Wednesday, June 26, 2013

L2L Triathlon

My 6th Loveland Lake 2 Lake Triathlon was truly one of my favorite races.  Although the swim course includes a 400m run to transition from the lake, and the bike course is truly difficult with over 700ft of elevation gain in the first 15 miles, I can't help but love the atmosphere of it all.  I had no idea if two months of total training would have me ready or 3 weeks at elevation would have me acclimated, but I knew I would have fun.  The race started off well with my fastest swim split in 6 years of racing L2L which had me excited for the bike.  However, excitement was quickly replaced by exhaustion.  The high elevation mixed with the steady climb to Horse Tooth Reservoir had my legs burning, and if it weren't for the wind, I would have been  really hot.  Riding through the canyons, I was whipped right and left by the winds.  I decided that I need to buy a new rear wheel because I cannot handle the wind very well with the solid disc wheel and my Specialized Shiv.   The disc wheel will be reserved for flat, non-windy courses from now on.  My bike split was one of my slowest ever on the course, and while I would like to blame it all on elevation gain and wind, I simply am still gaining confidence back from two wrecks last summer. 

On to the run!  This course is one of my favorites because I love the concrete and asphalt; there is something about the way my Brooks T7's feel as I push off on the smooth ground and the power I feel finishing on light feet.  What made it even better than normal were two high fives, one from my long time friend Scott Dahlberg who was running a relay and to another friend Beth O'Brien.  The high five seems like such an insignificant touch, yet the energy packed in one when you have been competing for hours gives hope and encouragement to fight through the walls.  When all was said and done, I ended up with my 2nd fastest time on the course, with my fastest swim and run split ever recorded in Loveland, and it was good enough for 4th place in the professional triathlete division.

This summer is one that is different than any other.  I do not have a set plan of workouts for the summer.  Instead, I am going week by week, seeing how I feel.  Spending more time taking in the beauty of Colorado even if it means a little slower on a bike ride or on the run.  Remembering and taking in the love of it all is what drives me and I couldn't be happier here in Colorado surrounded by the beauty God has so graciously given with some of the finest people that anyone could ask for.  My next race is unknown as I continue to just roll with the punches.  As always I appreciate your support and prayers.         
   2:30.10 (Swim 28:22, T:55, Bike 1:23.4, T2 :30, Run 36:42)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Be A Mental Warrior

     I am sitting here on a beautiful but chilly day in Colorado Springs.  After just one week of training, I am still excited every morning to take off and run, bike, or swim.  Since I am spending my summer in Colorado to train and race at altitude, I am finding myself with a fair amount of free time.  I fill it by resting, eating, and calling my athletes and recruits; however, lately, I have also enjoyed some time with my thoughts. 
     Today just so happens to be National Running Day.  This is a day when many will find the courage to get out of bed and run or squeeze a run in over their lunch break. 
     Motivation is such a key to success when it comes to training.  As a coach I do my very best to find new and exciting ways to motivate my runners, through words, creative workouts, and even my own training.  I have seen my fair share of great runners; some were great because God was generous with their genetics, and others were great because they wanted to be.  The famous quote, “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work” is true.  Hard work comes from determination and a bit of stubborn pride.  So, the question at hand is why do some work hard and some simply sit back and watch others succeed? 
     Training your mind is the same as training any other part of your body.  It takes repetition, time, and a lot of effort.  You weren’t born lazy; it is a habit that was by choice.  To beat laziness, to beat that instinct that tells you to give in, takes time.  I have found it is easiest to beat this instinct of weakness by surrounding yourself with those who are also motivated.  It seems so simple!  It's the same as if you wanted to quit smoking, it would be easier to be around people who don’t smoke.  If one wanted to learn French, it would be a lot easier to move to France and learn it there than to move to Mexico. 
     Some athletes have what it takes and will work hard, but at the first sign of struggle they pack it in.  They make an excuse and ride that excuse until the weather changes and a new day comes with new circumstances.  A mental warrior takes the hiccups of life with a grain of salt.  I’ve found that it is important to have short term memory and forget what you cannot control and focus on what you can.  If someone does that long enough, I have no doubt that person will be successful. 
     This attitude does not just help one in training but also in healing.  There are many runners who are frequently injured, sick, or, in other words, out of commission.  I am in no way attacking those who are truly injured, but there are many who are injured by choice.  They refuse to listen to their bodies and talk themselves into being injured or sick because the road ahead is hard.  This may be because they have been babied too long.  I do not want to rush someone back into commission, but the next time you are feeling sick, possibly hurt, or unable to train, STOP, take a few minutes and reflect.  Acknowledge that the journey ahead will be hard, remind yourself of the goals set, and then decide if you are injured or just scared.  All the coaches, friends, and family in the world cannot change your mental status the way you can.  To be healed one must emotionally or spiritually heal oneself.  The word “GO” appears in the Bible nearly 1500 times.  I dare you to read the Bible and find stories where the sick and injured are healed by staying in one place, complaining that they cannot do what they want.  When Jesus heals, he does not tell people to sit and wait.  He instructs them to GO!  John 9:11 says He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” 
      Today, tomorrow, and the day after that, get out of bed and be strong.  Be a mental warrior because life will not be easy.   The motivation to train and the mental fortitude to stay healthy can be found from within.  You may need to reinvest in your Faith, or the people around you for strength, but do not give up.  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9