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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Done, done and on to the next one!

 It feels like just yesterday that Dave and I were feeling all liberated and anti-establishment when staying home on New Year's Eve and going to bed at 10pm, we are again (although, as I type this, Dave is at the grocery store, which is quite possibly the only more exciting place on earth than our den).  Another year has come and gone, and again I find myself thinking, well, "how am I going to top that one?"  After all, I think most are pretty aware of some of what 2013 brought.  For a brief recap of the pictorial variety:

To start the year, I got a sweet new ride.

In my first race of the season, I didn't exit the water in last place.

And finished with a PR in Puerto Rico.  Witty, huh?

Then I finally broke that 4:30 mark in Galveston.  No, I didn't win.  I just beat Dave, which necessitated the #1 finger.  On his birthday, too.  Boom!

Second place at IMTX.  Rocked sponges.  Yeah!

I had a drink the next morning.  This was a big deal.

The dogs enjoyed the Syracuse 70.3 experience.


This happened, in case anyone wasn't sure by now :)

Most importantly, Andy Potts touched me.

Dave made a new friend in Cape Cod

And represented for homemakers.

I raced yet again and made it to Kona.  And threw out Jesse's back in the process.

And so did Kim!  We have husbands, too.

We went to Hawaii, and ate lunch with a gecko.  Hi little lizard!

I rode my bike on the Queen K...ooooo.

No words needed.  Just thought everyone would want to relive this.

This about sums that whole race part up

That was a lot of Ironmans in not a lot of time.

Nailed the pose
But hey, we cleaned up ok the next day!
  So the question becomes...where do we go from here?  I've made it a little tough on myself to top this past year, after all.  Although I haven't made any sort of "official" blog announcement, I think that most of the people that actually read this blog (hi Mom and Dave, eventually!) know that a few things have not really so much changed, but have shifted heading into next year.  After two years of building a coach/athlete relationship like no other, Mary made the decision to leave QT2, which left me in a bit of limbo.  In that time, I'd experienced some successes and highs beyond any goals I might have had for myself when we'd first started up.  I was finally learning how to swim, too.  When you find a coach that fits you on a deep don't want to lose that.  But, at the same time, I couldn't see myself leaving QT2.  The team has just been far to beneficial to me, with the sponsorships, camps (even though I somehow always manage to return from them as some form of a total hot mess), training, overall support, and the friendships and camaraderie that have developed.  In all honesty, I'd had some idea this was coming, so I wasn't blindsided by any means.

   After some talking (I think Kim and I had actually discussed this while biking up a mountain in New Hampshire, which had effectively distracted me from the fact that I was bleeding everywhere at the time) and some careful thought, with my long-term progress and development in mind, I decided to remain with QT2, with Jesse taking the reins as my full-on coach.  Jesse has overseen what I've done the past couple of years (minus my "secret races"-which I maintain are good luck), worked with me at camps, and guided me between Placid and Tremblant.  So, overall no major surprises or giant adjustments were to come (although, my mild-mannered external nature masks the sarcastic snarkiness that often comes out in my training logs, and I was instructed that I'm actually supposed to answer my phone now and then).  We met a few weeks ago to plot and plan and test and basically figure out where I'm going in triathlon and life, and everything was positive and productive.  I'm feeling more focused than I have in the past, and there's a new found sense of clarity in what I want to achieve, and how I'm going to go about tackling what's ahead.  

  I'll keep the details to myself, but overall next year I'm going to need to continue to work on my swim (duh), really push on the bike intensity, and more!!  I'm quite excited by that last one, as we've spent the past couple of years working to convert me from a runner who dabbles in triathlons into an actual triathlete.  This was needed, for sure, but I don't think that running will ever stop being my favorite discipline.  Still, I'm honestly probably more enthusiastic about seeing how I can grow as a cyclist.  When it comes to swimming, I'm aiming for adequate here (realism), but I still have delusions that someday, I could actually be known as good on the bike.  Sometimes I wonder why I can get away without much intensity in my run program and still do relatively well, yet I seem to need the really high-end bike (and swim) suffering to improve.  But then I have to remember that I've spent many, many years pounding out track repeats, running cross country races sometimes twice a week, chasing teammates around, and pushing out regular road races.  On the bike, though?  I first sat on a road bike 4.5 years ago, and really only started doing intense intervals last spring, so it only makes sense that the approach should be a little different.  I'm starting to learn to embrace the bike suck, and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't enjoying it, at least a little bit.  

    As a whole, although I've spent the past few days laid up with my yearly cold (boo), I've been feeling...good.  I took a long, hard offseason after Kona, and although I was getting absolutely stir-crazy by the end of it and I was cranky at how out of shape I was upon resuming training, I now know that I absolutely needed it.  Heading into Kona, I was shot-plain and simple.  The comparison in body and mind (well, until this cold, but that will pass) has just been night and day.  I was just dragging both mentally and physically at the end of last season, no doubt about it.  I'm now at the nice, contented state of looking forward to my training and seeing what I can do each day, rather than semi-dreading it and just hoping to exercise damage control.  That little X factor, the one that makes me think, "I could hit y watts, and that would be ok, but I might as well try to see if I can get z instead, because that's even better" is back.  I'm also not entirely terrified of heading to Clermont camp this year.  I mean, I think we're all always a little bit scared of what Jesse can dream up at these things-which is probably a survival mechanism-but after all of my experiences in getting dropped like a sack of potatoes on rides, coming down with raging colds, crashing, and failing at flip turns last year, I figure that I can only go up...right?  There has to be some room for redemption.  At the very least, I'm flip turning now, for better or worse.  After that, if all goes as planned, my tri season will kick of at Ironman Los Cabos, and then continue on at Ironman Texas (because melting is fun, apparently).  

   Other than that, after parting ways as coach and athlete, Mary and I managed to dry our tears and forgive each other (kidding!), and then subsequently figured well, hey-let's join forces in a different way!  Over the past year, I've started coaching a handful of wonderful people, and have fallen in love with coaching.  I was starting to look for a way to make us a little bit more official, a little bit more supported over the next year.  With Mary starting off on her own again, it only made sense to roll us in together, and thus the Valor Triathlon Project was born.  Details are still all being worked out and we're starting small, but I currently have a great group of athletes that I'm working with, and the "work" is completely rewarding.  Mary has been great about handling most of the dirty work for me, which has been a godsend as I balance my own training, recovery, working, and coaching.  Overall, though, the direction that this has been moving in for next (well, now this) year is one that I'm really, really looking forward to right now.  

  So, overall...2013 was pretty awesome.  I have lots of people to thank for making it that way-all of my family, friends, and coworkers for supporting me and putting up with me and my semi-conscious states after training and my weird schedules, my coaches for guiding and believing in me, the brave athletes who made me a part of their lives and have given me the opportunity to guide and coach their journeys, and the myriads of kind others who have taken time to encourage, support, congratulate, etc me along the way.  But it's pretty over now, so it's time to start working on the next one.  Although I'm sure that 2014 will have its share of ups and downs, I'm ready to start taking it on and moving forward in this crazy journey!  A huge thank you to all of the continued support I'll be getting from some awesome companies heading into the next season, include quintana roo (the catalyst to my aforementioned bike dreams), Rudy projectPowerbarPearl Izumi, and QT2.  Happy New Year!  I fully recognize that I've had a very blessed year, and I wish for everyone to have the chance to realize a dream or two in 2014!

Merry Christmas from our dogs and our triathlon equipment!  We're not normal!

Hawaii ornament!

And a Placid IM ornament!