control them - they control the circumstances. This weekend, I also realized that I have radically re-defined success for myself. 

So, you want to know what happened in Madeira this weekend?? 


First I finally put together a good swim - because I wasn't afraid to kick. And because master's swim has taught me that I can. I can keep pulling. My arm's won't give up. I can pass people on the swim. I can be the last person in the water and still get out 9th in my AG. Then I was swift, controlled and focused in transition. 

Here's where it get's good. I hammered it on the bike. I threw out the Garmin (like literally. but that is for another post. so don't do it. but do it. throw it out every now and then. figuratively.) and just went off the feel. I wanted to make sure I focused on staying connected to the pedal and transferring all my energy to the bike. Since our AG started second to last, I finally got to pass people. Boy does that help. And being passed by a few fast friends. Doing everything I could to stay on their tail. 

And the numbers show it: according to my calculations (9.8 miles in 29.51 minutes) I averaged 19.7 mph. Which is my fastest race average EVER. My first sprint was the same distance, perhaps even a tad bit shorter and it took me 32.23 ~ 18.2 mph. I remember hurting during that ride. But Sunday felt good. Hard, but good. Am I physically capable of going faster? Probably. But it was a good ride and I am proud of the speed I'm gaining. 

And if I thought I liked the person I was on the bike, boy was going to be surprised by the run. The first half of my run was nothing special. Rather, it was pretty dismal. The entire 5k was on the sand, and I'd run 5k on the sand the day before. I was letting that be an excuse, and I was letting the triathlon dictate my performance. I wasn't in control and was just kind of trotting. Since it was an out-and-back, I quickly realized I wasn't as far behind everyone as I thought I was. I was actually rather close to a lot of people who had passed me on the bike. Suddenly I kicked it into high gear. After track this week I knew I could run fast. After 8x400 at 1:41-1:46, I ran 1 mile in 7:30. So, I knew I could run. And run fast. 

And that is all it took. My brain deciding I could do it. 

That lethargic, being dominated, trotting feeling I had for the first mile and a half, that was my body doing what it wanted, without direction and innervation from the most important part of me: my mind. 

Once I decided I was going to do it, there was no going back. My mantra flooded my brain: 

Look strong, feel strong, be strong. 

That and cheering on everyone I knew that I passed. Obnoxious, hand clapping, whooping and hollering cheering. Because it helps. I swear. I do it more for me than for them! 

Ultimately I finished the race in 1:15.11. After swimming a full half-mile, and running the 5k completely in the sand. That is a 7 minute PR from my last sprint - where the swim was .46, and the run wasn't even 2.5 miles. I only averaged 18.3 on the bike. 

If that's not proof that I'm gaining speed, I don't know what is. 

Ok, I'll leave you with the pictures from the weekend! 

Love being up at 4:30 :) 

Finally got my cap off in time for pictures, thanks Franky! 


Oh yeah - we both placed in our AG's! 

I mean, we met through Ragnar - why be serious?

Speaking of serious, I didn't mention our W's the day before?? Dash for Cash - top ten on the 5k run we did won $20 and a plaque. Turns out you win an identical plaque if you come top ten on the mile swim we entered after. Love training with these ladies, it's never boring! 

All of this awesomeness happened the same weekend as NCAA's for Rowing. 7 years ago, as a Freshman, I placed 5th in the Nation in the women's four. I was more excited yesterday, seven years later, abut placing fifth at a small, local race, than I ever was about any of my rowing performances in college. I've re-defined success. Or, I'm working on it. Because I was stoked when I crossed the finish line yesterday, without having a clue about my time or place. I was so proud I was able to show the control to turn my run around, and I knew I'd put together a good race. I think I might even be ready for a race plan, because I'm finally ready to execute a plan. Which is awesome. 

So now that I am done over-using the word awesome, it's time to sleep. Triathlon Tuesday awaits. Can't wait to have the boys push me in the pool and to chase the ladies on the bike. All that pushing and chasing - that's the magic. I'm going to dream of magic tonight. 

xoxo Sweat&Sparkle 

1. What was your last PR?
2. How do you define success?
3. Do you have a running mantra? Share it! 

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