Race to train or train to race?

My post today is titled because I really don’t know which one of the tenets I follow – with my short triathlon racing career, I’ve been racing to train. I.e. my best effort comes only during races, not so much during training. Training has been sporadic and intermittent, however I’ve continued to train through the summer, just not in any consistent fashion. I wake up in the morning and decide, today I’m going to swim/bike and NOT run (it’s too hot) based on whether the husband graciously decides to share the UT parking permit (in which case I swim/spin) or who I have for company on a bike ride and so on. In general though I’ve been trying to focus on the speed workouts over the week through spin class, track runs for no more than 2-3 miles and 30-45 minute swims. On weekends I’ve managed to make it out to a couple of long training rides and gotten in a few trail runs with my friend Savi, so it hasn’t been bleak, just not planned and consistent. And you know what I’m fine with that because I really don’t want to be a Type A athlete that obsesses about everything and triathlons are as much a religion as anything else. I enjoy doing all 3, I enjoy the races and the training and I want to still have a life, go on vacation without wondering about it’s impact on training and eat everything!

So we went to Montreal for the jazz festival this past weekend and of course training sort of took a back seat. I packed all my training clothes but never managed to go out for a run, even though the weather was gorgeous. There was just too much else to do and I did want to kick back and relax, after a crazy week at work. We did go biking around the city and so I didn’t completely slack off. After we got back I felt sick and couldn’t really train much until Thursday when I went for a short neighborhood 5 mile ride and swam on Friday night. With mixed feelings I packed by transition gear with none of the excitement and enthusiasm I felt for Danskin, just a month ago.

I arrived at the race even before transition opened. It felt different w/o Bharath there but I didn’t have the heart to drag him out of bed for 7 hours of hot spectating again. Time to get used to going to races by myself if I want to do it often enough. Sha was the first to arrive. This was a Couples triathlon so the team’s combined time would count. My partner was Debbie Danford, she’s Coach Lorrie’s friend and was the only reason I signed up for the race. The difference between this race and Danskin were many. Danskin is way more beginner friendly – this race had a lot of intense triathletes and MEN (only way they can be is intense and competitive or they wouldn’t be there). I got out of the car and saw a grown, well-built man throwing up. I felt  a little better about myself. I wasn’t that invested that I wanted to throw up. I was just determined to have fun and have a better race than the last time.

The swim went of well. I think I swam a bit off course on the third turn buoy thanks to the wind. Sha and I got out around the same time. Sangy, Sha’s partner was off – she’s a strong swimmer. We swam together in the beginning and then had to chart our own course so to speak. Now, this was the exact same bike course as Danskin, around Decker Lake/Walter E Long park. I knew the bike course well enough by now so anticipating the hills helped. It was a lot less hot than I expected but windy on the uphills which was hard. I borrowed Gayatri’s hybrid because of Scarlett’s continuous chain issues, but I still wasn’t happy about riding a hybrid on hills. The frame is not made for speed and inclines but the bike did well. Gear transitions were smooth but the bike itself is a tad bit heavier than Scarlett and I felt it. My legs are not strong and I didn’t get to say ‘On your left’ much to anyone. You’d think I’d be used to being passed whether on the run or the bike but it still riles me. I’ve been doing endurance sports for a little less than a year now and I really wish sometimes I wasn’t slow at everything.

Bike ride went off uneventfully except the hills were hard and expectedly so. The run was actually not bad either. During Danskin I was barely able to run but I thought I ran for about 60% of the course this time and faster. Shaved of 2 whole minutes from the pathetic run I had. The weather did co-operate and we had some cloud cover on the run course. When the sun came out, I walked. I can’t fight the Texas sun. Not yet.

So overall, an uneventful race. Expected to do worse but I did better and set somewhat of a PR. Finished in 2.17.47 as opposed to 2.25 something that I did for Danskin. Coming to think of it, even the sporadic training might have counted towards it because when I did train, it was on harder courses like the Steiner ride or the trail runs. I did however decide I’m not doing another hilly ride on a hybrid. True, it’s not the bike, it’s me. But the bike helps. And I’d really like to train more on the bike and I just don’t want to do it on a hybrid anymore. For both real and superficial reasons (superficial cos one does stand out in Austin on the training rides on the hybrid and I’ve had it with people telling me – ‘good job on that mountain bike girl’, patronizingly. Ugh. At least they’ll know it’s me and then shut up when they see me crawl on the road bike.

We celebrated with dinner with the tri-oomph girls and the husbands, Sha, Sangy and I. Was a lot of fun! It’s a great blessing to have friends who have these interests, we help each other. Definitely get by with a li’l help from my friends!

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3 responses to “Race to train or train to race?

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