This summer I competed in the UNC Wellness Center Supersprint triathlon. It is a great pool swim triathlon put on by SetUp Events each year in Chapel Hill, NC. I highly recommend it for a midseason tune up race to be able to practice transitions and all 3 disciplines in a supported environment or as a first time triathlon experience. For me, it is also in a very convenient location, just 2 miles away from home, which meant I could easily ride my bike to and from the race.
I was pleased with my performance. I went out strong on the swim, I rode well and my run was solid. Then, the official results were posted and I found out that I had come in second place by ONE SECOND! (Have you ever heard the expression, “Comparison is the thief of joy?”) With the race being a pool swim, the person who beat me started about 20 minutes after me so I had no idea that she was that close to me time-wise. If it had been an open water swim and I had started at the same time as my competitor and I had actually seen her on the run, I like to think I would have come in first place. But, that is not how a pool swim triathlon works so the “If only’s” don’t really apply!
After seeing the results, I immediately started analyzing my race trying to figure out where I could have gained one second. Once I started the process, it was amazing how many little things I found I could have done differently. I could not have taken the second in the water to fix the strap on my watch. I could have practiced my flip turns under the lane lines a bit more. I could have racked my bike differently. I could have pushed a little harder on any one of the uphills on the bike. I could have put a little more effort into the second half of the 5k. I should have known the end of the run course so I wouldn’t almost miss the last turn onto the bike path…on and on. It was not much fun to realize how many ways I could have raced better or smarter. But, it was a good mental exercise and I will be more aware of these things during my next race.
The challenge now, is to move on from this experience and not allow my brain to continually replay all the mistakes I made in the race. My tendency is to to bash myself with negative self-talk and allow my mistakes to come back and haunt me in other workouts and races. What I am learning is that mistakes are okay, and can even be a positive thing, as long as you learn from them and move on and don’t let them define who you are.
So, does every second count? Absolutely. But, for me, what counts the most is how I choose to view my experiences. Am I letting my mistakes define me as a racer/person? OR am I learning from them? Knowing that I am a better racer/person for having had the experience.