Monday, May 17, 2010

Don't Be Anxious for Success

Everyone wants to be successful at something, be it a career, an athletic endeavor or simply being a good husband, wife, parent or friend. And rightfully so; aiming for something in our lives gives us a sense of purpose and drive; a reason to get up each morning, and hopefully a sense of fulfillment. But I think that it is important for us to not 'expect' immediate success. I do not claim to be an expert on this topic, but I simply wanted to voice some thoughts from experience in of course the realm of sport.
They way I see it, sport is a journey, and hopefully a lifestyle for many of us. You may be working towards your first 5K, or perhaps you are doing your first triathlon this summer. Maybe you are going to start yoga classes soon, which you have never formally done before. It is completely different for each one of us; but ultimately we all (likely) want to 'become better than we currently are'. I am often asked by various people getting into the sport of triathlon about my background; and most are shocked when they hear that I am currently training for my first Ironman. My journey with this sport started back in 2000, when I began racing local event back in Champaign, Illinois. Those first two seasons were so much FUN! My motto was "this is not going to be serious" (so much for that one). But in all reality, it was not serious. It was truly fun; I met a new group of friends; we rode together, I learned of this strange 'town sign sprint' thing on the bike... I crashed, many times...I got injured...and I realized that I liked this 'lifestyle'. The next step was that I realized I had some 'talent' at triathlon and headed to Colorado Springs to step it up a notch... honestly, it was a double whammy that I got to go to the Olympic Training Center; all I really wanted to do was move the hell out of the midwest. What a great excuse!

2002 through 2005: I raced ITU events internationally, I had some big success' and some big injuries, I met my now husband (thank buddha for stress fractures, or I would have been off at some race instead of at the Mt. Evans hill climb where I met him!). I realized I did not like this 'draft legal' stuff so much, so I started doing half ironmans. I royally SUCKED on the bike, but everyone told me 'time in the saddle will fix that!' so I optimistically believed them.

2006: We moved to Austin, Texas for Derick to go to grad school; I was still racing and of course working to pay the bills as well (since racing was not accomplishing this goal). I continued to creep up in my results. Slowly, my running got stronger and my cycling got less-weak. Fast forward to current day, 2010, where after 10 YEARS of this stuff I have finally seen some consistent, solid results. I guess they all were right... time in the saddles DOES work, but noone told me that it would take 10 years of it?!
Point being...slow and steady is the way to go, people. You know the turtle and the hare story? In sum...

The story concerns a hare who ridicules a slow-moving tortoise.
In response, the tortoise challenges his swift mocker to a race. The hare soon leaves the tortoise far behind and, confident of winning, he decides to take a nap midway through the course.
When he awakes, however, he finds that his competitor, crawling slowly but steadily,
has already won the race.

Don't be anxious to be successful. This is not to say that if you experience quick success, you will then come crashing down. I am not saying that; I am simply saying to be patient, and if you enjoy the path that you are on, good things will come. In the world of sport, there are no quick recipes for success. And if you think you have found one, I hate to tell you but it will probably come back to bite you in the ass at some point. There will be ups and there will be downs; such is life. Often times, the biggest 'downs' have turned out to be the biggest 'ups' in my journey because it forced me to step back and realize that there is more to life than triathlon. They forced me to enhance other parts of my life, because when you are pushed out of the race scene by no choice of your own for 2 or unexpectedly 10 months, what other choice do you have? It then becomes about perspective and how you choose to REACT to the cards you are dealt.

I could go on and on, but the simple message here is to be patient. Put in hard work. Be smart, listen to your body. Allow yourself good days and bad days. Savor the success' and roll with the punches when the results are not what you had hoped for. But most of all, be sure to always be able to step outside of yourself every so often and be sure that the path you are on is fulfilling to YOU. Everyone has a lot to deal with in their own lives; if you worry about what others think if they see a lackluster result, get over my swim coach in college told me when I whined about a bad swim, "Kelly, there are thousands of people over in China right now who don't give a damn about swimming." He also told me when nerves got the best of me, "Bug, (my nickname; I looked like a bug when I swam), you are going to go and race, and no matter what, we are going to put you back on that bus and take you back to Champaign." So there you have it. Do your best, be honest with yourself, enjoy the journey and most of all, don't ever take yourself too seriously. There's always tomorrow.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rev 3 Tri Knoxville - Enough with the sprint finishes...'s official, I need to work on my sprints. Yep; that is me, above, in 3rd. Not 2nd. Maybe I'll take to the track after this race write up and bang out something like 10x200's. I blame it on my swimming background. I happened to qualify for State Meet when I was young in about every event EXCEPT the 50-free. It's not my fault, it's in my genes! Nonetheless, despite the 2-second differential between myself and 2nd place (me being on the 'losing' end), I am extremely pleased with the 3rd place at Rev 3 Tri Knoxville from the weekend.
I went into this event excited that it would be over with in 2+ hours, and also very relaxed as my focus is on Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June. I love to race, so I was ready to see what my body would give me for a short 2-hour event, but I was also realistic in that my training has been focused around something much longer. I flew into Birmingham, Alabama on Friday, where my good friend Laura picked me up and we headed 4 hours north towards Knoxville. However we made a quick detour to the Quintana Roo headquarters Chattanooga, TN where I was able to meet much of the awesome crew there, including Brad DeVaney, the man behind the magic (designer of the new CD0.1). Not only have they created an amazing bike, but the people behind the scenes are just good people. It was very cool to see where the bike started, how it evolved and became what it is now; which is a kickass machine!Saturday found myself abnormally tired, waking up late and only getting in a 30 minute ride that morning; I just nixed my typical 15 minute run. Sometimes you just have to listen to your body and go with what it is telling you. I spent the day getting my bike dialed in with Tres from QR, doing a brief interview with Mike at (expect to see a review of the CD0.1 on their site soon), pro meeting and enjoying dinner with Laura and Derick's parents who drove in from South Carolina. With family and friend support for Sunday's race, the pressure was on to give them all a good show. "Check" on that one!
As you have likely heard from others, Sunday morning was COLD; especially coming from Austin where the previous week had greeted us with many 95-degree days. It was probably in the upper 40's or low 50's, but a beautiful morning. With a 7:50 AM start, I was not complaining; it was cool but the sun was shining. We had a non-wetsuit swim, which you'll rarely find me complaining about, and it was not so much the 69-degree water but the air which made things tough. We took off promptly at 7:50-something, made our way down the Tennessee River into the sun and then headed back towards the exit. Swim was nice, nothing too exciting, and I found myself exiting with friend and fellow American Dede Griesbauer. I had a pretty entertaining transition, exiting with my shoes in my bike and one shoe popping off; a nice man handed it to me, so I put it in my mouth and ran my bike to the mount line, at which point I put the left shoe on and then hopped onto my bike, fiddling into the shoe which had not come off; and slightly laughing at myself. Let's just not acknowledge that this mishap definitely took an extra 2-seconds...moving onto the bike.This course was beautiful! Winding, hilly, cold, and gorgeous. It was quite challenging to get any water, but I managed to drink almost one bottle and also get down two PowerGels on the 25-mile course. I held my position, and found myself leap-frogging with Dede and also Sam Warriner. I had very numb hands and feet, but I have had this before; you just have to be very careful and cognizant of your handling skills in this situation. I powered up the hills loving every minute of it and hung on for dear life on the fast descents and winding turns. Before I knew it, we were back at transition and I exited the bike in 7th place or so; and only 30+ minutes to make it up!

I fumbled to get my Zoot TT2.0's on, yet I was probably not the only one, as my hands would not work too well. I finally go them on and took off... charging hard to catch some women! It felt GREAT! Amazing the difference in your legs from 25 vs. 56 miles of cycling. I ran myself into 3rd place by about mile 4 (at which point I then realized I did have feet underneath me), which honestly kind of surprised me when I heard "40-seconds from 2nd" from some friends. Yikes! If I could keep this up, I'd be at least top 3 or even 2nd. I kept pushing hard, and finally saw Sam Warriner up there at about mile 5. I could tell I was closing on her, but it was slowly. And I was working HARD! We came through transition with about 1/2 mile to go, and I was able to run even with her. She jostled for position, trying to keep me behind her. This is why I was no good at ITU racing; this irritated me. For most, it would fire them up. I felt strong up a slight hill and was able to pass her without too much added effort, and we were then within about 400 meters of the finish. I SHOULD have put in a big surge here knowing that I lack a final kick, and tried to gap her. However I didn't, and she put that surge in with less than 200 meters to go, gapping me, and I did not have a response. Of course I was a bit frustrated, but I knew that she would be tough at the end. We cruised into the finish, and I was, yes, ... 2-seconds behind her. However, I came to find out that I had put in a 35:26 10K effort, which I believe is the fastest I have ever run for the distance. So, I am not disappointed in the finish, though I will say that it is OFFICIAL: I CANNOT SPRINT! But hey, at least I can make the finish exciting! Fellow ladies, do not fret: if you are in a sprint finish with me, you'll probably win it. :) Of course, I'll try my hardest not to let that happen.

Having come here not expecting too much, I was very pleased with 3rd and I cannot say enough about how awesome this event was. Heather and her crew with Rev 3 Tri had an amazing setup. It was spectator friendly, they scouted out a beautiful and challenging course, and made this so easy on the competitors in terms of logistics. They have done great things with this young series, and I am stoked to see what Quassy holds in store in just 4 short weeks. If you have the chance, check out the Rev 3 Tri series! You will not be disappointed; and if you have friends or family attending, there will be plenty of action for them as well outside of the event. Congrats to all of those out there who raced and thanks to all of the fellow pro women for making it an awesome event. The entire layout from transition to the finish line area made it feel like a little 'community', as I saw may of the same people both Saturday and Sunday; from the guy with the Woodle dog, to fellow professional and friend Jessica Jacobs and her husband and daughter with their pup decked out in a Sport Beans jersey... by far the cutest dog in attendance.

I have opted to not race for a few weeks, which is very hard for me, but to stay put in Austin and focus on preparations for June. The down time will be good, the volume will be big and I hope I survive. But I am excited at the challenge and I am extremely pleased with how the first few season races have gone thus far. Life is good, I feel extremely lucky to be able to do this and I am loving every minute of it. Derick and I decided that after every 'good' race I have, we need to go and have tex-mex and margaritas to celebrate. That said, I must go and get my swim done as the margaritas will taste a bit better after that. Thanks for stopping by and see you out there!