Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Learning the Lessons & Blog Cuts from Chrissie Wellington

The FL 70.3 didn't exactly go "as planned" but there are some other things that I noticed in me.

a) I am not as fit as I thought I was. Even with solid power numbers and "respectable" power to weight ratios, I am still to heavy and now more drastic measures will be taken. Doctor appointments have been made.

b) Mental health does effect your racing. Although Lorrie and I have never been happier together, being unemployed and having that "hanging" around my neck (ouch) is something you cannot train for. Race week had multiple job interviews and running around dealing with different HR screening types, the loss of the Disney.com Manager job in Orlando (a gig I REALLY wanted - and was ultra qualified for, in the end it went to a guy with consumer website management experience. I have commercial/industrial), and the cherry on top - the death of my Uncle Bob in Minnesota and another friend (30) both from Cancer. During the race I just hurt all over. Now some of that was from getting hit in the neck, but I look back thinking that it may have hurt more because of what was filtering in the background of my mind. Don't get me wrong. I was racing in the moment. I really was. On race day there was no snap or explosive strength which is my key asset.

Take a lesson from Chrissie Wellington. I think she wins because of her mental strength which powers her physical strength. I think she is the best triathlete in the world right now, including the men. She is changing the sport and in time, may redefine it like a Paula Newby-Frasier. IMHO the top people in the sport (ever) are Paula, Dave Scott, Mark Allen and Natasha Badmann. Chrissie may join that group shortly. What do these folks have in common? Mental strength paired with tremendous physical abilities.

Here is a bit of Chrissie's latest blog. With what I mentioned in mind, read between the lines here. She is getting stronger.

You cannot achieve your stretch goals until you are truly happy in your own skin.

learning the lessons
May 19th, 2009
We all have expectations for ourselves, in training, in racing and in life in general. But what happens when we don’t meet those expectations. When, in our minds at least, we have performed badly and in some way ‘failed’? I guess what I am trying to say is. How do you cope with not reaching your goals?

For me my response, attitude and approach to perceived ‘failure’ was put to the test on Sunday at the Columbia Triathlon. I had a number of reasons for wanting to do the race. To test my short course speed, to visit a part of the USA that I hadn’t been to before, to support the Blazeman Foundation for ALS (one of the nominated race charities) and to break out of my long course comfort zone.

Like any race I enter I went into it wanting to win. Not expecting to win, but aiming for the top nevertheless. And what happened? I felt flat for the whole race. The water was cold (but a lot of the girls have the body fat of a beetle, so i wasnt the only one shivering). I saw the splash of feet as the main pack got away, and when it came to the bike I froze. I urged my body to break into the next gear. It wouldn’t respond. And on the run. I pushed through. But again, my speed and time didn’t equate to the effort I felt was putting in. I crossed the line in 6th. Smiling, but inside incredibly disappointed. So the question is….how do you deal with this?

For me the answer is to look back at the reasons I did the race in the first place…. And then try and make a more objective judgement call on winning and losing, success and failure.

I took myself out of my long course comfort zone, and yes – it hurt. But that’s a good thing.

I visited a part of the US that I had never been to before, saw some beautiful scenery that reminded me so much of being at home in the UK.

I met some fantastic people, before and after the race, and had the opportunity to put medals around the necks of amateurs of all abilities.

I was able to meet Robert Vigorito - the race organiser I had heard so much about and now, having met him, I have immense respect and admiration for.

And looking back I can see some of the mistakes I made. And learn from them. Not getting enough rest on the days before the race; not giving myself the space I need to focus my mind; not swimming fast enough at the outset to get on the feet of the front pack; not wearing enough clothes for the cold/wet conditions. Having the body fat of a beetle. These are all practical lessons to carry forward and learn from. Of course I also need to deal mentally with not performing to my best. And I think that is the biggest test of all. Coping with perceived ‘failure’ is hard. Many of us are perfectionists, and set the highest standards for ourselves. And so we should. But I have to look at the bigger picture and see the race as a rung on the ladder. Look forwards. The world won’t stop turning just because I have a bad race. If anything it will make me even more determined to improve. So I will learn, bank it, move on…with even more fire in my belly!

Oh, and for those that are following my friend Billi…the weather on Everest has improved and she is on her way up to the top of the world…..the summit push is on!

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