29 April 2010

Mental Changes

I'm not sure what triggered the change or when it happened but it has happened. Regardless of what my loving husband would say, I am and have always been a very competitive person. Admittedly, it was really bad when I was younger; I'm embarrassed about just how bad of a sport I could be at times.

When I graduated from college, I started coaching teenage girls in volleyball. Perhaps that started, the change from "WIN, KICK A$$, NO EXCUSES, WIN MORE" to "how can we develop your talent, make you better than last week, last tournament, last year, make you happier as a player and meet your goals." Or maybe it was seeing that at 14-16 years old, there is no need to push that negative energy around. But slowly, I started changing my outlook on sports and how I participate. It became a mission of feeling proud about myself and what I had done to accomplish a goal, or being okay with the idea that a goal didn't get met because I had worked as hard as I could and I would just have to work harder next time. Satisfying the competitive side of me....with beating me and not somebody else.

So I bring this up because that mental change was a very slow and gradual process. Not just a sudden enlightenment. When I started triathlon, I just wanted to finish a little sprint. That was good enough, didn't matter how it happened, as long as it happened. Then my first season was focused on improving that sprint time as much as I could, with no thought of how to do so...just work harder. Once that goal was met, it was "let's finish an oly distance...just finish" and check for that. Then, let's try a 1/2 IM to "get back into shape post baby #1"...check for that.

My goals since that first half went like this 1) for the second 1/2 IM don't bonk...prepare nutritionally 2) for the third 1/2 IM don't walk at all on the run and now for this weekend's race 3) get as close to 5hrs 30 min as possible. You see, the first two goals had no planning...I just went at them as working harder and more mental focus. But last night's car ride with Tim to South Carolina really got me thinking about this last goal. It's no longer just the "work harder" approach.

Of course I have been working harder than previously...well maybe not harder, but definitely more regimented and committed to what I'm doing. I trust that what Marty has had me do since January has prepared me to be physically and nutritionally ready for this race...but he can't control the mental part of it (although I do enjoy pep talks on rare occasion *wink*). Tim was my pep talk last night. How can I be mentally prepared for this race? What needs to happen to ensure that I utilize all the training that I've put into this race? In other words...What is my race plan? Never had one of those before...like I said it was just "finish" or "work harder". What does that mean exactly?

A good chunk of the car ride was a discussion between Tim and I about what we both "need" to do to accomplish our goals for this weekend's race. For the first time since I started racing...I'm formulating a plan of how to accomplish my time goal, considering the training, talks and information I've gotten from Marty I'm really excited....but more nervous.

Seriously, it wasn't hard to improve on my first 1/2 IM time...it sucked to put it bluntly. I bonked, I was unprepared. The second go was much improved but still left much room for improvement. The third one was a wetsuit legal, salt water (with a current) swim...so of course my time was better. Now, it's really time to see how I can push myself given the training I've had...not wuss out and hold back....for as long as I mentally can stand it. It's a mental game. So the thoughts of "how much time can I realistically carve off of last November's race given the swim" are entering my mind. Alligators are in the back of my mind...not hitting my goal is in my mind. But what's driving me the most is the thought that is the smallest right now...what if I can blow that time out again? What if I can take another 10-15 minutes off that time? Holy cow...so I've got to try.

So the plan is to swim like I know I can (which is faster than I normally do in races because I get scared of drowning), suck up the "pain" on the bike and get as close to 2:50 split as possible, and then put a run together like I have been in training on my long runs (9 min pace would make me happy). I just have to repeat "You can do this" "You will do this".

I will try to do this...comes down to the 3 D's; desire, determination and dedication. I can do this.


N.D. said...

very interesting to read, Angela! I think my mentality change post Nick, but I think I'll get back into being super competitive again. You are going to do great - so exciting! good luck!

Angela and David said...

You can do it and you will do it! Good luck this weekend. The mental part of the game is the hardest part of the game and it sounds like you've got that under control.

Michelle Simmons said...

Awesome! And YES, you can do it! Now that the training has been done, it is really just a matter of letting your body do what it knows how to do. :) Have a great race!

Rebecca DeWire said...

Good luck! I can't wait to hear how it went.