Thursday, March 22, 2012

Reality Check

Over the past few weeks I have had to evaluate where I am as an athlete, my race schedule, and my goals for this year.  The catalyst for this evaluation began on February 25th when I ran my first 8 mile run in over two years for my ½ marathon training.  The run was hard.  My body ached because it was not used to that type of mileage.  Mentally I was drained, but I forced myself to get through the run.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I did it, but boy did I pay for it the next day!

Sunday morning I woke up with what I like to call “crunchy knees."  Every few steps my knees would ache, the type of ache that makes you wonder if you have just shortened your race season or not.  I decided I would take it easy for the next few days and see if that would ease my crunchy knees.  Unfortunately the crunchy knees did not go away, but lucky for me I had an appointment coming up that Monday with my first-line-of-treatment doctor, Dr. Green.  Dr. Green is my chiropractor, who is also an accomplished triathlete.  He is a genius at doing alignments and performing active release therapy.  If Dr. Green can’t treat me, then I know it’s time for me to see my sports medicine doctor. 

As the week wore on, I begin questioning my spring race schedule.  I had 3 races planned – Monument 10K, the Dismal Swamp Stomp ½ Marathon, and the Monticelloman Olympic triathlon.  I had once again made my training mistake – trying to do too much too soon.  What was I thinking about to sign-up for a ½ marathon?  Yes my training had been going well, but my body was not ready to train for a ½ marathon and an Olympic triathlon.  One of my tri coaches had previously told me that I should have an “A” race for the spring and focus on that.  I had my “A” race, but I also wanted a “B” and “C” race too.  Silly me.

I contacted my tri coach to get her thoughts about me scratching my ½ marathon.  She was in complete agreement.  I also spoke to Dr. Green during my appointment and he also agreed that scratching my ½ was the best thing for me to do.  My quads, which were causing my crunchy knees, were not ready for the mileage of a ½ marathon.  Even though I knew I had made the right decision, I felt defeated.  I had my pity party and cried.  I wanted to be like all of my other friends and teammates that were doing a spring ½ marathon.  I had gotten caught up in the excitement.  It was time to get my head out of the clouds and really consider what I was able to accomplish this year.

I drastically changed my race calendar.  I will not pursue a ½ Ironman this fall.  Instead, I will do another Olympic.  In between my two Olympics I plan to do two sprints.  I also dropped several road races from my schedule.  I have to be realistic about where I am as an athlete, especially as a triathlete. 

I am a beginner triathlete.  The Monticelloman Olympic will only be my second tri.  I am still learning.  I have to stop placing unnecessary pressure on myself and just have fun.  Unfortunately as I type this, I can’t help but keep wondering if I will make out of the water in time for the Monticelloman.  Swimming .9 of a mile in 50 minutes is a real challenge when you are relearning how to swim 2 months prior to the race.  I don’t want to be the black chick that didn’t finish.  That would be a hard pill for me to swallow.  But as my swim coach told me, all I can do is the best to my ability.

I just wish I wasn’t so competitive!  My competiveness is what motivates me to get up and train.  But my competitiveness has consumed me to the point that I am no longer having fun.  I have to get my fun back.  Recently I purchased a beach towel from Pottery Barn Kids that has seahorses with my name embroidered on it.  I also ordered a couple of silly looking swim caps.  I know those purchases may seem irrelevant, but they do help ease some of my tension when it comes to swimming.  I am still working on ways to make my workouts fun like they used to be, but I think that has more to do with my mindset and my goals for this year.

This tri/run season will be about growing as an athlete and enjoying the journey.  I have come a long way since the beginning of preseason, and I need to celebrate my accomplishments, instead of stressing out and having all of these pity parties.  Even though I had to scratch my ½ marathon, my training overall is still going pretty well.  I need to live more in the moment and keep things in perspective.  Easier said than done of course, but I definitely plan to work on it.     

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