Like the cold winds that sweep in with the passing of summer, triathlon season has also begun to see its leaves turn. Mornings are too dark for early rides, cool winds require long pants, open water swims are too cold, and rain drops, dark clouds and cool temperatures dampen my spirits. Yet, with one last warm, sunny, bright summer weekend, I got in just one more race of the season at Pavilion Lake.
On the drive out, I remember feeling unexpectedly relaxed. On any other race day, I would have described myself as jittery, shaky and fluttering. Yet, on this morning I didn’t sense any form of nervousness or apprehension.
This was my third race of the season, and I now know what I am capable of doing. I know that I won’t drown, my legs won’t stop working, I won’t get lost on the course, fall off my bike, or otherwise fail. Four months ago, I would have thought that any one of those predicaments could be possible. Being confident and trusting in my abilities is so reassuring.
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the season. I felt strong in the swim, killed the bike, but the run was a challenge, as always. Heading into winter training, I know that my focus will be on my running. Sometimes I feel as though I am carrying concrete slabs for legs. I continually scream quietly, yet loudly to myself, “you’re light as a feather; run like a Kenyan; mind over matter, mind over matter.” It doesn’t seem to do a thing, as I continue to saunter along like a 2 tonne elephant. But that’s all in the process of getting stronger and better and learning. Along with expensive chiropractic and massage appointments, early mornings, tired work days, shin splints, blisters, road rash, chlorine hair, higher grocery bills, and more money spent on new equipment, coaches and gym memberships. It sounds kind of off-putting, yet I don’t foresee myself quitting anytime soon. It’s just part of the package.
This journey has also been much easier because of friends, family, coaches and training partners who support me. Most recently, I will never forget when my best friend came out to cheer me on and not only screamed my name at every turn along the course, and made me feel like a champion, but also spontaneously became one of the volunteers, helping with set up and timing. She was also the loudest one and perhaps the only one shouting in excitement when I won second place in my age group (it was a small event). She was proud of me, and I know that she would have been proud even if I did drown, fall off my bike, or get lost on the course. Sometimes racing in the sport of triathlon can be lonely, daunting and unforgiving, but with the support of those around me, the voices in my head yell at me with a little bit more encouragement, telling me that yes, my thunderous thighs will propel me to victory.
As I head into the off season I am already planning next race season, and feeling excited for more stories of my training through the next eight months as I continue my journey to one hundred forty point six miles.
The air is cold, the light is dim, and the assault of mass bugs flying at my face feels like a sprinkle of fall showers on my skin. The end of the season is nearing at a rapid pace, and I
don’t yet feel ready to move my training to the boring confines of indoor tracks, treadmills, trainers, and bland artificial-blue pools. One more race on Saturday, and then winter maintenance kicks into high gear. I can already feel my motivation fading, and I know that I’ll have to dive head first into inspirational videos, music and colourful tri books and magazines, just to keep myself craving the next race. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the change in weather, or the darker and colder mornings, but I’ve hit a bit of a mental wall. On top of that, my muscles haven’t been cooperating, and I have tightness and annoying pains all down my quads and calves. It’s just been tough lately to find that ounce of drive to get moving. I am also slightly jealous of all the pros heading down south for their winter training. If only… *sigh* Perhaps a jaunt down to my local run shop for some retail therapy will help the slump. In the meantime, I’m giving my new ‘runsie’ a test drive tomorrow morning.