That Dam Tri

“That DAM Tri”!

When I signed up for this race, I didn’t realize how true this statement would be…I was just thinking how funny the shirt might be – can you say Conversation Starter?  However, the race proved to be one of the hardest races I have participated in.  Not because of the course – it was fairly straightforward and simple.   Not because of my fitness – I was prepared physically.  Not because of the competition – I had a terrible race and still managed to be 3rd in my age group – (slower than normal F45 – 49 age group)

It was hard because I gave my chatty, negative voices room to bring their A game and mess with my mental game!

The Dam Tri was the last race of the 2014 season for me and I have been looking forward to 2015.  There are some fun and exciting things coming up for me in 2015.  I was selected to be a part of a new Triathlon team – Tri Team IGNITE – I am very excited about the team and the awesome people I will get to rub shoulders with for the 2015 season.  I have 2 Half Iron events in my plans, Gulf Coast Triathlon in Panama Beach and Augusta, Ga in the fall – both important mile markers for me on my journey to “Iron-Mama” status.  As I have been looking forward to the coming year, I have been evaluating where I am as an athlete and what improvements I need to make to successfully achieve this iron dream of mine.  The Dam Tri reminded me that often, I give my biggest competition a free ride… after all, she’s sitting right between my ears.

The irony of my bad race day…..

Thursday and Friday, before the race, I relaxed on my couch and read a book by one of my new team mates.   Triathlete EQ : by Dr. Izzy Justice.  I loved the book!  Chapter by chapter I thought to myself…”Oh yes, I have a weakness in this, I need to make sure I am practicing that”.  The whole book resonated with me.  I practiced some of the skills outlined in Izzy’s book during my training for Beach 2 Battleship.  However, as all my races this year have been shorter races, I ignored practicing any mental/emotional skills.  Why would mental fortitude be important in a short race!?!  Obviously, this was a mistake.

The Great News!

Crappy days can be your best opportunities for learning.  The pain and aggravation of the bad day can be a good way to remind me that I want to avoid experiencing that again.  So, to that end and for your reading pleasure, here is my plan to avoid a Dam Tri:

Know who you, embrace whatever your “weird” is and be prepared to manage your needs

I know a few quirky things about myself – I like order, I do NOT like the unknown, I’m very sensitive to things being the way I like them, I plan way too far in advance, I don’t roll with the flow all that well.  And yet, for this particular race, I didn’t know the course, I didn’t check all my equipment before race day, I decided to do a few things I had only tried a few times, I kind of just showed up.  This started my race day all out of kilter.

Don’t make that mistake again:  I will embrace my “WEIRD”.  I know I seem weird when I can tell you what the elevation profile of a course is and how I plan to manage it.  It’s okay to do this even for an unimportant Dam tri…it makes me feel happy and prepared.  I know I seem weird when it is a priority for me to drive the course to see what I will see on race day.  I know I seem weird when I am checking the weather and packing outfits to accommodate any possible weather scenario.  I know I am weird when I am making list after list of things I need to plan for that might possibly happen…you know…just in case.  I know I am weird…and I will embrace this…even for a little dinky Dam Tri.

Know why you are racing…if it’s for the t-shirt or the food…make sure you’ll be getting both!

 Please refer to the previous paragraph.  I know I have my own special quirks.  But…I really like my race t-shirts.  The Dam Tri didn’t have one.  I LIKE my $70 t shirts and just sort of expect to get a t-shirt in exchange for my registration fee.  Seriously, no t-shirt!?!  And no post race Salsaritas either…Dam Tri!  UGH!  This dialogue dampened my excitement for the race.

Don’t make that mistake again:  I know why I race and as much as I like my t shirts, they are not the reason I race.  I love the chance to test my training.  I love the feeling of crossing a finish line.  I love the pre-race energy of anticipation, nervousness, and excitement.  I love the chance to improve a previous time.  I love to race!  I do love a race t shirt but it is not why I race.

Manage your entire race…Sometimes 30 seconds in T2 is time well spent!

I am historically slow in transition.  I am not entirely sure why and have been working on making improvements.  I decided that putting socks on takes too long.  I know you should never try something completely new on race day.  So…I ran without socks one time about a week ago.  It wasn’t so bad.  AWESOME!  I will save at least 30 seconds in transition by skipping my socks.  OOPS!

Don’t make that mistake again:  30 seconds is worth comfortable feet.  I know there are those who see this issue differently, but my priority is comfortable feet.   I hope I will feel that same way if I miss a podium spot by 30 seconds.  But for now, 30 seconds will help shut up the whiner in my head.  My screaming blistery tootsies made it very difficult to shut out the other negative voices telling me I might as well walk.  And walk I did.  Sometimes those voices sounded so reasonable.  Discomfort at the end of the race is inevitable….I will make sure the discomfort is not from something I could have prevented with good choices.   Ouch…can’t decide what hurts worse…my blistered toes or regret at giving up.  Either way – OUCH!

Shake it baby…shake it!

 Yep….I need to learn to shake it.  Shake off the mishaps.   This race was a race of equipment malfunction and I didn’t shake off any of it.  Bike, HR, Shoes….

My pre race bike ride alerted me that something was way off with my gears.  I’d like to be able to articulate what was wrong but because of the panic this caused, I am not very clear right now what happened and in what order.   In a nutshell, I had 2-3 gears that would work – sort of.  My chain wouldn’t consistently stay on my rear cog or respond when I tried to change gears.  It did, however, make a noise that had me wondering if, at some point, my chain would spontaneously combust.  With just a few minutes to race start and a wetsuit that requires A LOT of energy and skill to get into, I made the best decision I knew to make… keep it in my big ring, use those 2.5 gears and hope the course wasn’t too hilly.   My emotion….defeated!  The race hadn’t started and I felt defeated.   I let that feeling of defeat race with me.   Talk about a Dam Tri…I’m afraid that may have been an unrehearsed mantra for the day…I’ve never felt a need to muttered the name of the race over and over as I raced, but it seemed appropriate on this day.

Don’t make that mistake again:  Keep perspective and a full and working mental tool box.

In hind sight there were several happy things about this race, and yet, because I didn’t shake anything off…I missed some potentially mood altering events.

  • Shake it off: I was able to get into my wet suit without any embarrassing mishaps…AND it still fit in spite of some extra pounds I have gained. Shazaam! I should have channeled my inner super hero.
  • Shake it off: I was only able to fit one of Rich and Tonya’s open water swim clinics into my schedule. Just this one swim clinic gave me more confidence than I typically start the swim leg with…can’t wait for more…I’ll be swimming like a mermaid!
  • Shake it off: In spite of my less than perfect gear shifting, my bike leg was still respectable.
  • Shake it off: Happy, inspiring people race triathlon…one competitor couldn’t ride up a hill so she got off and happily pushed her bike to the top, hopped back on and continued the race. She was dead last but came through the finish line HAPPY!
  • Shake it off: My emotional roller coaster during this race was amusing…at least in hind sight. One minute ANGRY at myself, the next choking up at things like; inspiring competitors, safety cones identifying the halfway point of the run, happy supportive attitudes of triathletes, etc. etc.  I think my emotions burned up the calories of a Half Iron Distance.
  • Shake it off: Trying to discreetly blow a snot rocket only to be surprised by a cyclist passing me.  I typically only brave the snot rocket when I am riding solo. After a quick apology to the poor rider, she says, “I saw you getting ready to blow and avoided it.”  Really!?! What am I doing to alert my fellow riders that I am going to blow…I thought I was pretty discreet.
  • Shake if off: Failed attempts at getting happy could have made me laugh…I tried to follow advice from Leigh Ann and smile during the run to make me feel better.   Okay, smile and high five. So, I lifted my arm and high fived a lady and, as that seemed like too much energy, totally dissed the guy right behind her. He had happily put his hand up for his high five. The look on his face was sad but a little funny.   A guy a few feet back looked at me with anticipation. However, as he was wiping who knows what from his nose to his hand… I intentionally dissed him.
  • Shake it off: The leg injury I have been nursing for the last 5 weeks was almost unnoticeable. Not 100% but not race altering.
  • Shake it off: There was chocolate at the finish line. Okay…no t-shirt and no Salsaritas but there was a candy bar.

Don’t make that mistake again:  I will learn to boogie….or at least add some additional mental tools into my race day strategy.   I might have another bad race, but it will not be because I have ignored the mental training part of my sport.  I will not make the mistake of ignoring things that ARE within my control.   Sigh…..

“That DAM Tri”

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