Finding Chinks in the Armor

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I have been fortunate in my year and a half as a pro: I have seen almost constant progression in training and race performances. This hasn’t come easy. It has been the result of incredible coaching from Greg Mueller and guidance from others – Kim Whitney, Kim Brackin, and Al Lyman to name a few – support from Ad, my family, and friends, and a constant drive to be better in everything I do. Every day. Better diet, better recovery, better technique, better movement, better strength… you name it! All in the name of speed on race day.

We took this to the next level, and after a strong showing at CAMTRI Ottawa I would say I pushed harder than I ever have in my training. Going into CAMTRI West Des Moines, I was excited to showcase the fitness, power, and speed we had seen in training sessions. But something didn’t quite feel right – Had I been not eating enough? Not recovering well enough with changes in our housing? Was it nerves from placing perhaps too much pressure on myself? Was I just plain tired?

I acknowledged these but kept my head down and kept my mind on the positives. And everything caught up with me as I toed the line in Des Moines. Rarely has my body let me down when I went to step on the gas. I felt so drained half way through the swim and could barely bring myself to do more than jog to T1. What was going on?!?! I kept pushing and finallyyyy found some semblance of my legs in the last mile of the run to cross the finish line in 8th. However, it was a painful day in more ways than one.

This truly bizarre and disappointing performance led to some serious reflection as well as lots of hard questions. I poked holes everywhere I could to figure out what it was that got me to that point. After some hard conversations, Greg and I concluded it was a little of all the things I mentioned above that built up and broke me down, leading to the frustrating day.

Since then, I’ve been taking each of those chinks in the armor and addressing them one by one. I took a few days of rest, complete with some awesome ice cream concoctions! I'm focusing more than ever on the power of my mind to make (or break) me. And perhaps most importantly, I'm making peace with the fact that I'm human. Bad days happen. I am using the experience to grow and am finding a new confidence in myself as a result. With these changes, I have been hitting splits, watts, and paces that I couldn’t have come close to even a few months ago in my training. 

One of my mid-season break ice-cream sundaes! :D

One of my mid-season break ice-cream sundaes! :D

I hesitated sharing this whole kerfuffle, because I pride myself on my positivity and grounded-ness in the best and worst of times. I was ashamed for not being “stronger,” and keeping better perspective over the last month. But I decided to share with you all, because I truly believe that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger...If you choose to embrace it as such. It can be the hardest thing to do, but I’ve discovered how freeing it is to allow for those bad days, embrace them as learning opportunities, and moveeeee on. Being nicer to yourself will enable you to be open to the valuable learning that can come from them.

I am emerging from the last few weeks focused, calm, relaxed, and happy with armor stronger than ever. I am really looking forward to toeing the line in just over a week at one of my biggest races yet – WTS Edmonton! – and invite you to watch the race at 1pm PST on July 29 at TriathlonLive. Stay tuned after the race for a recap of my experience stepping up to race the best in the sport!