By Crystal Anthony
“If it’s a reward you’re after, you’ll have to wait longer and perhaps do something else to win it; benefits are less tangible at this time.”
Interestingly, this was my horoscope from Sunday, the day I raced Timberman 70.3. It was perfect. A typical race blog I guess is about paces or tactical strategies or key race moments but the fact is there was nothing very spectacular about my race. And that is not a good sign, at all. The flatness itself said: it’s time to call it a season.
After some quick success my first season of racing triathlons last year, I hit some bumps on the road to taking racing to the next level. The problem with racing is that benefits are pretty much always measured tangibly – did you earn the podium or the check or the time you were going for? And I had to leave Gilford, NH knowing that the answer to all of those was no. So I read the above quote and thought, yes, there are so many things I have learned this year that are making me a better athlete and person but they are internal in nature and they are the kind of things that take time to produce results. I have to tell myself this because the racer in me is frustrated!
Racing well is both a science and an art. By using science – principles of nutrition, training, and recovery – improving is easy at first and being the unknown who comes and beats people who’ve been doing it for a long time is a great ego boost. I won’t lie. Perfecting the art is much harder. Finding a way to fit training and racing into real life, knowing just how much to push yourself and when, and pulling it all together on race day are messy things to learn.
Everyone’s body is different and no matter how much advice I seek out, ultimately, I have to know myself. Coaches have helped me to see my potential, and to push me to new levels. They have kept things interesting with challenging, creative workouts. My greatest strides have come when I believed this for myself and decided to go for it. I worked harder than I imagined I could, and achieved more too. At the same time, I spent this past spring recovering from being so overtaxed that my adrenals and immune system all but shut down!
To compete at a high level, I have to be right at that line between enough challenge and too much. I have to take care of the little things like sleep, nutrition, strength training, flexibility, yoga, massage, balance – but not at the expense of losing my enjoyment of the sport! Ultimately, I compete because I love it! There is nothing like it. I have always been drawn to competition since I was a kid and it is something that is with me for life.
When it comes down to it, I use whatever is out there – rivals, money, time standards, podium spots – as motivation to drive me. However, true satisfaction for me is in discovering just what I am capable of doing. When I ran a 2:47:16 at the Houston Marathon, honestly the overwhelming emotion I felt was, “Holy s#@* how did I run that fast?” Missing the Olympic Trials Marathon by 16 seconds, well, that was a bummer but paled in comparison to having just reaped the benefits of so much hard work and dedication. None of that would have been possible without the teammates by my side the whole way. Somehow, working together with like-minded people makes you all capable of that much more.
I like results. I like winning. What I am learning as time goes on is how much I like the training and the camaraderie along the way too. End results take patience, patience, and more patience. There, I said it! So wait longer, do something differently, say the stars… Don’t worry, I will. I know I can get the results eventually!