"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!