Saturday, April 17, 2010

Best laid plans

I think the worst part about being injured isn't the injury. Sure, it sucks to be in pain and it sucks to not be able to do things that you used to be able to do. Still, the worst part -- at least for a control freak like myself -- is what it does to your plans. Having grand plans and seeing them fall apart is very frustrating to me.

It started with IMAZ. My big plan was that I'd do Big Kahuna (BK) and after that I'd know if I wanted to move up from a Half-ironman (HIM) to an Ironman (IM). If I didn't like doing Big Kahuna, I wouldn't sign up for IMAZ. But, with the injury, I didn't do BK. So then I had to decide if I wanted to do IMAZ blind. (I decided to do it, in case you were wondering.)

The next plan to fall apart was my plan to cross-train like mad all winter. I ended up taking off most of Dec. to heal up instead. Then, it took me a lot longer to get back in the groove than I expected so I wasn't putting in the hours or the training I was doing last year to get ready for BK.

The end result is that I'm doing Wildflower as my first HIM. Undertrained and injured. Gulp.


But, you know, as it gets closer, I'm getting excited! Yeah, I haven't run more than 6 miles at a time (I'll have to do 13.1 miles at Wildflower and a lot of it involves HILLS) and I'm in pain every time I go over 4 miles, but it's Wildflower! The atmosphere is awesome and I never had any expectations of finishing anywhere but firmly in the back of the pack even if everything had gone according to plan.

Not having expectations makes it easier to have fun and not get frustrated when my plans fall apart.

I've noticed this season that I've gotten caught up in expectations -- wanting to be GOOD and not just participate. Last year I was just so happy to be out there and to watch myself gett better and most of my results thrilled me even when they were kind of bad. But then I got good enough that podium finishes were a slight possibility at the shorter distances. That changed everything for a while. There was pressure. Pressure to workout, pressure to push myself to work harder, pressure to perform at races.

My injury has forced me to remember why I started doing these things to begin with because it's totally messed with my plans and my expectations.

So have some of my friends and role models who are quite good, yet their emphasis is still on having fun and on the process. Like Kellie "Midget" Smirnoff who is good enough to make USAT's All American team. (Go Kellie!) She can be that good and still understand that it's about the journey and the process. (Read her speech at a recent Ultraman and you'll see what I mean.)

Or take a friend of mine who recently did Oceanside 70.3 and came in last (Yes, really last. The run volunteers ran in with him as he passed their stations since they were done. Which, when you think about it, is actually kind of awesome. Now I want to be escorted in by volunteers too). But, the point is, he had a blast and now he's done a HIM.

All of this has made me realize I really need to re-think my approach to this sport. I've gotten way too swept up in the numbers and wanting to get on the podium and blah, blah, blah.

That's not what this is about. I'm not a professional athlete whose livelihood depends on my placements and there is no external time-table I need to be on in terms of progression. Maybe I won't be posting the kinds of times I wanted to this season, but the important thing is to have fun.

And, I realized today, as I was doing Showdown at Sundown and having absolutely everything go wrong, thus dashing any hopes I had for a podium finish, that I was still having a blast. I loved the bike course (once I got over my chain issues) -- it was all twisty and rolling just the way I like them, the scenery was gorgeous, I wasn't in horrible pain during the run even though I didn't hold myself to a 10 min per mile pace as I'd planned, and the event was well-executed. What more could I ask for, really?
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