Monday, March 2, 2015

The Direction of the Wind is Changing

"I can't change the direction of the wind
but I can adjust my sails"
 ~ Jimmy Dean

Up until recently, my annual racing schedule had been decided by this time of the year. I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to my plans; I need to know where I'm going and most importantly, I need to have plans to get there.

After Ironman Chattanooga last year something changed; something drastically changed. Immediately after crossing the finish line, I knew things would be different, I just didn't know why, or how. I had to figure it out.

Crossing the finish line at Ironman Louisville in 2011 was magical, a feeling that to this day, I can still remember and feel. I get somewhat nostalgic when thinking about it.  I'm not sure what happened but this same feeling escaped me at the finish line in Chattanooga. It was somewhat of a disappointment. I expected bells, whistles and fire works. There were none. With all due respect to all other races I've done, it felt like it was "just another race"

Had it not been for the fact that my daughter Juliana had already finished and was waiting for me with the rest of my family, this finish line would have been a total disappointment. Again, I'm still not sure why!

Don't get me wrong, I loved the journey. I wouldn't trade it for anything, nor would I do it any different. All those laps and miles, lots of them alongside my daughter, I will never forget.

As time passed, I found distancing myself more and more from a triathlon schedule for 2015. At the same time I found myself more and more rediscovering my love for running, after all, this is how it all started.

So I put this to the test. I started a running streak. I wanted to see what would happen. Would I totally love running every day, for an undetermined number of days, or would I find myself drifting back into the triathlon world?

As the streak grew, I found myself looking forward to next day's run. As it turns out, the streak lasted 101 days.

And then, just like that, it came to me. I knew what I had to do.

Every race I've run, over 70 of them (all distances combined), I have raced with only one goal in mind: To finish strong. To give everything I had that day. To leave everything on the course. To be able to come home and say that I gave it all. Looking back, I think I did this each and every time.

With one exception, I never ran with a "time" in mind. This was at the Middle Half Marathon in 2013. I trained and raced with the goal of breaking the 2 hour mark; I had never done this before. And this I did. My time was 1:57:51.

Looking back at this phenomenon, I can safely say that this was my "safety net". I did not want to commit, so I didn't. There would be no disappointment, there would be no let down.

And then it occurred to me. What if, just what if I trained to achieve something "specific"?  What if I trained to meet a time? I honestly don't know what I have in me, because with the exception of the before mentioned race, I never ventured to find out.

So I have this year's goal. I'm training to run a 4:25 marathon. My best time is a 4:51:27. Soon I will select a fall marathon in which I will attempt this. I have a couple in mind. This will be 26 minutes faster, or one minute per mile quicker than my best to date.

And what will happen after I reach this goal? Perhaps time to set a new, more specific goal. Perhaps it could be a return to a tri venue to challenge courses and times. Perhaps more specific and aggressive running goals. Only time will tell.

I have by no means given up on triathlons. It's just time to take a little break. I will volunteer at both Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga and Ironman Louisville this year. I have close friends racing both. I am sure that my coach will find time in my schedule to do some swim and bike cross training along the way.

"When the winds of change blow
some people build walls, others build windmills" 
~ Chinese Proverb