Monday, April 2, 2012

Thoughts on Texas 70.3

Texas 70.3 was on of those events that requires a bit of time to think on.  Not because you have to analyze the mistakes and issues but because you know exactly what went wrong and you have to decide to face it. 

Texas was the opening race of the season.  The one that I have been looking forward to through all the long hours of offseason training.  With the level of competition at the race I didn't have any expectations going in as who I was going to beat but I did have a level of performance I expected of myself.  Not really a time expectation, there are far too many variables with conditions, but a performance where I knew that I had given my best effort and at this I failed miserably. 

Race morning was as relaxed as its been in a long time.  With my wave being 2nd to last there was 1:30 between the pro start and our start so no need to rush through anything.  In training it always seems like one of the three sports isn't going as well as the other two and for me lately its been the swim.  I wasn't overly stressed about it.  It was a wetsuit swim and coming down from altitude I anticiapated being at or around my swim times from previous years on the course.  Looking back I don't feel too upset about my swim time of 35 min.  Obviously its not good but I can acknowledge the fact the my swim fitness isn't exactly where it needs to be right now and I had some sighting issues that pulled me off the line I wanted.  Both are easily fixed with hours in the pool and more open water practice now that its starting to warm up.  T1 wasn't exactly up to par for me but that's mainly due to the fact that I had hell getting off my wetsuit.  Another issue that is easily fixable. 

The first issue of the day cropped up quickly on the bike when I went to get my Garmin started and found that the face was full of water and non-functioning.  So it looked like the ride was going to be old school style with no wattage, HR or pace.  The plan going in was to ride based on a fairly conservative wattage range for me so I tried to complete the ride at a comfortable effort level instead.  I definitely went with a too comfortable level though.  Looking back on how I felt there wasn't really ever a moment when I felt any significant fatigue or pushed out of the comfort zone.  I was getting a bit uncomfortable towards the end but that had more to do with holding aero for 2+ hours.  Finished up with a 2:26 ride.  Not great for me but wouldn't have been an issue if I had executed the rest of the race.

Out on the run it was blind pacing again with no splits or pace from the Garmin.  The first lap felt really slow but looking back at the paces online with was in line with what I would have wanted at around a 7 min pace.  The 2nd lap is where the wheels started to come off.  Not physically but mentally.  What's even worse is that physically I felt great.  Exactly like I should have after that relatively easy ride.  Instead I let myself begin to make excuses for what was going wrong with the day.  Mostly based on the fairly tough weather conditions and how I wasn't prepared for them.  Instead of concentrating on my performance I focused on what was wrong with the day and  mentally shut down.  The mental shut down allowed me to lapse on my nutrition and by the end of the run I was in pretty lousy shape.  Evidenced by the 1:46 run split.

Spending my plane ride back home mentally reviewing the race it would be easy to blame issues like the garmin not working or a lack of heat training.  That would just be more excuses though.  I've done enough of these races and put in enough hours of training to know what a race effort feels like and I shouldn't need numbers on a watch to tell me how I'm doing.  And even though the conditions were hot and humid they were the same for everyone.  Its not like the entire field had been training in a sauna in preparation for this event.  The real issue is that I allowed myself to fail.  I chose to dwell on the negatives instead of racing in the moment to the best of my abilities. 

In many ways my life revolves around this sport and for me to achieve the success that I aim for its time to face the fact that far too often when faced with a race that may not be unfolding as planned I allow myself to give in to the negativity.  Texas 70.3 is where this ends.  I have complete confidence in my coach's plan to get me to the starting line in shape to perform and now it is up to me to perform at the level we have prepared for.  Its not about performing to a certain time goal or wattage/pace number.  It's about giving the best effort that I have to give on that day.  Its doesn't mean "pushing myself to the max" or "going so hard I puke" but being able to walk away from a race knowing I have no regrets about my effort.  Every race won't be perfect and there will still be failures but it won't be because I am forced to acknowledge that I have failed in giving the most of myself.  That is my committment.

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