Thursday, January 1, 2015

End of 2014

Well, I'm still not great at updating the blog.  Oh, well.  2014 has come to a close and we are finally at 2015, and it looks nothing like Back to the Future II told us it would.  Oh, well.  I'd have to say that in general I enjoyed 2014.  It started a little rough when I couldn't train at all for the first couple of months, and then had to go try and do a 70.3 in Texas with hardly any training.  Somehow someone knew that under those circumstances it would be the perfect time for me to flat in a race for the first time in 11 years so I couldn't even attempt to run, which would've been a disaster. 

Then I got to spend a month or so training in Tulsa with my friend Jessica Jones and our other friend Logan Franks.  These guys are pros, so it was mostly wheel sucking but it really was a nice place to ride, and a gorgeous pool to swim in.  Although admittedly it was nice to not be the one in serious training and just go along with whatever.  And when we went to the pool, if Jessica had to swim 4000 meters I could be perfectly happy hopping in another lane and only swimming 2000. 

That was kind of my main approach to this season.  I'd done so many Ironman races over the prior ten seasons and the last bunch had not gone well in the slightest.  It really had nothing to do with my athletic ability and everything to do with the fact that I'd completely lost my motivation to train for those races.  I kept kind of falling behind and trying to catch up but mostly knowing that it was far too late.  So if you check out any of my race results from the last couple of seasons, none of them were really that surprising to me.  I had the result I'd trained for.  The last time I remotely trained well for an Ironman race was Ironman Texas in 2012, and hey, 6th in my age group!  So, you do the work, the race goes well.  You don't?  Well, I never finished in the dark before quite recently. 

Rather than continue this pattern, I decided to take 2014 off.  There were a few times where I considered signing up for an Ironman, getting in on something late, but I resisted those urges and in the end, I was so, so glad.  It's not that I don't enjoy those races or training for them, but you simply can't make yourself do that year after year after year when you're not enjoying it.  2014 was spent without a training plan.  I didn't log a single workout.  I really didn't even PLAN a single workout.  Over the summer I swam a lot with my open water swim friends, I hardly biked at all and I ran just enough to keep from getting winded in a 5K.  And I really enjoyed most of the workouts I did. 

I did do a few races, mostly short and incredibly low key ones.  I didn't put any pressure on myself, didn't look at the slow results and compare myself to back when I could run marathons faster than my 5K race pace (that was seriously true) but rather just enjoyed going out and doing some fun little races and not worrying about results or training.  The intent was not to have this be the norm, but more to give myself the mental and physical break so that I could be ready to get back into serious training for next year.  Because I'd been talked into racing Ironman South Africa in March, and I am not going to South Africa without being prepared to race.

After my last little race of the season in September, my new plan was to go to Hawaii to hang out with my friends and watch the race, swim and run and surf as much as I felt like, come home and take one more week off and then get into serious training.  I built myself a training plan that I'd follow for 22 weeks beginning at the end of October, and I was going to stick to it and be "serious athlete" again.

So far, it's going remarkably well.  I think that break was just what I needed.  I'm coming up on the end of week #10 and I haven't missed a workout.  I'm feeling faster and stronger than I've felt in a very long time and I'm actually kind of excited about this race.  Am I super speedy?  Ah, no, definitely not.  But I'm making a lot of progress, and that is the most important thing.  And I've still got 12 weeks of training to make a lot more progress. 

So basically 2014 was like, resting and getting ready for 2015.  So far my plan is working well.  And somehow I think that training hard in the middle of winter is strangely easier than it is in the summer.  I mean, aside from the last week of holidays, nothing is really going on.  I'm not missing out on anything when I'm getting up early to hit the pool or pedaling my bike aimlessly in the basement.  It's cold and the sun sets at 4 in the afternoon, so I might as well do a lot of training. 

I'm looking forward to what will hopefully be a better year.  Last year certainly wasn't bad, and I'd argue it was better than 2013, possibly better than 2012, definitely better than 2011, and infinitely better than 2010, which was the worst year of my life.  But mostly I'd like to have a year that I can look back on and without question say was a great one.  There's only one way to find out...

Monday, November 17, 2014

"It's Not Easy But It's Worth It!"

The title of this post is what some random old guy walking his dogs said to me as I ran by him on the trail.  I don't think I'd ever seen him before, so it was truly random encouragement but his words certainly rang true. 

I've just finished my first three weeks of training and am at the beginning of the greatly anticipated rest week.  I have to say, for the first two weeks or so, it almost felt... easy.  I suppose part of that is that it was relatively easy, since it's base and all Z1 stuff, which is my favorite, and the volume wasn't particularly high.  So I suppose it was bound to feel easy, but it was nice to feel good for the majority of the workouts.  I do admit that sometime in the middle of week three, when my alarm started waking me up early in the morning out of a sound sleep, that some of the novelty had worn off.  But overall, it felt really good to get back out there with a plan and a schedule and an upcoming race to look forward to. 

Weather has also been cooperating mostly.  I've lucked out in that I've done all of my bike rides outside so far.  It should be noted that I'm willing to ride in colder temperatures than most people.  As long as what I bring to drink with me won't freeze solid and the roads are dry, I'm probably going to hit the road.  I've had some chilly rides but really, as long as I'm dressed well, I'm mostly fine. 

It's amazing how quickly this makes me feel more like myself.  It's not that I hadn't been doing anything before, but I was doing things without any plan or purpose, and waiting and doing things later in the day.  I'm the kind of person who really needs to just get up first thing in the morning and get up and get the training done and then move on with the rest of my day.  It just makes me feel better in general.  And for the first time in a long time I'm really excited about the upcoming season.  I feel like I got the rest I needed and the mental break from constantly having an Ironman to do, and now I'm ready to get back at it and do what needs to be done with fresh legs and without feeling mentally worn down.  Granted, we still have 19 weeks to go and a lot can happen in that time, but so far, so good!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

One Week (almost) Down, 21 to Go

My little training vacation came to an end this past Monday when I decided to actually start training, with an actual plan, for my next Ironman.  Today is Ironman Florida which means it has now been a year since I last did one of those crazy races, and it'll be another five months before I do my next one.  And right now I'm totally fine with that. 

So on Monday I did something I haven't done in about seven months and I set my alarm and headed for the pool.  I've swum plenty, including some pool time down in Oklahoma and lots of lake swims over the summer, but I hadn't set foot at my home pool since before I left to drive down south in the spring for my racing/training adventure.  The people at the gym checking me in are totally different, there was nobody in the pool I recognized, and I forgot what it was like to smell like chlorine.  It was a good start, though.  Then there was some lifting, which I hadn't done in, I don't know, two years maybe? 

The beginning of this week reminded me why so many people must start an exercise program and almost immediately stop.  I was really, really sore.  Wednesday especially, for whatever reason, was the worst.  If I hadn't experienced that before and known it would go away fairly quickly, I might've been tempted to give up, too.  But even just Thursday I felt a lot better, and Friday nothing really at all.  So that was a good start. 

The weather for the most part cooperated so I was able to ride outside.  It hasn't been warm, but it's been dry.  Well, until today.  Today I knew the rain was coming for my long ride but I thought I might be able to squeeze it in between the first hint of daylight and the storm moving in without getting soaked.  That might've been true if my scheduled ride was about 45 minutes shorter, but, sadly, it wasn't.  And the mist that started things off turned into full on rain with about twenty minutes to go.  Oh, well.  I suppose it could've been worse, but as it was I got in probably three hours of dry biking. 

The last two years I became sort of a trainer wimp.  Maybe I shouldn't say wimp, because honestly, I've always found riding outdoors in less-than-ideal conditions to be the lesser of two evils when compared to pedaling aimlessly in the basement.  But I really did used to ride in just about anything as long as the roads weren't icy and it was above about 25 degrees.  Today was in the low 40s, very overcast, but I was reminded that really, if you are dressed for the weather, it's not bad at all.  Also funny was that I was all layered up and wearing gloves and shoe covers and fleece lined things and back in September I did a race in just my usual tri kit and it was the exact same temperature. 

The first week will officially be over after I finish up my long run tomorrow morning, in what is supposed to be 40-45mph wind so that will be... interesting.  But the good news is, so far things are going well and I'm enjoying it, even with less than optimal weather.  It's nice to have a big goal to get me through the winter.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 1: 22 Weeks to Race Day

Remember me?  I did just check and was impressed with myself when I saw that I had actually posted in June, so four months of silence isn't as bad as I'd thought.  My intent is to actually blog more often heading into the 2015 season, but since we all know how that can sometimes go I won't make any promises beyond the fact that I'll try. 

Today marked my first day back in "official" training for the 2015 season.  My goal race to start off will be Ironman South Africa, which is quite a trek for someone who has actually never left the country before for a race.  In fact, I've only left the country one other time, period, and that was fifteen years ago.  So this should be quite an adventure.  I wrote up my training plan last week and if I survive the grueling workouts I've set for myself, I should be in a very good spot for race day.

This past season I took an intentional break from Ironman, and I think I really needed it.  I did my first race in 2004 and since then the only year other than 2014 in which I didn't do at least 1 Ironman race was 2011, and that was only because I found out I had a stress fracture two weeks before I was due to race in Coeur D'Alene.  Mentally and physically, I can't tell you how nice it was not to be staring at twenty-five+ hour training weeks constantly, 4-7 hours of training on most days, and just endless miles.  Yes, it is nice to push our bodies and test our limits and see what we can do, but I do believe there is only so much of that you can do consistently before it stops feeling worthwhile to you.  It eventually requires at least a temporary break, if not a permanent one.  I feel much less daunted by the training I'm staring at for the next 22 weeks given that I'm coming off a pretty care-free year in terms of training.  I biked when I felt like it, or mostly just when friends wanted to ride.  I tried to run at least somewhat consistently, and was in a position where even a 45-minute run was a worthwhile venture, which was a nice change of pace.  And I swam quite a bit given that it was summer and I love open water swimming.  It was a nice and needed break. 

But today I was back at it.  I actually set my alarm and drove to my pool, where they haven't seen me since either late March or early April.  Just remember that at that point I went to Texas and Tulsa and got plenty of swimming in down there before coming back and hitting the lakes or ocean, so I haven't been quite as much of a slacker as that timeframe implies.  I don't think I recognized anybody there but was at least glad that it wasn't crowded.  I then hit the weight room for the first time in a long, long time.  I don't even remember the last time I lifted.  We had reached a point where since I am not generally a strength limited athlete, we bypassed strength training in favor of other things, but given my lengthy absence from serious training, it seems like it can only be a good idea. 

I even wen to Bikram yoga today.  I don't think I've done that in five years but I decided I wanted to toss something else in there and work on some core and other strength stuff.  That was more intense than I remembered.  And tougher.  And I forget that in spite of the fact that I have zero issues when swimming, biking and running, my knees are not so good.  But I think it will be a good addition, at least for the first 8-10 weeks before the rest of the training really kicks into high gear, at which point I fear hanging out trying to do yoga in a 105-degree room might have vastly more of a chance of resulting in me passing out in front of a room full of strangers. 

But anyway, day 1 is done.  It went pretty well.  Now I just have to string together a few months of this and I'll be all set!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Signed up for Ironman South Africa 2015

I believe I mentioned in my last post that I am taking 2014 off from Ironman training.  I've been very happy with that decision.  My "big" race for the year will be Timberman, and the thought of training for "just" a half is so, so much less daunting than a full.  3 hour bike rides?  45 minute swims?  No problem.  And also the feeling that every little run will help, and I don't have to somehow make it through 26 miles. 

Last weekend I actually did a little race.  Half the reason I did it at all was because it happened to fall on my birthday, and I'd never done a race on my birthday.  Since usually I do pretty much nothing outside of normal training on my birthday, it seemed like a fun alternative.  It was a very small Olympic distance race in a part of New Hampshire I'd never been in before.  Or at least I don't think I had.  The weather was gorgeous and it was a nice, very small and low key event.  There was also a sprint, and a duathlon, and I think an aquabike option for both distances.  The longer race was also the smaller one, so with only 40-something of us, it was actually a mass start swim which was kind of fun.  The lake was the perfect temperature, and nice and clean and a course that was easy to follow.  I managed to be 5th out of the water.  As usual, I was way too slow for the fast people (I think the top 4 all came out at least 3 minutes before I did) and too fast for the average people.  I think I'm forever doomed to swim in no-man's land. 

The bike was actually 30 miles which is a little long, and since I didn't do my homework I didn't realize how long it was going to be until I showed up and looked at the map.  Not that that's a big deal, but I probably should've brought along another energy gel.  I raced without any data whatsoever.  No watch, no Garmin, no bike computer.  It was kind of nice.  The ride was fun and went by fairly quickly.  I probably could've pushed harder, but since I am officially a terrible runner, I figured I was better off not completely destroying any chance to at least kind of, sort of run. 

Off the bike and onto the run course, I think it was good not to know how slow I was going.  I've had once again some pretty interrupted training over the spring with the back issue and minor surgery over the winter, so mostly I just wanted to "run" and get through it.  Wow, I was slow.  And that course was very lonely.  But of course I got through it, and the good news is that if you lack the capacity to run anything resembling "fast" then you don't get blisters and you're not sore at all afterward.  So I've bounced back nicely.  That race also proved that if you find a small enough race you can always manage to place.  I came in third.  Out of all of ten women.  And I won a tri top, size small.  I'm not trying to put myself down, but I'm definitely not a small.  Oh, well, it was a fun morning.  And that's how I spent my birthday. 

July looks to be empty of races but will consist of some training and the annual trip up to Lake Placid to train, coach, and generally have a fun time hanging out with a lot of my friends.  And today I officially signed up to race in South Africa in 2015.  The race is at the end of March, which will make the winter.... interesting.  But I think this will be good for me.  I've never raced internationally.  Actually, I've only ever left the country once, on a family trip to Ireland way back in 1999.  I've got some friends who brought up the idea of making a big trip out of it, and you know what?  Why not?  How often do you get to go to South Africa?  I'm guessing just the once, so I can't wait to make the most of that.  Also, race entry fees there are about $200 cheaper than your average Ironman.  So it also has that going for it. 

Other than that, weather has been good, lots of lake swimming and enjoying sun.  Looking forward to a good summer of not Ironman training, before I have to spend the whole winter very much Ironnan training.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tulsa Training Recap

This is more than a little belated since I've been home for almost a month now, but since I've barely updated at all in the past year I'd say it isn't such a bad offense. 

I spent about a month between April and May training in Tulsa with my friend and pro triathlete Jessica Jones.  One of the things I love about what I do is the opportunity to meet so many great people and how so many times it has led to such good friendships, often beginning from mere days-long training camps.  I met Jessica at a RaceQuest Travel camp last Memorial Day up in Lake Tahoe and we got to hang out a little in Kona, and when she offered to have me come down to Tulsa to train with her, and winter was never ending and I had nothing better to do aside from training by myself, how could I say no? 

I'll say the training there was pretty good.  I can't really complain much.  Drivers were courteous to bikers, I got to swim in a long course pool that is likely the most beautiful facility I've used, and biking and running along the river trails was also excellent.  It didn't hurt to also be a 2-minute walk from a Chipotle.  Well, maybe that's a bad thing.  I can't decide. 

The only really unfortunate thing was that for the first 3 weeks I was there I was unable to run because my back was seized up.  I skipped some swimming too in the initial week or so, but was fortunate that for whatever reason, biking didn't bother it.  Except getting on and off, but as long as I was riding, things were fine.  Then finally one day, out of nowhere, it just didn't hurt anymore.  I suppose I shouldn't say "out of nowhere" because I did get chiropractic treatment, but just as weirdly and mysteriously as the pain had shown up, it was gone. 

After the first week we were joined by another pro triathlete friend, Logan Franks.  Jessica knows Logan from Team RWB, and I actually knew Logan from when he was with us at QT2.  So funny how everyone knows everyone, just through slightly different channels.  Logan also brought his dog, Ubu, who is a really awesome dog who almost makes me want to get one of my own.  He also loved licking sweat off your legs after a workout.  Logan wasn't training for the race either, so we were both mostly just tagging along for workouts. 

I have to say, for once it was nice not being the one who had to train.  I trained plenty, but there were certainly times when we went to the pool and Jessica had to swim 4000 meters when I would just wait a bit before getting in and/or get out early.  I can't keep up with her in the water anyway, so I promise this didn't make me a bad training partner.  I mean, it didn't make me a great one either, but at least I usually drove us to the pool where we got to listen to what Jessica referred to as the "Russian Roulette" that is my iPod.  You never quite knew what was going to pop up. 

I finally got out to do some running as well, and that was nice.  Well, mostly.  Obviously starting up to run again after some time off is always difficult, but it was nice that it at least didn't hurt.  I was still stuck running alone though, because while I can hang on the wheels on a bike with some pro triathletes, I certainly can't run with them. 

It's a lot of fun sharing some time with people who do the same things you do.  Always on the same page with workouts (well, that was easy since we just followed whatever Jessica was doing!) and nobody made fun of anyone for going to bed too early.  There was surprisingly little down time though, what with all of the training and Jessica's kids.  But we did get to spend a nice afternoon kayaking at a local lake, so it wasn't all training all the time. 

Eventually our training came to an end and it was time to head back to Texas for the race.  Jessica flew down and her mom picked her up since she lives down in Houston, and Logan and I drove down to meet up at the house we were staying at with Jessica's coach, Kevin Purcell.  The house worked out great, not too far away from the venue.  I was once again thrilled that I had not signed up, although I was definitely jealous that they were experiencing record cold temperatures and race day was about 20 degrees colder than last year.  The swim was even 100% wetsuit legal.  Oh, well, it was still better to be on the sidelines that day. 

I got to see a lot of other friends who had come down to race and watch, so that was a lot of fun.  Jessica had a very solid day in what was only her third Ironman, coming in seventh place, so everyone was happy.  And after the race, we got to celebrate with her birthday cake which her mom had made since her birthday was the day before.  Overall it was a really fun trip. 

Sadly, the next day, it was time to drive home.  Driving home is never as fun as driving down.  I opted to forgo the 4am start on day 1 and any attempts to push to get home in only 2 days and instead got up and ran before packing up and hitting the road a little before 10am.  My initial plan was to go just east of Birmingham and stop basically in the same place as I'd stopped by first day on the drive down, but once I got to that point, it wasn't that late and I wasn't sick of driving yet so I decided to push a little further.  Sadly, once you get past that point, there isn't much there.  So when I finally felt like I wanted to stop, there was basically no civilization for a while and I wound up crossing time zones and stopping just past Chattanooga.  But, the good news there was that I was that much closer to home and had that much less road to cover. 

It also meant that I got to stop off the following night in New Jersey to visit my cousin Matt and his wife Carolyn and their daughter, Maddie who just turned 1.  I see them a lot when they come up north to visit my aunt and uncle, but I've never seen where they live and since they were right off the highway on my way and it was too far for me to go all the way home, it made for the perfect final rest stop, and only a little over 4 hours to go the following day. 

So, finally, after being gone for almost 2 months, I made it home.  Of course once again I feel like I never want to drive all over the country again, but I suppose as long as opportunities keep coming up and I've got nothing better to do, I'll take them.  That said, I wouldn't mind if I had more reasons to stay put! 

Since then it's just been adjusting to being home again.  I made an early attempt at open water swimming with my crazy friends who seem to think that as long as the ice has melted, the water is ok to swim in.  That first attempt was... a little too cold for me, as it involved being able to see our breath and slightly numb lips.  I know wetsuits are helpful, but they're not that helpful.  Fortunately a week and a half later the water was perfect, so that has been fun.  I biked with some friends I haven't biked with in years, caught up with some people, attended some family parties, and the weather has at least sometimes been decent.  It's definitely better than it was when I left. 

I think that's about as caught up as I'm going to get.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Definition of Success

I have returned home from one of my stints of driving all over the country and living out of my car (and other people's homes).  Hopefully I'll catch up a bit and write a blog to recap my training travels and experiences, but this is something I've been thinking of writing about for a while and I wanted to get it out.  It has to do with success.  In this case I'll speak more specifically in regards to success in sport, but I do think it applies to just about everything. 

Success is never a surprise.  Not really.  I mean, sure, sometimes maybe you didn't expect to do as well as you did, or maybe you failed a few times and it was a little surprising when you finally accomplish what you set out to do, but it is always the result of a lot of hard work and perseverance.  The level of success you achieve may be mildly surprising, but seeing a good result from that hard work shouldn't completely shock you. 

I have seen this in the athletes I coach and most notably in myself as an athlete.  First I need to say that success should not be measured any one way for every single person.  Success means something different for each person.  I've coached athletes doing the exact same race where one went 14:30 and another went 9:30 and got a Kona slot and both were extremely successful races.  It should be based on reaching your potential under the circumstances you have to work with.  This also means that even the same athlete might need to have a different definition of success based on their life situation at the time.  Your best race when you have 20 hours a week to train is going to be different from your best race you can manage when you only had 10 hours a week to train because work got really busy, or your wife just had a baby, or any other number of reasons that life gets in the way.  The result after only training 10 hours a week might not be as good, but if you maximized the time you had it should still be considered a success. 

People I know who are successful in racing don't make many excuses.  They just get the training done.  That's not to say that they are not hindered by obstacles like the occasional cold, an unexpected business trip, sick kids, or again, any number of legitimate reasons that training sometimes gets sidetracked.  But they do take those things in stride, miss the workouts they simply can't get in, move on and let those go without worrying about how it will impact everything else.  But they also do their best to get in what they can without disrupting the rest of their lives.  Yes, I said it's ok to miss workouts.  The successful people know the difference between missing a workout because you legitimately can't get it in (or are legitimately exhausted) and skipping a workout because it is less than 100% convenient or they decide that a minor obstacle gives them a legitimate reason to skip it.  (Please note: I've been guilty of that second one myself.  I think we all are at times.) 

This is not to say by any means that every single person who decides to do a triathlon should never make any excuses, and it certainly doesn't mean that they should prioritize their training over things that really matter in their real life.  It simply means that you should manage your expectations and don't be shocked when you maybe don't do as well as you thought you would.  Or when you maybe don't do as well as that guy you know who you used to be just as fast as, but maybe he has a really flexible work schedule and his kids are in college and he has a lot more free time. 

I don't know a whole lot of people who nail all of their training and then have bad results to show for it.  Of course there are always going to be cases of bad luck like flat tires, broken chains, unfortunately timed illnesses or days where your stomach just isn't cooperating.  "Nailing your training" though doesn't just mean physically getting it done, but it means being mentally present as well.  And taking care of the little things like your health, nutrition and rest.  If you're not racing up to your potential (and again, by "potential" here I mean based on your own life circumstances, so your "potential" as a working mom with an hour a day during the week is different from your potential if you are someone like me who is single with no parental responsibilities) then there is usually a concrete reason for that.  And if you are successful then usually you can look back and see that you just went out and got it done. 

I've been thinking a lot about this because when it comes to myself, I've somehow morphed from a "no excuses" type athlete to.... well, not quite like that.  Training wasn't optional, it was just what I did that day.  Alarm went off, and I was up and out of bed before I even had a chance to think about it.  Clothes were laid out for whatever workout, and there wasn't any stopping to think, "Should I go train or should I go back to bed?"  Again, it just wasn't a question. 

I discourage you from looking at some of my more recent race results, because I know what they say.  But if you do, and then you go back and compare them to some of my better years when winning my age group at many races or coming in top 10 in my age group in Kona happened more than once, you might wonder what the heck happened.  Now, there were some legitimate setbacks in there.  Injuries (hoping for no more stress fractures, ever), minor surgery, or my father's accident and death.  But I allowed the setbacks to destroy the momentum, and I haven't fully gotten going again.  I can assure you that at this point it is entirely mental as I'm probably physically healthier than I've been in a long time, without any sort of lingering aches or pains that I was working my way through. 

I've done some crazy things in the past to get workouts in.  I wouldn't say that every person should do such crazy things, but I will say that when I look back at those crazy workouts and my dedication, it is absolutely no wonder I raced as well as I did.  Get up at 4am to get in a 3 hour run before work?  Sure.  Swim 4000 yards at 5am, drive up to go skiing, and follow up said skiing with a trainer ride and an outdoor run?  Sure.  Getting up between 3:30 and 4am for an entire week of a vacation at Disney World to get 27 hours of training in while not interfering with any of the family fun?  Oh, and also riding my bike on a 2.7 mile loop over and over again, mostly in the dark, for 6 hours, during that same vacation.  Sure, I never even thought that it wasn't an option. 

I won't guarantee that every single person who completely dedicates themselves like that will be a Kona qualifier, or whatever else your goal might be.  But you can surely improve dramatically if you dedicate yourself enough.  But then I'll also say that you should know yourself well enough to know just how much you want to dedicate yourself.  If your life is such that you can prioritize the training, then great, go for it.  But if it isn't, then that's ok, too.  But try not to be envious of the super fast people, because they are most likely making a lot of sacrifices to be so fast, and those sacrifices are probably not worth the result for you.  And again, that's ok.  Some people's jobs are more demanding, and some people have more family obligations or any other number of real life things that get in the way.  Keep your life situation in perspective when it comes to the goals you set out for yourself and understand that your definition of success can vary based on it.  Rather than being upset about the fact that you can't beat that guy in your age group because he has way more time to train just appreciate the time that you do have and the reasons that you can't train as much, whether those be your great family or a job you enjoy that maybe just takes up a little more time than you'd like. 

But, sometimes the results just speak more to your level of dedication, and sometimes you don't have a great reason.  Or maybe this only applies to me.  My results are no accident.  Sure, I will tell you that I was surprised when I won Lake Placid since I knocked an hour off my (also Kona qualifying) time from the year before, because I was.  I was surprised maybe at the actual level of success, but not at the fact that I nailed the race and felt great the whole way through.  I had been completely dedicated to my training.  I don't recall specifically but I am pretty sure I didn't miss a workout for at least 6 months leading up to it.  I got up early, went to bed early, ate right and raced light.  On some level I still see it as a fluke, (and in some ways it was because of course it just depends on who else shows up) but when I really look at my approach in the months leading up, I was incredibly dedicated.  The same can be said of my race there in 2009.  I did have a somewhat disappointing run that year, but after a terrible year prior, I had to overcome a lot more coming back, and since I once again nailed the training, I had what was probably the best possible result under the circumstances. 

I'm skipping Ironman races this year.  I think I needed to not have a marathon weighing over my head for a year, and so far I'm very happy with that decision.  After 17 of them, I could use a year off.  And I'm hoping to regain that momentum to once again become the successful athlete I was before.  It really does become second nature eventually, and I do enjoy the training once getting over that initial hump where it is not fun and you can only think about how slow you are.  I'm also hoping to start blogging more again as an outlet for my writing and because when life is going well and training is going well, I write more.  So, here's to a fun summer of training and local races and getting the positive momentum going again.  I'm looking forward to doing all races within driving distance this year and hopefully having fun and maybe even doing well.