Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Loose Ends

The end of July is allowing me to finish up some items and look forward to other. I previously mentioned a possible job change. As I understood it, I was one of two finalists for a dream-type of job for me. In the end, I accepted an offer to remain where I am. The offer includes a substantial salary increase as well as the opportunity to keep working on projects I enjoy. Perhaps the one thing I had possibly lost sight of was that over th last six-plus years, I had transformed my job into one where I was dealing with dream-job types of projects and that I am quite happy where I am now. Sometimes the grass really is greener on your side of the fence! In the end the other guy got the job; whether it was because I pulled out or he was destined for it anyway.....that's hard to say and doesn't really matter.

Now, I am looking forward towards my next triathlon in less that two weeks. Before last October's injuries, I qualified fr the USAT Age Grop National Championships for the second time. Tough I did not attend in 2012 I have decided to go this year. While I won't be at my ultimate best shape, I have recovered better than expected (at least in some ways) and I look forward to giving it my best effort and having a lot of fun, and then let the results just be whatever they will be.

I think that after this race I will be wrapping up my triathlon season to get in a bit of extra rest and turn to look at concentrating on a fall/winter running concentration. My goals will include some long trail races again. After we make it back to spring, we will see me looking back towards another Ironman Texas in 2014, and maybe this will line up to be the race I had hoped IMTX 2013 would have been before my lien juries and surgery.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Texas Star Triathlon 2013

I did this race last year and had a lot of fun. It was also the first race where I had a podium finish, winning first place in my age group. It might seem obvious that I would look forward to this race, though for this race my goal was not to win my age group but to get a good assessment of where my fitness is compared to this point last year and how far my recovery has come along. My plan for this race is best described in the words of my coach: "Focus every minute and PUSH, PUSH, PUSH." While my expectations for this race may have been more modest, my desire to get the most of this race was high.

The race opens with a 300 yard pool swim. I seed myself at a 5:55 pace, and have a pretty good swim that finishes at 5:44. This was just 15 seconds behind last year. I passed one or two other swimmers in the pool and was passed by none. At this point things are looking pretty good.

Next up is the 10 mile bike through the hills of Montgomery. I find a good groove and I push--or perhaps as Coach Michelle said, I PUSHED!--and I kept on PUSHING. Some of these hills felt tough, especially at this effort level, but but I kept it going. I finished the bike in 30:05 and feeling pretty good. This was just 24 seconds behind my time from last year, so I know things are going better than expected.

Now the run comes up and I take off giving my best effort. Most of the first mile is paved before running along grass fields and then through wooded trails. Because of the drought the ground is cracked in places and I have to watch my footing in places. Although the run feels tough in spots, I keep PUSHing and finish my running 23:05--31 seconds faster than last year. Now that surprises me more than any part of this race!

When you factor in my transition times being slightly slower this year, my final finishing time is 1:01:11, just 36 seconds slower than last year, which is also quite the surprise to me. Clearly I am farther along in my recovery than I was giving myself credit since I was hoping to finish within a couple of minutes of last year's time. This year, however, my age group included a much faster athlete who blew past me early in the run and finished about seven minutes ahead of me, but I was able to finish 2nd in my age group this time around. Given this result I am feeling more encouraged as I continue to go forward in my recovery. Perhaps even more important than that, I have been considering moving away from triathlon recently, feeling like I have lost my drive to keep going in the sport. For now, this race seems to have rekindled my old spirit somewhat, and I hope I keep feeling that way.

Now for some past race photos:
Karen and I. She won her age group.
Getting my award from the race director.
A fun photo with several of my teammates. Will (far left) was 3rd in his (and my) age group, Sasja (left) was the overall female winner, Lori (next to me) was first in her age group, and myself on the far right. We had a lot pf fun after the race!

 Next up for me in four weeks is the USAT Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee. I'm looking forward to going out there and doing my best, and having a lot of fun.