Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Does this make me a bad triathlete?

Today's Stats:

Sleep: 6 hours (pretty good for me)
Workout: 2850 yd master's swim. 57 minutes.
Breakfast: 2 Pop Tarts, 20 oz Diet Dr. Pepper
Snack: Powerbar Harvest Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bar
Lunch: 6" Subway Club on wheat w/ swiss, all the veggies. Cheddar Sun Chips. 32oz Diet Coke
Snack 2: Vending Machine Crackers
Dinner: Rubio's bean and cheese burrito, chips, 22 oz Diet Coke.

I'm listing this for a reason, not to boast about my crappy eating habits. I've been going to these noon master's workouts every Wednesday for a month. Yes, today was my fourth time. I typically get to split the lane, though I did have to circle my first time.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember me posting about pool work earlier in the year, before things started going squirrelly. I was zeroing in on 3500 yards in an hour. At a minimum, I was hitting 3000. Today is the first time I've come anywhere close to that in a good long while, and I feel pretty good about it. I mean, the coach's workouts are tough, and I'm still learning all this base pacing stuff, but that's where the point of this post comes into play.

Since I started into this whole triathlon adventure, I've done a lot of things I never thought I would ever try. A half marathon. Two, soon to be three half Iron tris. 9 other triathlons. Several layers of goofball workout that I don't even want to think about. Along the way, I've learned a lot about myself, both what makes me tick physically and mentally, and how I relate to this bizarre world I inhabit. I've met loads of people, many of whom I'm lucky enough to call friends and some even good friends. I wouldn't trade any of this for the world, believe me.

So what am I on about?

During this time, I've also gone through my periods of obsession, where all I think and talk about is practically triathlon. Where I count calories and schedule my training sessions to the minute. I've had periods where I swing the pendulum all the way across and drink too much and stop sleeping and eat like a jackass. What I've learned so far is that none of this really affects my ability to race. I can swim and bike as hard as I want. I may gain a minute or lose two, but I never move the needle too far. My runs are getting better as my foot heals and I see good things in the future.

But now I'm weeks away from Vineman, my second half of the year, and while I originally wanted it to be my "A" race, the one I just killed, I find that now I don't care so much. I know I can finish it. I know how I'd like to do, but I also know that if I don't do it I won't be heartbroken. Frankly, I'm getting in touch with my motivations in the sport and they aren't what I thought they were.

I had a talk with Mark a week or so ago and I was telling him about some workouts I'd been doing with people who weren't as fast as me or didn't have the same endurance. Usually, I just hang anyway. He got a little concerned that I was sacrificing my training. I probably am, but the thing is, I know that if I set my mind to it, I'll finish the damn race. I learned that at Wildflower this year. I'll just get it done on race day. I might not do it as fast as maybe I can but I'm a pretty simple machine. Point me in a direction, turn me loose and I'll find the end of the path.

What I'm learning is that I don't care so much about my times. I don't care about my position in the field. I care about what I do on the way to the race. Who I train with and get to know. Who I can help to meet whatever goals they have. Mostly, I find that what I care about is that I enjoy the time I put into it and the people I spend that time with. As long as that's going on, the racing seems to take care of itself.

So you tell me, does that make me a bad triathlete? Should I be more gung-ho about the numbers? Should I be charging for a podium that I'll never reach, or am I onto something? Maybe my mind will change after Vineman and I start gearing up for 2010. Maybe not. I sure as hell don't know, but I'm having a lot of fun with the puzzle.


ann marie said...

Yay! I don't think it makes you a bad triathlete. I think it makes you a better person.

Corey said...

I'll echo Ann Marie here. Running Tris doesn't strike me as a team sport. It's an individual thing, and you get out what you want. If having fun, making friends (and helping those friends) is what you want out of it then you're doing great.

Those folks who look at you funny when you say you don't care about time do so because they care about their times. Which is fine. They're going for something different.

Personally, I think this is the most positive post you'd done in awhile...

Ben said...

i think you're spot on... granted i'm in no way able to hit a half-iron just yet, but get me in the right direction, and it's go time. the people you meet while training and the afterparty make it all worth it. race day takes care of itself.

i don't care about times either... at the end of the day, my 759th-out-of 1500 place gets me the same medal as the guy who finished fourth. but i finished.

PatrickD said...

Dude, I'm with you. I've been caring less about the numbers recently, and I am all about the experiences. It doesn't make us better or worse triathletes. There is no "should" in this whole thing. It's what makes you happy. If you're happy doing what you're doing, then you're doing alright. At the end of the day, who cares about the numbers, anyway. People remember you for who you are, and you're a great dude to be hanging out with. Keep on trucking, my friend :)

danban said...

that would make me a bad triathlete too i suppose :0)

Manasse said...

It just depends on what your goals are. If your goal is to enjoy yourself...then you truly have to be happy with that...and not make excuses for "times" or "A races" later. You'll just drive yourself crazy if you do that.

My current goal is to not fall off my bike ever again. That would make me happy.

tinaparker87 said...

You are not a bad triathlete. You are a triathlete. You do what you and when you can. You can go the distance and you have fun (well sort of) when you do it. I hope you are still around when I drag my butt to SD to train with my teammates. Once a teammate always a teammate!