Rodney, a fellow 2012 TrainingPeaks ambassador, recently posted an excellent Q&A with himself about his goals in triathlon, for this season and overall. I thought I'd do a sneaky copy/paste and ask myself those very same questions.
Why are you racing?
I started racing because I was doing those 3 activities (swim, bike, and run) as rehab from surgery for a knee injury in 2007-8. A lady in the pool's change rooms gave me my first (neon pink) swim cap and told me to sign up for a triathlon, damn it! So I did, the moment I got home.
I race triathlons now because I absolutely love improving myself and challenging myself. I also like to make myself suffer, because you become a stronger person as a result, and you definitely learn a lot about yourself. So, although suffering sucks, it's worth it, in the end.
Additionally, I have been very competitive from a very early age (just not in sport). I had to be better than ALL MY FRIENDS. At the time, it was school grades. And I was, I was better than everyone. Nerd alert! So when school no longer challenged me, I stopped going. Of course, I could continue on with my education, which is what society wants me to do, but because I know I can do it, why do it? Triathlon presents a huge challenge for me. I've declared that I wish to become professional, in time. This endurance sport is a vast puzzle, and I am young enough to declare war on it and seek to acquire my pro racing license. Am I good enough yet? God no, I'm floating around the top third of my age group, but never even been on the top step of my age group, let alone amateurs. That doesn't deter me, I'm going to do it. So I train (and especially race) triathlon because success is not a given, and honestly, in school and the scholastic arena, for me success was soooooo a given. I was bored. By the time I was nearing the end of my bachelors, I was testing myself to see how little work I could do and still get the best result. For example, after classes were done and before exams were to begin, instead of studying I flew from Melbourne to Cairns to race the Challenge Cairns half-iron and go traveling for 1 week, flew home, slept for 8 hours, went to my swim squad in the morning, a couple of my fellow swimmers took me out to a farewell breakfast (I was leaving Melb permanently in a few short days), I studied for half an hour, then took my exam. I got an A (or H1, the Australian equivalent). In short, bored.
Triathlon doesn't bore me, it intrigues me. Thus, I've presented myself with the challenge of becoming professional (and it IS a challenge, given I've no innate athletic talent, whatever speed I have I've worked hard for).
What are your triathlon strengths?
Good swimmer, strong runner (off the bike, not necessarily speedy), and namely: I. don't. slow. down. I will willingly kill myself before giving up, and have only DNF'ed twice: once was a bad bike crash in a sprint tri and the second was the half-iron 'A' race 6 days later. I hadn't been able to walk the entire week, but tried to race anyway. I got through the 1.9k swim, 90k bike and 6ks of the run before my other leg went numb from overuse and imbalance. I pulled out.
I also know when to take rest. After experiencing anemia combined with overtraining, and needing to spend 3 months coming out of it, I relish my rest, and have learned to despise feeling stale.
I guess another strength would be that I'm young and have the time and mental fortitude to commit. Now I just have to find the right coach, be patient, and put in the work, all of which I am willing to do!
What are your areas of improvement in triathlon?
I need to become a stronger cyclist, especially on the flats, and a more powerful runner. That means strengthening my weak-ass girl body. I need to continue racing so that I can figure out how much I can push against that red line. Usually I don't push myself to the limit and could have gotten more out of myself. On the rare occasion, I overshoot so drastically and crawl home (my 12:29 rather than 11:30-11:45 IM Louisville 2011 finish, oh god, I couldn't even see properly the last half marathon, because I was overeager in that first half marathon. THAT was pain...)
What are your previous times/rankings for the same or similar events?
4th AG almost always... that's a curse I am trying to break.
Swim PB: 31:03, but regularly floating in the 31-34 range.
Bike PB: 2:51:10, but, unless something goes horribly wrong, I should expect a sub-3:00. Indeed, I'm struggling to express my cycling fitness in races. I'm a sub-2:45 cyclist, but I am also disproportionately, it seems, affected by wind and rough roads (why, again, do I live in New Zealand? Ha! ... Just kidding, amazing training grounds to toughen me up)
Run PB: 1:47:00, and always getting better!
Identify the items you have to work on before your next race.
- Strength training the lower body and core
- Speed work on the run
- Sustained speed work on the bike (e.g 3x30' @ xx watts... I lose focus/don't want to)
- Staying in race mode, even if on un-challenging or ugly courses
- Not over-hydrating on the run (race day specific)
In three sentences or less, define a successful race.
I swim to my ability and never above. My bike split finally showcases my ability, and is consistent. And my run is not overeager nor is it pedestrian; it builds in effort (and aggression). I purposely rein myself in in the first half and don't make excuses to unleash in the second half. I maintain focus, and I fuel myself properly.
I'm eager for my fun training races in the next few summer months in and around Wanaka, NZ... and I am especially eager to re-visit the IM distance (IMNZ and IM Cairns, March and June 2013 respectively).