Another year of racing is in the books and as I reflect back I am thankful that I have the opportunity to do what I do. 2013 was a very humbling year to say the least. Coming off about 3 consecutive years of setting personal records, winning races, and consistently having podium finishes in my age group I had some setbacks this year and sub par performances. This year was my last year in my current age group (30-34) which is the age group I have been in ever since I started this crazy ride of running and racing triathlons. I am looking forward to entering my new age group (35-39) next year and excited about the challenge this super competitive age group offers.
Two great things happened in 2013. The first was that I finished my first marathon and the second was I finally raced at USA Triathlon National Championships (Olympic distance).
I take a lot of pride in knowing that I completed a marathon even though the race didn’t go as planned. My 4 hour and 19 minute time over 26.2 miles was well above my intended target. It was the most challenging physical event I have ever subjected myself to. I learned a lot in those 4 months of training leading up to the marathon. The last 6.2 miles were frontier miles I have never experienced before. It was 6.2 miles that seemed like 62 miles but the experience and knowledge I gained in those miles will definitely help me in the future. I look forward to running another marathon over the next few years. Find my race report here.
USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship was another race I have been dreaming about doing for a long time and I finally got to do it in 2013. See my race report here. I didn’t have a great race but it wasn’t terrible either. My mindset going into this big race was to just enjoy the event, enjoy the atmosphere, and enjoy the overall experience. I was able to do all of that at Nationals. This was a very humbling race too as the best amateur triathletes in the country were present and were bad fast. One of the big takeaways from this event was that I discovered, seeing it firsthand, how fast I really need to be. The good thing is I can get there and now I have the motivation to achieve it.
In between those two big races I did some 5k’s and some triathlons (both sprint and Olympic distances). No spectacular finishes except my last triathlon in October where I finished 10th overall. One of my goals was to run a 5k under 19 minutes but I could never get there in 2013. I struggled to find speed all year. I really thought that after the marathon was over in late April I could take a week off then just get right into gaining my short distance speed back. Boy, was I wrong! I was trying to accomplish too many goals that were not necessarily in line with each other. This experience has helped me refocus my game plan and goals going into 2014 and beyond. Another big change in 2013 was the time I spent with my kids and their athletic activities. I was very involved in helping coach them in the spring and summer. A lot of practices and ballgames nearly 5 nights a week. Training took a backseat during this time. I still trained but it was in the mornings….when I was able to get up =). This is the first year, more so than any prior years, that I had to really balance family life with training because there was a lot of demand for my time. My family is way more important than any race or event so the decision was actually pretty easy, but I did miss a lot of key workouts. In years past I got so caught up in my training and racing that I took a lot of things for granted inadvertently lost sight of the things that mean so much to me. The best experience I gained in 2013 that I can take into the coming years is that I have to train differently so that I don’t lose focus on what’s most important, my kids and family.
A lot of “proud dad” moments happened with both of my kids in 2013. The two that standout and are relative to this blog are that they both completed their first triathlon. They also joined in the fun at Nationals by running in the kids fun run race. Not only did they step out of their comfort zone and try something new they also performed really well.
After going through somewhat of a learning experience, or transition year, in 2013 I feel better equipped going into 2014 with goals that are more in line with my main objective.
My main objective for 2014 is to qualify for Team USA at Nationals in August 2014. To give myself the best chance at this I will need to focus on getting faster on the bike, improving my swim time a little, and getting my sprint running speed back. Sounds easy, right? Well, in fact it is. To be a faster swimmer, biker, and runner all you have to do is swim, bike, and run faster. To achieve this success I am using the off season to rest, build strength, and maintain run and swim base. Main focus at the turn of the new year will be building a strong bike base. Then my races leading up to August will be ones that are similar to the distance of Nationals so a lot of 5k’s, 10k’s, and sprint triathlons. There will be no half marathon or marathon in 2014. All of this should put me in the best position to have the most success while maintaining the right balance between training and family.
Looking beyond 2014 and into 2015 I have ideas on what I want to do. If I qualify for Team USA I will participate at Age Group World Championships and that will be my focus. However, my plan B if I don’t get on the team will be to run a successful marathon and do either a half ironman or full ironman in 2015. That’s further down the road and will have to see how it all works out.
A lot of lows with a few highs sums up my 2013 racing season. It happens and it’s part of the fabric that makes us who we are and makes us better. I hope I can take the hard lessons learned and use them as motivation and reminders in 2014.
Train. Race. Repeat