Most athletes are at that point in the season where they are getting ready for their big races. The countdown is on, the taper is laid out. Some may be aiming for races later on in the season but they’ve been at this for months. Not I. This little comeback trail I hopped onto began in May and it’s beginning to take shape.
Most people use a race like Nationals to cap off their season. For me it’s going to be breaking the seal. For years I have wanted to return to my short course roots, I have talked a lot about it and written about it equally as much. Like so many others I have spent the past million seasons focusing on long course, and I was fortunate to experience much success with it. But I began this sport 20 years ago as a short course and series athlete and for some reason…. maybe fear….. I was afraid to return.
When and why did short course: sprint and olympic (intermediate) distances become an afterthought and a byproduct of long course? So many athletes these days tell me they feel inadequate for not doing a 1/2 Ironman (70.3) or longer. They don’t feel legit without it.
A sprint race is equivalent to an elite 1/2 marathon. An olympic (intermediate) distance race is an elite marathon. 75 minutes to upwards of 3 hours is nothing to be apologetic about! After a few seasons of burnout, a brush with overtraining syndrome, burning the candle at both ends….. and almost quitting this sport…. the past 6 weeks have been amazing. I have finally committed myself to short course and Nationals (sprint) will be where I begin that journey. Again, some end their seasons at Nationals and I begin mine. Trust me this won’t be a journey that ends in “Whoops…. I WON!!!!”. I am working hard for every piece of this and freaking loving it.
Knowing I am behind in fitness, knowing I won’t be anywhere near peak form in Omaha…. I really don’t care. Being back at it feels good. Hell it feels great. I don’t mourn the speed I wish I had, I am in absolute love with rebuilding back to it and past it. I know in my heart that my fastest days are not behind me, they are ahead of me. They won’t come by August either, but with continued hard work, consistency and health (most important…. health) they will come. My bloodwork is now perfect, my sleep is sound, and the break was not hard to take. I explored, I adventured and I gained new skills (skiing!) that I will forever keep as part of my program. I will never again forgo me fresh powder because I need to ride my bike 6 hours. I will no longer give up any chance for adventure for …. well for anything.
I executed my first really hard cycling session yesterday. There have been seasons I have focused entirely on numbers, and while those seasons were important ….. I lost touch of the feeling. You know…. that feeling. The feeling where you nudge up against impossible and hope you can hold it. The numbers were fine, it was the feeling that I was so excited about. When an effort puts you toe to toe with yourself… no longer how long you have been at this or what you are preparing for…. it teaches you a lot about being you.
I am very comfortable with being uncomfortable, and I have now just begun to tap that in these sessions. I have patiently been piecing all of this together and regardless of how fast I am or am not….. I can go to that place.
I am on what seems like a major road show this summer. Eight days in Lake Placid. Nearly 3 weeks in Buffalo. Another 8 in Lake Placid then to Omaha and to Maine. Sprinkle in there my regular race announcing gigs and the summer got full. I booked myself too full to jump into any races prior to nationals (I announce them all) so that will be it. And that will be the beginning of a lot of racing for me.
The road show has been an adjustment. I almost DNF’d this Buffalo trip. I confess to getting homesick, mostly for my husband (he will be here this weekend!!!!!!), I am sleeping on an air mattress (let me add though….. it’s the mac daddy of air mattresses, it’s amazing) and I am working in coffee shops, at kitchen tables and anywhere I can. There are days it feels like I just want to be home, and then I remember this is such an opportunity to really dive in. I get to spend time with my siblings, which hasn’t happened in years and who knows when it will happen again. I get to bring incredible athletes across finish lines, and I get to train in different places. Luc is here too having the time of his life…. more on his journey in another post, because he’s done some incredible things.
It’s good for me to be all over the place this summer. It’s good to be able to be on the fly and for Luc to get the chance to do this as well. It’s one big adventure after all.