Throughout my many years of training and racing triathlons (this year was my 28th consecutive season!), I’ve had many great training buddies, unforgettable teammates, and made countless friends. In general terms, this year was no different. But, on the other hand, there were some stark contrasts.
For several reasons, before this season I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to race and, after two years of very little training, came into it in the worst shape of my life. But, after finding out in April that I was going to be staying in the area, I was excited to start thinking about trying to jump in some races. In addition, I’ve struggled with a very painful hip issue for numerous years which made running difficult. However, when Monette asked me to run with her as she started to get back into it after several years off herself, I noticed that if I ran at a pace that felt really slow I could run more often and relatively pain-free. Yes, I know this sounds obvious, but I had to learn the hard way, I guess. While I could go out and average sub-7 pace, I wouldn’t be able to walk normally for days afterwards if I did so. I let go of the ego, or as much as I could, of running faster and embraced being able to do what I could without pain and while staying healthy. No, I didn’t miraculously run faster at races. Not by a long shot. But, I was able to enjoy training runs more and get outside more often, which I always appreciate.
That leads me into the big difference this year. I’ve always had a blast training for all three disciplines, and that hasn’t changed, except possibly that I appreciate the gift of being able to do what I do even more so than before. What is different, though, is that I didn’t stress about my own workouts at all, choosing instead to take advantage of training with friends and teammates whenever possible. Don’t get me wrong. I did put some great work in, especially on the bike. But my goal was more about enjoying the time with whoever I was with, soaking in the sunrise or new route, sticking with and supporting a friend who may be struggling during a workout, and embracing the occasional stoppage when someone wanted to chat in the pool, rather than making sure I was training as hard as I could/should be or doing whatever workout I felt was best for me personally. And, do you know what? It was so much fun!
As for racing, it was a similar story. I went to one race at the last second simply because a friend asked if I wanted to go down with him. And, at every race that I did, I was reminded of how lucky I am to have friends and teammates that make this stuff so enjoyable. As an example, I had what I’d call one of my worst races ever at nationals after hoping to bring back some old magic. But, when I think back on that weekend, that’s not what comes to mind. No, instead I first remember meeting up with an old friend and his family, my teammates and clients crushing it on the course, and hanging out before and after the race. Each race was a similar story in terms of the fact that what I remember most is sharing the experience with familiar and friendly faces.
The team aspect of the UNC Triathlon Team and the Triangle Multisport-Inside Out Sports Team made this year very special for me during a season that I didn’t know was even going to happen. I wish to extend a heartfelt and sincere THANK YOU to everyone involved, to everyone that joined me in a workout, to the race directors, such as our sponsor FSSERIES, that put on amazing events, to the phenomenal athletes on the team that continue to inspire me, and to our amazing sponsors that offer much appreciated support. You all are amazing. You make me realize how extraordinarily lucky I am. Let’s keep it going!