22 December 2012

Recap - 2012 Athletic Goals and Season

I looked back at my blog entry from early January to find the six general goals I had set for myself in hopes of having a good 2012 season.  We'll just caveat this recap now by saying I'm not going to count the offseason because I've not met any of these goals on a consistent basis since October, when I had my last triathlon.  So, how did this year go?

- Improve daily nutrition habits.  I think I spoke about this one a bit in my post earlier this week about trying to eat more fruits and veggies and less butter after I chatted with Beth in the spring.  And let's be honest, my chocolate chip and Mini Egg habit needed to be checked at the door if I was going to fuel my races well.
12 months later and the sign is still here.

Love is when your husband buys out the local CVS for you during the post-Easter candy sale
Mr. Sweetie and I made an honest effort each week to cook most of our meals at home.  I also found it helpful that we signed up for the Washington Green Grocer, which delivered a bunch of fresh vegetables and fruits to our door every week.  We tried (mostly successfully) to plan our meals around the veggies that would be in these deliveries.  During the race season I didn't eat meat, but I like turkey and bacon too much to give it up during the holidays.  I have mixed feelings about eating meat - I don't believe it's a bad thing to have it, but I'm wary of the way much of it is raised here and the whole meat production process.  I read an article, I think it was in the NYT magazine a month or two ago, about the habits of the people living on a relatively secluded Greek island that led to their longevity.  One of the things they noted, besides the fact that they ate very little processed foods and lots of fruits and vegetables, was that they ate meat sparingly, about 5 times a month.  Food for thought (harharhar).  I don't know if I will give up meat completely in 2013, but I do like the idea of having it here and there, not every day.  I still need to drink more water daily.  

- Consistently strength train and improve functional strength. I was more consistent in my strength training in 2012 than I have ever been in previous years, but there is still loads of room for improvement.  Having the TRX in our basement is helpful and I tend to get the best workout when someone else is doing TRX with me, keeps things on task and focused.  When I'm doing it alone, I take longer breaks or skip exercises I don't feel like doing.  Even though I would skip a strength training workout here and there, it wasn't at a higher rate than when I would skip any of my other swimbikerun workouts.

- Get more sleep.  Ehhhh.  Didn't do a stellar job with this.  Took the computer to bed with me far too many times and allowed myself to waste too much time on Facebook and reading blogs.  Before I knew it, an hour had passed and I was still going to need to wake up at the same time the next morning, leaving me with one less hour of sleep.  I also feel like I'm always trying to fit in just one more thing into my evening and I don't make sleep the priority it needs to be.  This will still be on my goals list for next year, with the added steps of no computers in the bedroom and unplug from electronics (except the Kindle) an hour or two before bed whenever possible. 

- Do my workouts on the appointed days at the appointed times of day (i.e., get my lazy self out of bed before work in enough time to do something meaningful).  Even with the lack of sleep on days where I stayed up far too late the night before, I generally was able to get in two-a-days and do the workouts when I was supposed to.  My favorite days were the ones with 5:30am Morning Masters at Hains Point that started with a bike ride in the dark to the pool and watching the sun come up while doing laps.  On days where I would oversleep, I'd try to get a workout in before work through bike or run commuting.  In the spring, summer, and early fall when it was light out early in the morning, it was much easier to get up when my alarm went off.  Now that it's dark in the AM and I still sort of feel like I'm in the off-season, I've dropped the whole concept of an alarm clock.  I found that if I told myself the night before that I had to get up in the morning and do the workout, there would be no excuse to push it off to later, I would generally get up and get things done.  It was when I'd tell myself you can just do it after work, it will be a piece of cake to do an hour bike and hour swim in the evening that I'd find myself in trouble, not get up, and try to cram things in at the last minute.

- Be competitive in my age group.  I'm really happy that I was able to achieve this goal in a number of races - and in a few of the smaller races, I was competitive overall and not just in my age group.  The Monticelloman Half Ironman in May set the tone, with a 3rd place overall finish.  I snagged a 5th place AG finish at the Columbia Oly tri in May, 2nd overall at the Summer Super Sprint tri in August, 2nd AG in the 70.3 Poconos triathlon in September, and 2nd overall at the Watermans Oly in October.  I got my rear handed to me at Rev3 Quassy, IM Lake Placid, Age Group Nationals, and lets not forget 70.3 Vegas.  But I think the experiences where I didn't do as well were just as valuable as the ones where I had a strong race.  And while I didn't place super well at Quassy, IMLP, or AG Nationals, they were relatively solid races with most mistakes in IMLP being related to nutrition, and my weak swim leg being a liability at Nationals.  In short course you can't have a liability and expect to do well.

- Become faster in each discipline (sub-35 in the half iron swim, sub-1:15 in the iron swim, sub-2:45 on the half iron bike, sub-6 on the iron bike, sub-1:43 on the half iron run, and sub-4 on the iron run).  I finally figured out how to have a decent ironman and half-ironman swim: practice, practice, practice and then on race day, find fast feet and swim your heart out.  I finally made myself work hard during the swim leg of my races, rather than just la-la-la-la-ing through it, and it paid off.  I'd get out of the water winded, but see a 32 or 33 on the clock (once I saw a 29, but the course was probably short, womp womp).  With the exception of Vegas, all of my half Ironman bike splits were under three hours, and a few times I found myself in the 2:40s.  I made myself focus during the bike leg on my pedal stroke and turnover and really try to keep a cadence around 90rpms so I didn't burn my legs out for the run.  While I never found a sub-1:43 run (or a sub-1:45 for that matter) during a half-Ironman, I did alot of self pep talk on the bike to get myself excited to run.  Whenever I did that, I found I had a better run than when I thought negative things.  I've yet to conquer the Ironman bike and run, still finding myself well over 6 hours and 4 hours, respectively.  I think some of this was due to nutrition fails on the bike - too many calories, not the right kind of calories, not nearly enough water for the heat we were running in.  And not staying mentally focused during the bike and run, that played a role in it too.  I have my work cut out for me in 2013.  I'd like to get the Ironman monkey off my back and actually do well at that distance.

I loved the 2012 race season.  Not only did I find more success than I ever have before, I met so many new people and forged some really strong friendships and found some fantastic training partners.  By far, the friends I made and spent time with were my favorite part of 2012.  Mel Yu - I loved having the same race schedule as you and seeing you out on the course was always the boost I needed.  And now we have cyclocross too!!  Mindy, Sarah, and Katie - I can't decide which I love more, our training rides or cupcakes, or the fig/bacon/balsamic glaze pizza.  I can't wait to become an Ironman again with you guys in 2013!  Next year also calls for more social kicking with Kendra, and training runs and rides with Dawn!  Emily and Karen, you two were so, so great in helping me get into cyclocross this year.  I've totally found a post-triathlon season sport and that never would've happened without all of your help and encouragement, and bike-lending.  Jenny - we still need that baking and biking binge date.  With champagne.  And Kristin - you've been super generous in sharing with me tips of the trade and what you've learned about the sport and you are the a great example for how triathlon should be done - humble, hard work, discipline, yet still fun.  And Sarah, Stacey, and Julia do you have any idea how excited I am about Tucson Tri Camp in 2013??!!  I look up to and admire you all SO MUCH and I cannot, absolutely cannot thank you enough for all of the encouragement and support and cards and cheers you guys gave me throughout the 2012 season.  I feel so, so lucky to have friends like you.  And Jen - you are an amazing coach.  Truly incredible.  I honestly don't know how many athletes you coach and I can't imagine how hard it is to balance everything, but you always make me feel like I'm a top priority, you always have great advice, you always take the time to answer my questions, tell me what I need to hear, and you are super, super patient.  In short, you are awesome and I can't thank you enough for all you've done for me.

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