Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Be the Best Version of Y-O-U.

I thought of this concept today in my swim. Especially in this crazy world of triathlon, I think that we end up comparing ourselves to others more than we know we 'should'. This is something I do and I try so hard not to do...but inevitably, I find it happen more often than I'd prefer. Let's just think about the concept. We see someone else do very well in something. Suddenly we may feel that we actually did 'even worse', or we then compare ourself to this 'gold standard' and find that our confidence takes a bit of a nosedive. (Am I alone here? I sure hope not, or I am talking to a wall!) The flip side to doing this is, how does what someone else does have any bearing on what I myself do? Well, doesn't. So, therefore, if I am only comparing ME to ME then it seems I can always be realistic, honest with myself and on a continual quest for self-improvement. Problem solved.

We all have insecurities of some sort, I think it is just human nature. There is the very rare triathlete who just 'has it all' in terms of strengths (think Emma Snowsill...that girl is an animal across the board! In her case, big things do come in small packages!) I find this is a blessing of the sport, we all have someplace to always be striving to be better. I have always considered myself a very hard-worker. Grades never came easy, and while some may think I am 'blessed' with athletic talent, I beg to differ...I have not moved since I exited my mothers womb. I cannot sit still for the life of me, and since I was 4 years old I have been actively involved in sport. This does not make me special in any way, just set me up to be a lifelong 'athlete'. Seemingly never seeing things 'come easily' I think has been a great thing. I am used to hard work, and I try to see a positive in every failure that comes my way. I try to ride the highs as well as I can, and just take it all in...likewise, while the lows just suck...I try to use them to my advantage and figure out how they can make me stronger.

I don't want to get too (much more) long-winded...but I think that the mantra "Be the best version of ME" is a good one to remind yourself of. In the end of this big long journey we call life, noone is really going to care what place you finished, or what your best time was...but the kind of footprint you leave on the earth and in the eyes of those you encounter will be remembered. So, (and I will tell myself this as well), be easier on yourself...remember to pat yourself on the back a little more often, enjoy the challenges and simply be the best YOU possible.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Know When to Hold 'em...Know when to Fold 'em

Sometimes, only 'we' know when enough is enough. Actually, it should always be 'we' who know that more than anyone else, but it is easy to ask opinions, and try to draw on others advice to know what choices to make. I try to make my own decisions in most things I do, and when it comes to training, I make most all of them. Derick is my 'sounding board' and while in past years asking his advice often led to an argument, these days, I can take it much more reasonably...well, sometimes I take it, others I just do my thing.

I had a nice week last week, and on Tuesday night headed out to the Jack and Adams 3rd summer Splash and Dash at the Pure Austin Quarry up in north Austin. This is such a fun time, I did the first one and had to skip #2 having just competed 2 days prior to it. It may not sound like much, but a 750-meter swim followed by a 3k run can really wear you out! I just use it as a short, hard swim/run workout...I even did a 1k run before and after it, so I ran 5k total. I was the first woman, as James Bonney was just too fast to catch on the run...but in this weather (6:00 PM, was probably about 95-100 degrees), your limits are somewhat set by the conditions, not by your aggressiveness...meaning, I was only going to go 'so' hard on that run. But, a fun time had by all and how cool...we go compete for 20 minutes and then hang out for 2 hours! Fun times.

I found that on Wednesday and Thursday, for some reason, the hard day of training Tuesday really stuck with me and the feeling of 'heavy' in my legs/quads just did not want to let up. I was planning to do the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon on Sunday (today), however after a hilly ride with Derick on Saturday, I had to way. I even returned my race back to J&A's, so that if someone else wanted to race they could. I know it is not a big deal, but this was a 'team race' and they had divided everyone into 3 teams of 8. I was on Team Zane (Castro), and there was also Team Drew (Wolff) and Team Jack (the 'J' of J&A's). I knew it'd be a fun time, but I KNEW that after riding 3 hours on hills, my quads were just toast. I made a good call, and this morning, after sleeping until 8:30, I managed a 9-mile run and was very surprised at some of my mile splits! Hopefully that means good things to come. It sucked to have to pull out of the race, but I think it was by far a smart decision on my part.

BIG NEWS on the Source Endurance "Racing Front"...Saturday was the Austin AT&T Downtown Crit...a HUGE bike race that brings in the names such as Tyler Hamilton, Freddie Rodriguez (supposedly?) and a few others...this thing kicks off at 2:00 downtown and runs 'til about 9:30. I headed down there with Derick at about 4:30 to watch one of his athletes race, and I have to give up props to PAUL HURDLOW who was 4th in the Cat 4&5 race and looked INCREDIBLE out there! This guy loves to ride his bike and works his ass off, so he deserved the result. Hot on his heels was SE's Marketing Man Joe LaFico, who WON the Mens Cat 1,2,3 incredible fashion. We all watched this from the top of Six ("Lance's Bar" downtown), and we could see 1/2 of the race from here. LaFico really sat in the whole time until the end, working his way up and finally going for it. Bike racing is not only about the strongest person, but so much about tactics...these guys really showed it. BUT WAIT! Not done yet. Today was another crit in which (Derick raced too but thank God he was safe and sat up @ the end, as to avoid the sketchiness of the finish and help keep me more sane) Stefan Rothe of SE also took a win, beating Tyler Hamilton in a sprint finish of the mens pro race! I believe Ian Dille was second, as well? WAY TO GO GUYS!

I have to say, watching this bike racing really makes me feel like a complete pansy with what I do...but hey we all have our 'thing', they revel in bike racing, I thrive on slow, steady pain for 4+ hours. It's all a bit insane, but we just keep on comin' back for more...

Have a great week & thank you for reading. Next up is Buffalo Springs next weekend followed by a trip to Santa Fe, NM and then Durango, CO...VACATION!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eagleman 70.3...A Little Breakthrough

Well I just returned from Cambridge, Maryland yesterday to what feels like almost 'comfortable' weather conditions by comparison. Who would imagine in Maryland it could be so hot and humid? I guess it is just so far NORTH of Austin, I'd thought it just couldnt' be that hot...boy was I proven wrong! I have a full story about the weekend on my website, but I'll give a quick run-down of the weekend and how the race panned out.

I only opted to do this race about 3-4 weeks ago, as I was not sure if I was really 'ready' to do a half-ironman quite yet. But I figured, go out, see where I am at and take it from there. Plus, financially it was feasible as the Baltimore airport is pretty reasonable to fly into. So, I talked my parents in to meeting me there (my dad has a cousin in Annapolis, MD who we stayed with) and we were off.

The race was on Sunday (June 8th) and we all arrived on Thursday evening, with plenty of time to get situated and get in to Cambridge on Friday. I felt very relaxed the whole time, which I believe was in part due to the fact that I had had some big 'emotional' things going on the week prior which somewhat wore me out...however, that being said I somehow found the 'right place' in my mindset, and I think this allowed me to say, "Enjoy the weekend with the family, stay relaxed and just go out and race." I try to simplify things as much as possible especially if it is a bigger race, as to alleviate nerves.

Sunday AM we awoke to mid/upper 70's and what felt like 90% humidity...seeing that we were in the swamp lands, it probably was 90% humidity. The gun went off promptly at 6:45 and we were off, making our way through the Choptank River. Swim was uneventful, though I had to work my way through a few people at the start, I found VERY clear water for the bulk of this swim and was really in my own little world as there was noone near me for most of it. Unfortunately 2 women (Dede Griesbauer and Joanna Zeiger) had taken off, and had 1-2 minutes on me when I dad told me '3rd woman' in transition, a bit disappointing but hey, what can you do but keep on going. That is what I told myself, I could not get 'too comfortable'.

I was off on my new Scott Contessa. The bike was oddly enough a rather quick 56-mile ride for me today, not in that I was FAST but moreso that it just did not feel long...I am often times SO anxious to be off the bike by about mile 40, but today I just kept chugging along, never to be passed by ANY WOMEN...a FIRST for me! I down my whole gel flask (which had 5 gels in it, about 550 calories and 1000 mg Sodium) with no problem and even had to go pee on the run. So, I guess you could say that I really nailed my nutrition.

Upon bike exit, I found I was still in third...sweet! Though the conditions were extremely tough by now and I knew the run would not be easy, I also knew that this is a strength so use it for all it's worth. I took off with my green Zoot shoes (matching my new green Zoot racing outfit), J&A's visor, and my stock of gels to hear the announcer say, "There goes Kim Loeffler! She is looking smooth and comfortable..." Whatever. I just laughed to myself.

Without a doubt this was mentally one of the toughest 13.1 miles I have ever run. I started off very conservatively, knowing that going too hard could result in a DNF. I went through a few 'waves' of feeling good/bad, one of the 'goods' being between miles 4-6 before the run turnaround. I think the vast amounts of ice I was dumping down my suit helped a lot, as well as the water-stocked aid stations. I also took 4 gels on this run, knowing I needed the sodium and simply the calories (again...never felt bloated or really hungry!). From miles 7-10, I struggled...I honestly thought my pace was down to about 8-min/mile, but I kept plugging along as I was being told I was closing in on 2nd place. The thing about a day like today was that, you just could NOT push harder...I knew that if I got greedy and tried to do that, I could risk having to drop out...or I could stay WITHIN MYSELF, strong but controlled and hang on to 3rd. With $3000 up for 3rd, I opted for strong and steady. It paid off as I finally saw the yellow flags about 1/2 mile ahead lining the finish chute.

All I can say is, it felt damn good to finish knowing I had securely gotten 3rd (and come close to 2nd!). My parents were there, along with a few friends as well and the announcer finally knew my name by the time I finished (I knew he would!). Thank you to my sponsors (Team Zoot, Scott, Spyder Optics, Advanced Rehabilitation, Jack and Adams) and of course my parents for making the trip to support well as my fiance Derick who was in South Carolina with his family, racing as well, for all of his constant support and guidance. As I alluded to in the beginning, I approached this race a bit unsure of what to expect, but I think that having gone through some 'life things' the week prior helped me straighten a lot out and I was able to somehow find great clarity in my purpose here at this race. I felt strong, and I felt like I belonged among the top 3. (I will post pics as soon as I receive them! Um...anyone have any pictures from the event?)

P.S. Check out a short mention of the race as written in Inside Triathlon!