Half-lete: Triathlon Race Report, Long Beach Triathlon

I was reading an article recently offering advice to readers about how to become an elite triathlete.  Above all else, the answer was “consistent training.”  Soooo easy to say…in my dreams, I’m a crazy good athlete.  I eat clean, I get enough sleep, I stretch+foam roll, I make all my training sessions, I have coaches that push me/encourage me, I am PERFECT.  Oh, and also, I have the fastest bike on the market.  In reality, I’m not even close.  I don’t even have a great excuse–it’s not like I have 3 jobs or 2 kids at home to feed–or whatever else takes up so much time in life.  But I’ve always been one for balance.  Moderation.  Great in many aspects of life, but most athletes aren’t terribly balanced.  I love and admire them, but their life is their sport.  That’s part of the reason they are great at it.

So, I’m a half-lete.  Half of the time, I’m awesome at training.  I impress myself with my ability to push myself.  I have come really far in 3 years’ time.  (3 years since my first tri!  I still feel so new!)  I had never been on a speedy road bike until 2 years ago.  I had never really learned to freestyle swim until a year and 1/2 ago.  And now I’m at the point where I consistently finish in the top 10 in my age group.  But as I talked to the winner of this weekend’s triathlon–her gear set up right next to mine, I was a little jealous.  She of course had a ridiculous bike (race wheels! aerodynamic water bottle!), which she said “makes all the difference.”  But she also mentioned her consistent training this past year, a year with no injuries & how she cut 10 MINUTES off her time from last year.  10 minutes in an hour and 20 min race (how long it took me anyway) would’ve had ME in first–it’s huge.  I was starting to think I had gotten as good as I was going to get (5th place in my age group), and then she had me thinking–could I take 10 minutes off of my time?  What part of the race would those 10 minutes come from?  At least 3 could be shaved off my bike if I somehow came across $5,000 to buy a really speedy one.  An easy 3 minutes off my swim if I actually liked swimming enough to train for it–or spent any time in the ocean.

And then the “half” part of the half-lete kicks in: really, Kristy, $5,000 for 3 minutes?  And you know there’s no decent pool nearby to swim in.  And let’s not even start on the running I’d have to do to shave even a minute off my time.  Ugh, let’s just stop all this thinking about training & take a nap.  And then have a beer.  And a cookie.  And watch a movie.

But I got up this morning (after an amazing post-race night’s sleep), the morning AFTER a triathlon–and wanted to run.  I NEVER want to run at 6:00am.  I checked my newly posted race stats online shortly after & realized, after comparing my times with similar distances over the past three years–I clocked my fastest bike and run times ever!  My run was a full minute faster than anything I’d run before (maybe 3 minutes faster than my average), which–in a 3 mile run–is huge!  I came home from the race mildly pleased with my performance only to be totally overjoyed by it a day after.  I hit the gym for a quick swim after my work day.  Normally  I would take post-race day off, but I was too excited.  This is when the athlete comes out.

It may always be a bit back and forth with me, or maybe, one of these days–everything will align just right & the motivation will be there to really reach my potential.  I’m on my second week of eating (mostly) clean, shoving vegetables down my throat & sprinkling flax seed on pretty much any food that can be sprinkled upon.  It’s pretty interesting what your eating habits are when you genuinely focus on food as fuel for your body.  I’m not focused at all on calories.  I’m focusing on eating non-processed, whole foods…the fewer ingredients on the package, the better.  I literally picked 10 of the highest rated nutritional items in my Nutrition for Endurance Athletes book & bought them & ate them (and then rotated these out for other ones the next week).  Confession:  I have no interest in cooking at this point in my life (unless it’s for a party or something).  I don’t need or want recipes (so complicated).  I just chop the vegetables, grill the meet, cook the grains on the stove, pour on some seasonings high in antioxidants & eat it all.  I wouldn’t even season it if it wasn’t for the book telling me to.  I want to really make the connection between what I eat and how my training sessions go–my energy levels, my ability to recover quickly, etc.  So I hope this is a long term habit I’m building.  Quinoa is so much easier to cook than I imagined.  I always thought people cooked that stuff for hours.  Ready in 12 minutes?  OK, maybe I can become a whole food nut…who drinks Miller Lite on occasion, of course.

So, two more races on the calendar & I LOVE both of them.  The L.A. triathlon is coming up in two weeks, and it’s my favorite.  Nothing about it is easy (the rough water swim, the long bike, and the uphill run that KILLS)–but it’s so cool to ride through the streets of L.A. without any cars!  And it’s super awesome because so many of the pros compete–you get to see the best in the world!  Tonight, I sound very much like an athlete.  Talk to me again on Thursday when happy hour sounds more appealing than the thought of jumping in that dirty Bally’s pool one more time & fighting for a lane.