Sunday, January 16, 2011

Conflicting Goals

"One of the most maddening parts about timed racing is that speed - the very component that truly defines success - is largely incidental. Whether it's swimming, biking or running, speed is overwhelmingly influenced by terrain, weather, equipment, and a host of other factors. Did you shave 10 seconds off your PR in the pool because of hard training or was it because of that new full-body rubberized suit? Was that 5K PR due to smarter pacing or was it a tailwind pushing you along? Nowhere are these questions more prevalent than when you're on the bike, where wind speed, road surface, tire choice, equipment aerodynamics, topography and even air density play a role in speed. How fast you go is all that gets recorded in the official results, but it doesn't even come close to telling the whole story of what it took to get there."

- Jordan Rapp, "Power Play", Lava Magazine

The above is an excerpt from a Lava Magazine article on training with power (which I don't, in case you were wondering). This concept that speed is incidental is one of the first lessons that Coach Carole taught me last year. Carole was far more concerned about the execution of my plan (for a given workout or race) than she was about my speed, since it is all relative.

That brings me to this quote from Mirinda Carfrae from the "Chasing Down a Ghost" article, also in Lava Magazine (by Susna Legacki) ...

"My goal was to race my own race, and I did that. I knew that people would ask about Chrissie (Wellington, 2009 champion who did not race due to illness), but I really know that I raced my best on my best day and I just wanted the focus to be on that."

So, what does all of this have to do with me? With week two of IM training behind me, I have been struggling to articulate my triathlon goals for 2011.

I can say without question, on a perfect day, I would like to break 12 hours at IMTX. To refer to my teammate Mike Moore's (no relation) term and one that I have used before, it is my BHAG. Big, Harry, Audacious Goal -- a stretch goal that is still achievable.

But I don't want to define success at IMTX based on a time goal. My goal at Cedar Point was to race my best on my best day, to adapt to the conditions and know at the end of the race that I had done my best. I feel like I got 90% of the way there (see my run race report for details).

So, for IMTX my goal will be the same - to race my best race. Will my fitness be there to break 12 hours? Will the conditions help me or hurt me? I can control the first (well, some what, more on that ...) but not the second.

IMTX will be my third Ironman but the first I have trained for with a significant work travel schedule. The workouts that suffer the most during travel are typically the ones in the pool. Hotel pools are invariably too small and a lot of the small towns I visit do not have other facilities available close by.

Going through this exercise has also reminded me of why I compete -- I enjoy having a goal to work towards, I like this lifestyle and I like pushing myself from time to time to see how I am doing (e.g. a race). What I have also realized though, is that after 3 years in the sport, that improvements in race times will be harder to come by and I have to be ok with that, unless I am willing to sacrifice something else (time/balance, money) to get faster, which for the time being, I am not.

Like race day, I am going to do the best I can through training. I am going to get in all of the workouts that I can, and especially the long training and intervals and know that when I show up on race morning that I am racing as a wife, mother, full time employee and athlete. I will be mentally prepared to push hard to race my best race - regardless of the time on the clock when I cross the finish line.

p.s. I ordered the Cycleops 2 Fluid Trainer - product review to come!

17 comments:

Kelly said...

I think it is so good to make your time goals the least significant goals. I think in the end we feel so much more fulfilled with a well-executed race no matter what the time is.

Laura said...

Give it your all... do your best on that day! I like that!

glutenfreetri said...

I love that you know that your goal is to race as a wife & mother, not just an athlete : ) You are going to do great!

Velma said...

You are going to make your goals - I think that travelling will force you to 'make it work'. It usually works that way with me. GOOD LUCK!!

Andree said...

I love your perspective!! especially with long distance racing there are so many things out of your control-I can't wait to celebrate the achievement of your goals with you at IMTX :)

Caratunk Girl said...

Really well said and written. There is so much out of our control, and when someone asks about the race, often they just want to hear about your time - not that you got a flat and changed it super fast or that you got kicked in the face or the wind was ridiculous or whatever...

Andy Rosebrook said...

I have always been of the philosphy that at the end of the day if you can look yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, "Did I give my best effort today for the circumstances that were presented to me?" and answer, "Yes!" Then the whole journey was a success. As you said the time on the stopwatch does not tell the full story.

ONEHOURIRONMAN said...

Ride the course (a lot) and become intimate with it. That will be good for 15 minutes because you know when to push it and what lies ahead..

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

Very well said Anne. So muc is unknown about this race for us since it is the first year/

How is Lake Woodlands going to be? No wetsuit probably, will it be a slower swim, will it be overly crowded? Will we be covered in duck crap?

The bike could be fast but if the wind is blown out of the SE it could be a very difficult 50 miles back to the Woodlands?

Oh and the part that is going to be most uncertain is the weather. Last year on may 21st it was 95 degrees in Houston. That would make for a long, slow day!

So just training the best you can and the race the best you can on the day that is given to us!

Ironman By Thirty said...

Great post! Just to quick share my story. Last season, I had 3 HIMs. However, my fastest one (5:29) was by far not my best race. I clocked a 5:39 a month after at a race that had a super challenging bike course. After finishing, I knew that was my best race of the season regardless of the time.

I love the BHAG term!

Good luck with your training!

Josh Scobey said...

Love your post! Hard work and a good plan always come before the numbers on the clock.

Ryan Oilar said...

Great post Anne!! In short course racing you can contol these a little more, but so much can happen in a 8+ hour race! I can usually set time ranges, but I don't focus on those. Your power, heart rate, cadence, nutrition plan, and race day execution are things much more in your control and not the elements.

Sounds like your mindset is great and you've got a good handle on not focusing on the finish time...you'll do great!!!!!

Jamie said...

I love that philosophy. Especially over the IM distance, even the smallest difference in temperature, wind, elevation or humidity can change EVERYTHING.

The longer you are out there, the bigger the impact is. The only thing you can control is how smart you race. I think I'm going to adopt that philosophy. Hope you don't mind. :-)

Colleen said...

I definitely think goals other than "I want to finish" are the way to go. But I love the goal of racing your best race. Because really... isn't that all that matters in the end?

Mark said...

Yeah... I hear you. It is hard to not let your time matter. I mean, that is really the only way that we are evaluated. I find that the less I care about my time and just "let it happen" the more apt I am to race really well. I think being too pre-occupied with your time can cause you to "think" and we both know thinking is bad.
Don't think. Do.

mhutto said...

great post! Last year I trained harder than ever in prep for Boise 70.3 and was frustrated in the end due to my time. The biggest factor was the dam wind that came from all directions. The good news was that race fired me up for a 39min half iron pr(5:22) at vineman a month later! It's the journey that we remember most! Good luck with your training and balance this year!!!

Anthony said...

Good for you! Its not easy to put your goal out there for everyone to see. I'm sure it will help you achieve it!