Sunday, September 9, 2007

Changing Minds

I have been contemplating for quite awhile now my plans for the Longhorn Tri at the end of the summer. I talked about it with some girlfriends as marathon season was ending, and a bunch of us thought we'd sign up for the tri training with Rogue. There was also some discussion of doing the Texas Tri Series. We all thought, "Wouldn't it be fun to do those races?" Plus, signing up for the training meant we had to do all but one of the events in the series. Definitely a packed summer schedule.

But things change. One person got injured at AT&T. Another decided she was going back to school with the ultimate goal of starting her own business. And others just couldn't fit it into their schedules. Then, Rogue scaled down the second phase of the tri training program and consolidated the groups.

When I first met with my coach, Panther, I told him that my only goal for completing the Longhorn half-iron was to finish without a trip to the medic tent. As the summer progressed and races were completed I got stronger, and I discovered that not only do I like the feeling of racing, but I also like doing well (as opposed to simply finishing). There's also a lot of peer pressure in training groups, where you are almost constantly asked, "How did you do?" It really doesn't matter what you say, because as soon as race results are posted online, everyone looks up your times. For the most part, everyone is supportive, but it still adds a lot of pressure.

Our coach has said that our bodies peak at different times (i.e., you're never "on" all the time), and it's best to pick just a small number of "A" races to really go after - constant training and racing isn't really a good idea if you want to do well. I also know that my mindset from a month ago is very different than it is now. Where I used to get excited and plan my entire week around my bike rides and runs, squeezing my swims in where I could, etc., I now almost dread it. September is definitely here, and this is the time of year when I am just burned out.

So, as part of my final "evaluation" on what to do with this race looming just less than a month from now, I participated in a "distance simulation" this morning. The idea is that we would ride 50+ miles and then run about 13 miles to see what happens. Considering that the larger group only biked 56 miles once before back in April (the second longest distance was 47 in July), and I haven't run 13 consecutive miles all summer (the most was 10), this certainly was a tall order. We started at 7:30am, rode 53 miles, and then took off on the run. WHAM. We started the run at 12:50pm in the blazing sun and heat, and it just wasn't meant to be. In fact, no one finished the 13 miles.

I can't comment on anyone else's performance today, but I know that I simply did not want to finish. I had a great ride, and felt pretty good. But running right now HURTS (note: this is not merely a complaint, it's fact). I've been nursing an injury for a few weeks now that really needs to heal. I have no desire to try and complete the full race in October, especially if I want to run all three of the Motive, 3M and AT&T half-marathons. I am simply tired, and my body is ready for a break.

I learned a long time ago that it's good to set goals. It's also good to monitor your progress towards those goals and make adjustments to both your efforts AND goals along the way. But it's also okay to change your mind. Just as it did for those women who were going to sign up for the tri training and race series - circumstances change. This doesn't mean I'm a quitter, although I'm sure some folks might suggest that's the case. The bottom line is that I'm tremendously relieved that I at least have made this decision: I will not race the Longhorn Tri half-iron distance.

Now, that doesn't mean that I won't sign up for the Aquabike division (the swim/bike portions only). Although I reserve the right to change my mind about that, too.


Mark said...

Oh, Shorey, I'm sad that a couple of things conspired to lead you to decide to not do the half :-(

Although you are relieved at your decision, any chance you may again change your mind?

Re-read your own Austin Tri race report -- you did so well at that Oly distance, were "on" and seemed all smiles. You're strong and ready for the half! You're tired and feeling it because you've trained hard. Taper into the half and that'll turn into a peaking rested strength (it's not the training that makes you stronger -- it's the recovery from the training).
Only 3 weeks left after working so hard for months -- and half of that is taper:)
It'll (hopefully) be 10F cooler in 3 weeks? Nobody in Austin enjoyed their runs after their rides this past weekend!
"How did you do?" isn't necessarily a "What time did you get?" question -- answer it as if you were asked "Did you enjoy it?", "Did you meet your own goals (riding the second half of the course faster than the first half; or knocking a minute off your swim; or only walking through water stops; whatever)?"
Of course, don't do it injured -- that will mess up your running season.
(Oh, and there isn't a Motive. And 3M isn't until Jan :)

I hope you change your mind again and we'll see you out at the Longhorn Half ...

MikeW said...

It takes a strong person to sign up to do things, but an even stronger person to back off when your body and mind are telling you to take a break, even though you know your training friends are going to give you a hard time about it. (see above comment as an example)

You've got two small injuries, a physical one, and mental fatigue. Let them heal, don't make it worse.

Maybe it doesn't sell out, and you can still change your mind in time.

On another note, this may get me in trouble bue... I can help but think... shame on your coach for knowing that you had a half ironman at the end of the season, and not making you run longer runs.

Erin said...

I'm sorry to hear this season didn't turn out as you planned, but congratulations on a great season none the less. You have improved tremendously - I was certainly impressed.

And, you can always change your mind. See how this "relieved" feeling goes, then reevaluate if you starting getting FOMO again.

Katie said...

I agree with Mike...listen to your body and maybe wear earplugs for a little while;)

Congrats on a great season!!!

Suellen said...

FWIW I think you needed to make the right decision for YOU. If this is it, so be it.

I will say this though. I used to get all freaked out about the "how did you do question" until I found that my friends asked because they were genuinely interested and invested in some way in my progress. I've now been high-fived when it's been good and commiserated with when it's been bad. And slow as I am...and I am undoubtedly slow...I no longer dread the question.

Take care of yourself.