>So despite my super exciting plans I am lining up for next year, I would be amiss to not reflect on the past year. I think 2010 has been a great year for me. I had a good ’09, but, looking back, there were few races I really felt that I nailed. I also had 2 DNF’s in ’09. That being said, it was also the year that I finished my first 100 miler and first Ironman; while they were not quite where I wanted them to be, I think the base of training and the experiences of racing those distances really started to pay off this year. I’m not going to just recap the results, those are on the blog and the race reports are in the archives if that’s what you want to read. Instead, I’ve compiled a little list of 2010 lessons:
“The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.” -Juma Ikaanga
This year I learned a lot about the value of preparation. Before Old Dominion, I knew the course. I thought more about what I would need to get me through that race than any other race. And, above anything else, I finally put in the miles and the workouts that racing a 100 miler requires. It paid off. Not only was I able to run well, but I was able to race. I was able to have fun, and enjoy the moments. Well, most of them 🙂
I also took cycling to a new level of preparation for IM Wisconsin. I rode more than 5 times the amount of miles I did in 2009 before Louisville. Because of this I was able to ride 15 minutes faster, on a notoriously harder course. Once again, the work paid off. I also found out that I actually *like* riding bikes! This will only help me in the future.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
After Old Dominon, my training was scattered. I tried to get on the bike and keep running, and get in the pool whenever I was so motivated, but there was no rhyme or reason to the training. I knew that I would be able to get through the IM based on my 100 miler fitness, and I was taking that for granted. Because of that, I put out (what I would consider) an average performance for myself at Wisconsin. While I shaved off time, I still didn’t make the race into the complete package that I know I can. It has become more clear to me that I can’t do both ultras and tris, and get them both to the level that I expect of myself.
Winning matters….but only so much.
I used to try to win at least one race a year. This meant I would jump into smaller races when they weren’t on the training schedule or didn’t really make sense for my goal at the time. Looking back at this year, my one ‘W’ really doesn’t mean anything to me (though I do like the bling). I want to win every race I run, but ultimately even a 2nd place (Syllamo/Old Dominion) or even a 13th (Wisconsin) means more to me than the 1st.
Ride in to the danger zone.
Well, I couldn’t find any good cliche about “comfort zones,” but danger zone will do. This year I dared to step outside of my comfort zone a little bit and race some shorter races. While Miami was a brilliant failure (who races well after 2 nights of mojitos anyway?) I did a 5K over the summer and just recently a 7K turkey trot. In both of these races I exceeded my own expectations. It is fun for me to break out of the “long slow distance” mold and show people that ultra runners can have speed too! Not only that, but it bodes well to give myself a different challenge every now and then – it only serves to make me stronger.
“You came here for this.”
Eric Grossman has been writing a great motivational series for the Running times. This is the link to the piece that the above line came from. This year, I spent a lot of time debating what I was looking for in my racing. The training is time consuming and hard, and there’s no guarantee that it will pay off. After this year, I have reaffirmed with myself the reasons that I race. And when the going gets tough, I think it’s important to remember, simply, that I came for this. I signed up. I didn’t sign up for an easy day. I knew that the race I wanted to run would require my time and effort, and I expect it to challenge me. I expect it to help me grow as an athlete and a person. To put it simply, the hard times are what I race for, and I should embrace that.
So here’s to a great 2010. And to an even better 2011.