If I ever made it look easy, then hand me my Oscar, please. Because on most days, I struggle just to wake up at 4:30am, let alone put my body through rigorous activity. I would never lie and tell you that this whole Ironman thing is a piece of cake…that the swim, bike, run life is easy even at your best. The truth is, the road to glory is usually paved with setbacks and standstills, sometimes mixed with a injury (or three).
I’m no stranger to pain; I actually think I’ve grown incredibly tolerant to most of it. But what I haven’t been too used to in my life thus far is self-doubt. I’ll admit I always train right and play by the rules, just enough to get me across most finish lines with more confidence over speed. But the last couple of weeks have been harder for me in the self-awareness and self-love categories. I sometimes feel like I’m not advancing fast enough and I’m beginning to dislike certain aspects of the sport that I have grown to love so much.
Let’s break it down. Here’s what’s really gettin’ me low...
That new bike of mine. Barb. She’s a beauty and all, but she’s been anything but my best friend lately. She’s actually been my biggest struggle. I’m trying to remain patient as I work hard to mentally block out my fear of falling off the bike (which is hard when you’ve had a mother almost lose her life to a bad cycling accident). I am also slow to be accomplished in a few areas which include spending enough time riding in the aero bars (which I can do but still fear) and drinking out of certain hydration stations on the bike (like the back bottle mount). Also, my seat…is the worst. Being uncomfortable on a bike, especially when on it for hours and hours, is one of the major downfalls of this sport. To have pain in the groin take away from strength in my well-trained body, is a big issue and needs to be resolved immediately. I’m giving that expensive Adamo seat of mine a week or two more to break in, and if nothing changes, I’m tossing that bad boy to the curb.
So if we’re sticking with the comfort category, then my next complaint is something I think we all can relate to. It’s called BREATHING. Yes, you know, what we all need to do to survive. Well, this past Saturday I went on a 60-mile ride with some teammates (hey Jenn, Jodi, & Stephanie!) and went up paths I never ventured up before. I knew hill training was necessary because every race ahead for me is on a significantly hilly course. Well, there was one longer climb that was fairly steep, but mostly just long, and though I was in the right gear and had my climbing game face on, I literally couldn’t catch my breath as I inched up at what seemed like 4mph. I almost started to cry and suddenly felt like giving up and clipping out. The little engine that usually powers me up was breaking down, and it was pretty apparent to me that it was mainly because my body is positioned in such a way that I am less upright than on my road bike, so air doesn’t come as easily. Does that mean I need a new bike fit? I need to re-adjust? Or maybe I just need to CHILL OUT. I think it’s a mixture of all three. I’m looking into it.
So what’s the purpose of this post? I’ll tell you.
It’s simply to showcase the struggles, or my struggles in this case, of training. I’ve never met a person who had a breeze training for anything, whether it was a 5k, marathon or ultra race. What we do with those struggles is what gives us character, and makes us smarter athletes. Instead of crying over spilled milk and cursing at Barb the bike, I will continue to give her a chance and I’ll fine tune her with every ride, so that by the time I toe up to my Ironman, I will look back at this and feel proud. They say to try and try again, that “practice makes perfect,” and I don’t think I even want to aim for perfection, but I do want to achieve confidence and comfort.
Don’t we all!?
So this upcoming Sunday, May 31st, I’ll be racing the Black Bear Triathlon, olympic distance, which will be my 2nd triathlon of the 2015 season. This Pennsylvania race is sure to be a challenging one, so I’m not going to lie - I’m nervous, but I will get through it and I do know that my swim and run game is in a good place. Cycling will be something I take one turn at a time. I can’t promise you a place at the podium, but I can promise you a finisher’s medal. You better believe I’d crawl to the end for one of those!
So keep on keepin’ on. And know that I’m right there with you…just listen for the heavy breathing :)
Fighting struggles, strengths, and seat adjustments,