Monday, March 10, 2014

Am I ready?

For me, this past year has been a bit of a roller coaster.  I have gone through many changes.  But again, I decided that I would shoot for an early season triathlon and I hired a coach to help me prepare. 

Last year, San Juan 70.3 was my first ever long distance triathlon.  I had just learned how to swim about 6 months prior, bought my first bike 5 months before, and had no concept of the training necessary to complete this. 

I logged as many hours as I could with each discipline with no direction and no specific agenda.  I read a lot and talked to as many people as I could about how to do it, but still was generally clueless.

I went into it with a few time goals, but ultimately, I just wanted to not drown, keep pedaling so I didn't fall over, and ultimately not walk the entire half marathon.  There wasn't any point when I really felt ready to do it.  I just knew I was going to do it.

Flash forward to this year.  I had hired a coach, followed a specific training plan, and logged miles and hours that I didn't think that I would be capable of.  However, even with all the training/preparation, there were still times where I wasn't sure if I was "ready."

I would have a bad session or sessions in the pool.  There were days where I could not keep the watts on the bike.  There were days that Running 1:30 slower than my 5K pace felt like I was trying to run my 5K pace.  I never felt truly ready until this past weekend.

I was in my final big build week before my peak/taper into San Juan 70.3.  This weekend involved 70+  miles of Biking with a 30 minute transition run on Friday, a 3400 Swim and Lift on Saturday, and then a 25 mile bike followed by a 1:20 min. run on Sunday. 

By the time that Sunday hit, I was getting tired.  I was at the end of a strong 2 week build for me and was feeling a bit gassed.  I had no idea how the run was going to go.  The goal was to start conservative, hit my goal pace for the middle few miles, and hit a pace that was quicker than my goal pace for the final few miles.

After the first few miles, I didn't know if this was going to happen.  Legs were starting to feel it and mind was starting to question.  But I have had a lot of talks with a friend recently about how the body is stronger than the mind.  Our mind tells us we can't before the body is ready to give in.  I truly believe that.  We are often much more capable than we believe or tell ourselves that we are.

I tried to remember all the times that I had been more tired than this and I survived.  I told myself that giving up at this point would accomplish nothing and I would definitely regret it later.

I kept pushing and hit a pace for the last mile that even allowed me to give myself a silent fist pump in the middle of no where.  I even said out loud with no one else around me on this abandoned road.  "I AM READY." (I am weird......this I know, but self-talk can be beneficial....right?)

One of the best things that I heard to help yourself mentally prepare for a big event or race is something that I read that Craig Alexander does before each big race.  He looks back at his training log.  He looks back and realizes all the preparation and sacrifice that was made to get to this point.  If you are able to complete all the steps necessary to get there, on the date of the big race or day, how would you not be ready?

For me, when the road gets tough during the race in San Juan and I start to get fatigued, tired, ready to hold back, I will try to remember this workout.  I will try to remember that I put in all the needed time to get myself to this point and now all I have to do is get out there and do what I have done nearly every weekend since October. 

I am ready for this.

However, this realization/enlightenment is very different for everyone and will come at random to most people.  There is no rhyme or reason to how one can come to this "feeling" of readiness.  For a friend of mine, it took getting uncomfortable and giving up on all concerns and worries about race day.  Basically, not caring how she did.  She realized that the mental stress of race day was fatiguing her more than any run could.  She finally relaxed and had the best race of her life.

For me, it took pushing myself to a point far past my comfort zone and letting go of any concerns that I had about not making it. 

Less than 5 weeks from today to San Juan.

Here are a few inspirational quotes that helped me to get to this point.

”I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy… I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” -Art Williams

“I was not delivered into this world in defeat nor does failure flow through my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, walk, to merge with the sheep. I will not hear those who weep and complain for their thoughts are contagious. Let them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure…Is not my destiny.”

"It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before... to test your limits... to break through barriers."

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved."  - Helen Keller

Training this year.