The recurring lesson of the summer came to a head at this Race--my feelings of competency in the sport are currently based on the company I keep. During the school year (off-season) I'm with my friends and colleagues at work, where I can claim best triathlete, second-best cyclist and top-3 runner status. I don't mind this status one bit.
My ego started its beating this season with the Aquathon series, where I repeatedly exited the water in the bottom third of the pack. It continued at the Masters swim classes where four lanes of swimmers do 100s on 1:50 or better. And it culminated at AG Nationals, where the hard-core and the gifted converge to remind me that I have plenty of work to do.
I had a few acquaintances racing as well but didn't feel close enough to them to "hang out" pre-race. There are many benefits to having a strong support system in the tri community and passing time together before a race is one of them. For whatever reason I've stayed on the fringes of tri communities. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Finally it came time to warm up. I had heard the Lake Michigan water temp was in the 60s and we all know my dislike for cold water. It turned out to be quite pleasant (thank you wetsuit).
The horn was off and I gave it what I had. At one point I felt a bit flooded but eventually settled into a groove. I checked my watch upon exit and it was still at zero so I'd have to wait to see how it went but it felt strong and somewhat fast.
Wetsuit removal was just okay. I think I want a new wetsuit. My old one doesn't fit well and has some tears in it. Or maybe all wetsuits are hard to get off. The real frustration was buckling the helmet. For some reason I couldn't line it up and I lost at least 30 seconds on it. Boo.
Mount was uneventful and I was off on the bike. It was now cloudy and breezy but I was already feeling fatigue. After all, it was the first time I biked after swimming all season. I kept up a race pace throughout the mostly flat course but my 18.4 MPH final average was disappointing.
T2 went well thank goodness, and the run began. Wow, do my legs feel heavy. And plodding. Cumbersome. Slow. I was doing 9-minute miles and not feeling like I had anything left. These were not the times I was putting out last year--further evidence of plateaued fitness.
Disappointment rose when I checked online results a few hours later. Swim time was acceptable, but the other times (not to mention the soreness the rest of the day) wasn't what I had hoped, and the top half of my division didn't happen.
But I have a plan. I'll consult with a coach to get a strength training regimen started in the off-season. I'll read up on Ironman training and nutrition. I'll scale back on bike-run workouts to give my body a break.
As for my sense of competency, I figure I have three choices:
-Compare myself only to the people in my life who don't do what I do
-Compare myself only to the people in my life who do what I do
-Compare myself only to myself
I'm working on Option #3.