Last year was a tough year for me. Running over the past several years, I had never been challenged to the point of quitting or being pulled out of a race. The challenge of racing became more difficult as Swim and Bike were added to the mix. Leading up to Elkhart Lake, I was concerned that I would have issues. I had done some brick workouts and I had swam the distance, but I had never gotten in a lake with several hundred other people. This scared me to death. When I finished this race, I was anxious to do more, even though there were parts of the race that were difficult.
Taking on Steelhead
After a semi-successful race at Elkhart, Steelhead was the next challenge (and the only other one on the calendar for the year). I prepared as I saw fit. I skipped workouts, I didn’t challenge myself to be better, I made do with my current level of fitness. When we got to Benton Harbor and it became real, I kept thinking to myself that it was all achievable. If I could make it out of the water, I might have to bike slow, and I might have to walk a bit, but I could do it. As I have posted about before, I was kicked in the water and ultimately pulled from the race. I can admit that I wasn’t prepared and that if not for the kick, I still don’t know that I would have finished the swim. I had never finished that distance before (even in the pool). I was a mess about it. There wasn’t anything that I could blame other than myself. It made me question my ability to compete in triathlon, at least at the longer distances. But the desire to cross the finish line at a full Ironman distance race was strong. After the race, I told myself I was going to wait to make a decision about racing again, and the truth at the time is that I didn’t know that I was going to.
Mustering the Courage to Race Austin
With Emily behind the idea, we picked up a coach and discussed our ability to train for and race Austin. I was worried, but had enough confidence in myself that I could do the work and make it happen. Our coach believed it too. He put me through the ringer and gave me workouts that made me uncomfortable. He challenged me to be a better athlete (a bigger challenge than he thinks it is). The trip to Austin had me nervous. I still felt unprepared. Ultimately, I finished the race and the best part of it, time wise, was the swim. That was surprising to me.
Why I Wrote This
I think it is important to have confidence in yourself and admit where you lack. In 2015, I lacked motivation and I lacked the will to do the work. So far in 2016, I am taking the workouts seriously and making sure that I meet my goals. My first race this year is another Texas race and I am very excited that I will be racing with my brother. I can’t wait to see him at the finish line and congratulate him on his first 70.3, as he did for me in Austin. Over the summer, I have a few shorter races and will be volunteering for the Door County 70.3 so that I can help support Emily in her quest for her first 70.3 finish. But the pinnacle this year will be finishing in Chattanooga and earning the title Ironman.