Monday, December 28, 2015

2016 race race year in review

2015 is coming to an end which you’re either happy about or would like this year to continue.  One of the things we should all do is take an inventory of the year and see what we should keep, let go, or improve upon.  In terms of me taking stock of myself and what I personally need to work on, I will leave that to my own demons and work through myself and the wife.  To be upfront, there really isn’t anything life changing so nothing to worry about there.  Just some tweaks here or there to be a better person, husband, father, boss, etc.  However, the one thing I do every year is analyze how my race season went and see what I learned and what needs to be changed.  So here is the good, the bad, and the ugly

When looking at my race season as a whole, I think the concept that comes to mind first is it was the year of “what-ifs” and “almosts”.  I had a lot of strong races where I was in contention for podiums, good times, and things that would make me very happy.  But as I write this today, I have to look back and say there were too many things that went wrong in a race that caused me to have issues.

In my first race of the season, I was in 2nd in my AG and about 11th overall heading into the run at the Great Six Flags Tri.  Knowing I am a strong runner, I was looking to pick off some people and get on that podium.  Yet, at the first mile on the run, I cramped up, wasted about 4-5 minutes trying to figure out how my left hamstring would ever move again, and ultimately wound up 4th in AG and about 14th overall.  This 4-5 minute stoppage time cost me a lot.  Fast forward to my last race of the season (Challenge Poconos), and I was about 6/7th AG coming off the run and looking and feeling really good.  Yet about 4 minutes into the run, same issue and cramping stopped me for about 3-4 minutes now.  This ultimately led to me placing 4th AG by 62 seconds, in a race I couldn’t have been 2nd AG and higher up in the standings. 

I clearly need to work on nutrition and electrolyte balance, which I have started, but I have to view those 2 races as what if’s.  What if I didn’t cramp up and I put together 3 phases of a strong race.  Would I be looking at my season differently?

Then came Alcatraz.  The bucket list race.  One that I was excited for, up until the point the race started.  I really wanted to do well here.  I didn’t care about place or time or anything except enjoying the race, being part of history, and experiencing something not a lot of people do.  But this race was just not fun for me.  The swim stunk, and the bike was the most scared I have ever been on 2 wheels.  Instead of getting a chance to tell people about Escape from Alcatraz triathlon and how great of an experience it is, I know have to say I will never do it again and something that I was looking forward to being over and not I want to do again.

Throw in a tri in July where it was the hottest day of the summer and humid so they had to cut the course short and my tri season was something of an eventful and uneventful season all within the same year.  This was another race that coming off the bike I could have made some places up, but just ran out of real estate due to the shortened run.  Having known this on the bike, I could have raced differently and put myself in a better position.  File that into both, what-if and almost.

Lastly, let’s take the NYC Marathon.  I wasn’t supposed to do this race in the first place, but clearly drinking and registering for races don’t go well together.  The fact is I just didn’t put the necessary hours and miles in to hit my goal here.  Wanting to run sub-3:00 is a difficult task.  My training times were there, but the number of miles just weren’t.  Instead of hitting the wall and just slowing down and struggling to finish, my body just told me to pack it in and be done.  This was neither a what-if or an almost.  It was a what could have been if I did what was needed.

As you can see, with the exception of a few little things here or there, my race season would have been pretty good.  But racing is being able to put everything together and fight and deal with adversity as it comes.  I wasn’t able to do any of that this year. 

As I look forward to 2016, my race schedule is pretty much planned.  Now is the time to take what I learned from 2015 and use it to work in 2016.  Make sure that my nutrition/electrolyte balance is good so coming off the bike, I can be strong and not cramped.  I can make sure my bike fit is proper so I can take advantage of aerodynamics, and not have muscle imbalance.  I can learn how to swim train properly so when I get in the water, I can at least be a mid-pack swimmer and not back of pack swimmer where I need to work that much harder on the bike and run.  All of these little things make a difference so that when I write this in one year from now I can look back and say, I learned from my mistakes and am not doing the same things over and over again and complaining that nothing is changing. 

I’m confident 2016 will be a strong year.  I’m part of a great triathlon team (future post), I’m a lot smarter than I was a year ago, and I’ve got the ability to do what needs to be done. 

Keep training, and race on.

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