Sunday, January 7, 2018

B Words

This time of year you're going to see a lot of blogs and posts on all types of social media stating things like "This is my year! I'm going to be a totally different person!" "I'm going to lose those 50 lbs I've always said I would!" "I'm going to be better with my money this year!" It's great, I love to see everyone with so many resolutions. What I don't like, is watching people fall off the wagon.

I don't like to think of myself as a resolutioner. I like to think of myself as goal-oriented. I believe there is a difference, resolutions gearing more towards a lifestyle change while goals can be as simple as learning to ride a bike. Goals, if set properly and realistically, can lead to a lifestyle change.

The older I get, the more I live for the small wins in life 

I entered 2017 with some big goals for my Ironman performance. I laid them out for you in the beginning of the year, and then you watched me literally fall apart during Ironman Texas in April.  It was a hard pill to swallow, watching all of my hard work over the winter literally go down the drain. But we all know that the Ironman world is SO much a game of chance. You can follow the strictest of diets. You can recover like a champ and nail workout after workout, but if the wind isn't blowing your direction on race day that's the way the cookie crumbles. What I never expected after Texas was to formulate a brand new shiny goal {Qualifying for the 70.3 World Championships} a month later. And when I snagged that last qualifying slot of the day at IM 70.3 Wisconsin a month after that, you can definitely say my world was flipped upside down. It just so happened my cookie crumbled in a direction I never expected. 

Clearly 2017 took me in a direction I never could foresee. When it comes to racing and training, there are a few key items I like to follow in order to help with success, regardless of which direction it takes you. Here are the key lessons I learned in 2017 and will carry with me in the future.

1. Reflection is KEY

Looking back on racing and training and taking the time to lay out what went wrong, what can be tweaked, areas that can be improved on. This is something I've learned over the years. I wish I would have started blogging years ago, because the more I do the more I learn from it. Writing down my thoughts post-race and re-reading them in the weeks, months, and years after the fact has given me more than I ever imagined it would. {Caveat, I had to be coerced into starting this blog by a few people. I dreaded it in the beginning, I won't lie. Now, I can't imagine where I'd be without my keystrokes.} Now, this doesn't mean that EVERYTHING gets published for the whole world to see. I have plenty of drafts that will likely never see the World Wide Web.

Sometimes the week after a big race is almost as stressful as the week before the race for me. I've usually just gotten home some exotic location (ha!), have a mound of laundry, sleep to catch up on, and food to prepare for the week. And usually the first thing I do when I get home from work every night is grab my computer and start typing. The longer I wait, the sooner it slips away forever. No, I don't have kids to tend to so I understand this is a huge luxury a lot of people don't have. But even if you have to create a note in your phone while the kids are doing their homework to jot down some thoughts, it's well worth it. 


2. Stay in the moment 

Racing an Ironman, a Half Ironman, or a Marathon are all very long events. If you're having a bad day, it can be so easy to let your mind take over. Thoughts like "I'm never going to get off this bike!" or "I have to run another 20 miles!?" can easily be game changers. Letting yourself focus on what's ahead is never going to get you in the right headspace. Never wish yourself out of the water. Never start praying to ditch your bike at mile 70 {because at mile 6 of the run you're gonna wish you had it back}. Never EVER wish you could be at that finish line as you finish loop 1 of the run.

Why? First and foremost.. obsessing over what you have left ahead of you can be extremely daunting. Taking the rest of your uncomfortable ride 5 miles at a time is much easier on the mind. "Sure, I can ride 5 more miles." The next thing you know, you're lacing up your running shoes.  But for me, I'll never wish away a race. I can't think of anything else that brings such a high as racing. The hours before the gun goes off. The smell of the open water. The extremely little patience I have with my spectators pre-race because their pace isn't mine and I need to be in transition like 30 seconds ago to check on Matilda. The rush of diving into the water with how many strangers around you, all fighting for the same position. The monotony of the bike, which also has the power to make you feel most alive throughout the entire race. The pain of the run, the part of the race that truly separates the men from the boys. The hysteria of the finish line, and the emotion that immediately follows, sometimes for days at a time.

This is why I'll never ever leave the moment I'm in on that race course. 

One of the biggest differences between a Pro athlete and an Age Group athlete (I believe) is how they race. Pro's are extremely methodical with their races. Every aspect of the day is analyzed, dissected, and meticulously thought/planned out to the best of their abilities. But Megan... I plan out my races too! You're right, we do. Us Average Joe's obsess quite a bit over the little things. But at the end of the day, we're raw and race with our hearts.  

3. Flexibility

Half of the racing and training battle is learning to train the mind. Many (if not all) of the people I've met in this sport are extreme type A personalities. We have schedules for everything and once a wrench hits the blueprints, all hell can break loose in our minds.

Did you oversleep and miss your morning workout? Consider it a sign your body needed the extra rest, preparing you to comeback strong for your next workout. 

Did you have to stay late at work and now you don't have time to cook that healthy dinner you know you need? That's why God made these things called restaurants, giving us umpteen choices to choose from. Make the right choice and your takeout meal can be just as healthy as homemade.

Laundry piling up? Sink full of dishes? A layer of dust on everything? But you need to sit on the trainer for 3+ on a Sunday, right? Time management is key. Load that dishwasher before you ride, start the laundry ASAP and it gets done when it's done. And that dust? Clorox wipes. I'm tellin' ya, they're magic.

I'm sure I'm telling you nothing you don't already know on the flexibility front, but sometimes it does us all good to hear it again. We all need a little reminder once in a while. It is what it is. Let it be and move on, always looking forward. I had some serious curve balls thrown my way last year, and I always had a choice. Let it get to me, or deal with it as is and move forward.

So Megan, now what?

So if you've been reading along, you know I've been hinting at my racing future for the past few months. Sitting at awards in Chattanooga in September (the 2nd trip, the full Ironman) I sat at that table and had myself a little meltdown. Kati consoled me while Ryan walked up to the table at just the right moment, witnessing it all. I knew my 2017 a season was something most would love to have, but I couldn't help but wonder, where would I be right now if my run were in better shape? I spent SO much time over the past year trying to get my bike and swim up to speed, and I sure did. My run didn't suffer necessarily, it just didn't improve. 

So that's why I'm about to go through more running shoes during 2018 than ever before.

I need to run faster. I need to be more consistent. I need to learn to take my mind and my legs somewhere they've never been on the run. And that's why I'm devoting 2018 to the art of running. I'm already signed up for a few smaller races, and of course, my "A" race of the year. And this year, I couldn't be happier to say that I'm taking Nuun with me. As an ambassador for Nuun for the 2018 racing season, I can safely say I'm extremely grateful that I have the ability to stay hydrated all season long with my favorite electrolyte replacement. If you're interested you can find more information about Nuun here. 



Megan stop being so vague, where are you racing this year and what are your big goals!?

Ahh right. Minor details. The big show of the year happens in June this year. I'm rallying the troops and heading north, damn near the Illinois/Canada border to Duluth, Minnesota. The ever so popular Grandma's Marathon that resides in Duluth, Minnesota. 



And if you're any sort of runner that has looked into these "destination races" you know the main reason people go as far north as Duluth, Minnesota to run a marathon.... 

BOSTON OR BUST

Yep, you read that right. I was in Boston in 2012 to watch my girl, Kait (whom you've met before) run the Boston Marathon on a sweltering hot day. But the next time I go, I want to be the one running that race. Go big or go home, right? I have 6 minutes to shave off my marathon time, and more if I want to guarantee entry (which I do, obviously). It ain't gonna be easy, but I'm up for the challenge. But like all things in life, I won't get there alone. So I want to ask a small favor from everyone. 

If you see me on the streets while I'm running and I appear to be struggling, roll your window down and remind me to get my head out of my ass because Bean Town is calling my name. Seriously, I'm in for a world of hurt this winter, so I'm gonna need all the help I can get. But I honestly can't wait. 

2018 here we go.

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