2016 Accomplishments

Image via lumpi / Pixabay

There has been a lot of talk about 2016 being an absolutely terrible year.  And to be honest, a lot of not so great things have happened.  And it never helps when the year is capped off by the deaths of beloved celebrities.  But there have also been many awesome things that happened this year.  So I thought I would go through my list of accomplishments.

I completed my second year on the Coeur Sports Ambassador Team and was welcomed back for a third year.  I absolutely love being on this team.  Obviously I love the products that Coeur makes (if I could live in the joggers, I probably would) and I would be racing in their gear regardless of my affiliation with the team, but I truly love the beliefs behind this company.  Their kits are made in the US.  They support athletes of all shapes and sizes and are working to increase their size range.  They aren’t just about the elite triathlete or the age grouper who ends up on the podium time and time again.  And the team is made up of incredible women.  At first, I was intimidated because I’m not a fast racer, but it quickly became clear that it didn’t matter.  It’s about what you bring to the team.  Sure, it’s great to see Coeur up on the podium, but it’s even better to see ladies in Coeur cheering each other on and being a positive force.  Being part of this team has made me a better athlete and a better person.

Race bib number 1810Of course, the big accomplishment of the year – Augusta 70.3!  I completed my first half ironman and it was everything that I had hoped and more.  I spent the summer training like it was my job (well, not really, since I had an actual job to do so I could pay for my racing habit) and the work paid off.  I beat every single one of my time goals, and know that in better conditions, I could race even faster.  It certainly wasn’t a perfect day but I have no regrets about how I raced and I’m proud of what I accomplished.  More importantly, I had family and friends come down to cheer me on, and that made those last miles even more incredible.

I also raced a few great half marathons and pushed through some less great triathlons.  Now that I think about it, my triathlons this year were all in not-so-great weather.  Let’s hope for a change in 2017.

My niece was born this year.  So really, that trumps everything.  And I got to spend a lot of quality time with my family.  I think I saw more of them this year than in many previous years, something rare since I moved 700 miles away.  Not sure if I can make that work again in 2017, but it’s always fun to try.

 

Reframing

During a conversation with some of my Coeur teammates, we were talking about back of the pack racing and I went back to look at some race results to figure out if I had ever actually been the last finisher in a race. (The fact that I didn’t know shows you just how much I care about my placement.)  But in doing so, I also went back to read my recap of my worst race this year, the General Smallwood International. This race was technically the slowest paced, though in my mind, it was the worst because of the weather.  It was cold and rainy and just miserable.

But I also remember being pretty miserable about being so far behind in the pack.  The run was a looped course and on the second loop, I didn’t see anyone. Just me, running through the woods all alone.  At least by then the rain had mostly stopped and it was just insanely wet.  I remember wanting to quit, but being much too stubborn to quit.  After all, it wasn’t like I was hurt or sick.  I just wasn’t having fun.  That’s not a reason to quit.

When I went back to look at my race report though, I was blunt about how disappointed I was in myself for how I had performed in the race.  Before I read that, I just felt proud that I gutted it out and still finished.  And I’m still proud that I finished.  I haven’t forgotten the misery, but with time, I’ve been able to reframe that bad race.  The conditions were terrible.  I stuck it out anyway and I finished.  My splits weren’t that bad given the weather.

So while it’s definitely still my worst race, I see it differently than I did in the days following the race.  And I guess the lesson is that time does heal and reframing your situation can always help.  Maybe you had a bad race.  But did you stick it out and refuse to give up?  That’s what counts.  (Of course, if you’re injured, please stop – doing the smart thing and knowing when you’re risking worse injury takes a lot of guts and it’s worth it in the end.)

Another Amazing Year with Team Coeur!

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Last week, Coeur Sports announced their team for 2017, and I am so excited to be on the team for the third year.  Coeur’s “motto” is “Heart and Courage,” and I have learned so much about heart and courage from my fellow team members.

Coeur Sports is an incredibly inclusive brand.  Their triathlon kits run what I would call true to size, and I was excited when they increased their sizing to 2XL.  No, that still isn’t all encompassing, but they’re a small business, and they have to move a bit slower than people would like, but they’re doing their best.

They also show this by embracing ambassadors of all shapes and sizes.  I’ve seen some chatter online recently after both Coeur and Smashfest announced their teams.  And both have women of all sizes.  Coeur was openly accused of only having skinny, model-sized ambassadors, only the fast people who land on the podium every race.  And do we have super fast athletes on their team who have abs that I covet?  Absolutely.  We also have mid-pack athletes, back-of-the-pack athletes, and team members wearing XS to 2XL.  No one is ever going to call me skinny or super fast, and while I have landed on the podium, it’s definitely a rarity.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty awesome the way I am, but I’m not going to pretend I’m something I’m not.

The thing about this list of women?  They (well, we) do our best to motivate and encourage everyone.  We want everyone to get involved in running or cycling or triathlon, and we want everyone to do it to the best of their ability.  If that means you’re on the podium, you’re awesome.  If that means you’re the last finisher, you’re awesome.  If that means you never race, you just enjoy running or biking or swimming, you’re awesome too.  It’s about getting out there and doing something for yourself, about pushing yourself through tough times, and about pride in what you’ve accomplished, no matter how great or small.

So I’m excited to be back on the team in 2017, and I hope to see you all out on a race course.  I look like garbage when I race, but I try to have a smile for all the other Coeur ladies I see out there.  I promise, it’s not a grimace.  It’s a smile.  Really.

Debating the 2017 Season

ironman-20160925-0045For the first time in a long time, I’ve hit November and don’t have a big race planned.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a few races already scheduled (Donna, Rev 3 Williamsburg Oly) and a few more that I’m hoping to get into (Cherry Blossom, Army Ten Miler), but I don’t have a goal race yet.

I’m up in the air about doing a 70.3 this year, and a big part of that is scheduling.  I want to pick a good race, but I also want to make sure that it fits in with the other things I already have scheduled (family trip, and a friend’s wedding, date TBD).  I can race anytime, but big events and trips definitely come first.

I really enjoyed the training this year.  It was hard, but I liked it.  It wasn’t like marathon training where I just felt like I was running all. the. time.  It did take up a lot of time, but it wasn’t time I dreaded.  I just wished I had more time for the other things I wanted to do.

Now that I know what I’m doing with a 70.3 and how my body will react, I can really set goals.  I can really work on improvement.  Before this year, I think my longest bike ride was about 50 miles, and it was a day long adventure with a lot of breaks.  This year, I topped that many, many times.  Suddenly, a 40 mile ride was a stepback week.  So mentally, I think the next season will be easier.

But having a rebuilding year wouldn’t be so bad either.  Step back, really work on short distances, focus on dropping some weight and improving my speed.

So it’s something I’ll have to debate over the next few months.  A big part of it is just going to be scheduling.  I’m not just going to do any race – I want it to be the right race with the right timing.  I have some ideas.  We’ll just see where I land.

The Internet Bullies are At It Again

So it’s Wednesday, which is usually a workout recap day for me, but something happened on the internet yesterday that I wanted to talk about.  The internet bullies came out in full force.  I wasn’t their target, but that doesn’t make me any less angry and disappointed about what happened.

To briefly summarize:

A woman who ran Augusta 70.3 (who I had “met” in a Facebook group and who seems pretty darn nice) posted in a Facebook group about an experience she had.  She was wearing her Augusta finisher’s gear and a stranger came up to her and told her that it was inappropriate for people who didn’t do a race to wear finisher’s gear.  She considers herself a “bigger triathlete” so I guess this person didn’t think she had the right look to have finished a 70.3.

Does this look like a triathlete? Yes, because I'm finishing a triathlon.

Does this look like a triathlete? Yes, because I’m finishing a triathlon.

That’s a feeling a lot of triathletes have.  “I’m too big to do this.”  Sure, it’s easier to bike up hills if you’re carrying less weight.  It’s part of the reason I’m working to drop some pounds – I want to get faster.  Does it mean that I can’t do it at my current weight?  Nope.  Does it mean that I couldn’t do it 20 pounds heavier?  Nope.  So this woman wanted to share her story, share her frustration, and also her pride at having finished the race.

For the most part, people were friendly, congratulating her for having a good comeback to the guy, applauding her pushing through and finishing.

Then someone decided to go look up her finishing time.  (This is an a**hole move to begin with, let’s be honest.)  Turns out, she was an official DNF at Augusta.  Different race companies have different rules, but for IRONMAN races, if you finish over 8:30, you are officially a DNF.  They still let you finish, they still give you your finisher’s hat and your medal, but you just don’t have an official time.  Did you then finish the race?  I think so.  Maybe you’re not official, but you covered the distance.  It’s a very different situation from races where they give you a medal even if you get swept.  I suppose technically, you’re not a finisher, but you pushed through, got to the finish line, and now you have a goal to beat.

(As an aside, my personal opinion on this has more to do with what you put into the race.  Did you follow your training plan?  If you got sick or injured and had to miss some training, that happens, of course.  But if you put in the work, and on race day, things just didn’t go your way, you deserve that finish.  If you didn’t train, thought you could just rest on your laurels, and showed up and got an official DNF, well maybe you shouldn’t be getting all the accolades.  Heck, if you didn’t train and finished within the time limits, you probably shouldn’t be getting all the accolades.)

This guy calling her out on the official DNF didn’t stop there.  While plenty of people were still saying she had every right to wear the gear, others started to pile on the negativity.  And then it got worse.  Someone created a Facebook group to make fun of her as well as others, using her finisher picture as the header picture.  But this wasn’t just a private group.  No, they actually invited people they wanted to bully to the group.

People.  How old are we?  This is incredibly childish (actually, I think it’s an insult to children to refer to these idiots as such).  What is the point?  How awful must you feel about yourself to bully someone from behind a keyboard?

The fact that this was happening got shared in a few different Facebook groups I’m in.  And people were supportive and angry at the bullies.  But what makes me sad is that even though there were all these amazing voices out there, those mean voices are still going to cut through for a lot of people.  And some people who are new to triathlon, who are just considering their first race are going to end up stepping away because they don’t look like a “typical” triathlete and don’t want people making fun of them.

The thing is, 99% of the triathletes I have met are AMAZING people.  They don’t care how fast or how slow you are.  At Kona, it’s pretty much tradition that the winners come back out late in the evening to give the last finishers their medals.  You see it happen at other races as well, and it’s not unusual at any distance to see finishers cheering on the people still racing.  Because we all run the same race.

Don’t let the mean people scare you off.  And don’t let the mean people suck you in either.  Making fun of another person is not the way to feel better about yourself.  We’re all better than this.