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Training

What it’s All About

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On Sunday morning I raced in the Boulder Sprint Triathlon,
the first in a series of three increasingly longer races that culminates with
the Ironman 70.3 on August 8th. While I’ve been racing triathlons
for many years and have participated in numerous events of varying distances, I
have a confession to make: I was incredibly nervous about Sunday’s competition!

You see, long ago I used to regularly race shorter distance
triathlons, which meant I trained specifically to be as speedy as possible
during the bike and the run (forget the swim, I’m pretty much painfully slow
regardless of how much effort I put into that discipline!). Over the past few
years, I’ve favored longer distance events – half and full Ironman triathlons
and half and full marathons – therefore sacrificing a certain amount of
fleet-footedness with the requisite long distance training. Of course, I’m also
a bit older than I was “back in the day”, so perhaps my body is a little less
willing and able to go all out as it might have been in my 20’s and 30’s, but that’s
another topic altogether.

Anyhow, I was somewhat terrified of this race – not knowing
how my body would perform and not knowing how my ego would hold up if things
went south. So early in the  morning, as
I sipped my pre-race coffee and pulled on my pretty pink and green race kit, I
took charge of the one thing I knew I could control: my attitude. I gave myself
a sweet little talking to, a friendly reminder that the foremost reason I
choose to race is for fun. Sure, I enjoy being competitive, trying to improve
on my own previous results and to place as high as possible in my age-group.
But regardless of time splits and podium positions, the core reason behind my
athletic drive is that I honestly enjoy every stroke and stride. Yet every now
and then, when I get too caught up in pre-race nerves, I need to remind myself
of that fact.
Race kit

I cranked my car stereo as I drove to the event, windows
down, wind whipping my hair, singing along to the music at the top of my lungs.
When I reached the venue I quickly set up my gear, took a short warm up jog and
then chit-chatted with fellow racers while cheering on the competitors with
earlier start times. As my own start drew near, I took a moment to look around
at the throngs of athletes – many racing their first ever triathlon – and to
appreciate how sport serves up equal doses of inspiration, accomplishment and
good health.

While I couldn’t quite smile underwater, the expression of
gratitude and happiness rarely left my face for the entirety of the race. I
enjoyed the feel of my arms stroking through the cool water, the burning in my
quadriceps as I rode hard on my bike and the high-heart-rate pounding in my chest during
the final miles on the run. I simply went for it, racing happy and fast – as
fast as I could on that particular morning, which was all that mattered. And
honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by my results – not the fastest sprint
I’ve ever raced, but well within the time goal I had hoped to attain. Most
importantly, however, was the fact that I had a visceral reminder of why I love
the challenge of sporting events – the pure, immeasurable fun!