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On Racing, Not Racing, & the Fallacy of Perfection

It’s been a quiet start to my year, and I wanted to put out an update of sorts; bring my triathlon peoples up to speed on what has been going on in my new corner of the world here in Colorado Springs. If you’ve read any of my past blogs, I often get a bit analytical about things and I like to come to larger conclusions…let’s call it being ‘contemplative’. I’ve raced for many years and while it’s great to think and ruminate about our circumstances, I find it best not to do so too close to a race…better to get all the emotional, heavy crap out of the way well before race week. Because I’ve also learned, when we race, there is little room for emotion; at least during the race, and even at times in the final lead up. On this note, when I think about my past 4 months and the start to 2016, I keep coming back to three concepts: Racing, Not Racing, & Perfection.

Let’s start with Not Racing. In my little world lately, there’s been a lot of this. When you’ve come to make the vast majority of your living by competing, Not Racing kind of sucks. The last major race I did was Kona, last October. I had grand plans to try to qualify for the Olympic Trials by running a fast half marathon, but a tweak to the body and ‘life’ got in the way (packing up and selling our house in Austin, a move across the country, saying goodbye to my buddy Corgi). But I’m resilient. I figured we would settle into our new place in Colorado late January and I’d be off to the races (triathlon kind) by March. The tweak which should not have been ‘major’ persisted, so I yanked my name off San Juan in March. But, for sure I would be ready in April to compete in Galveston…nope. I made the ‘wise’ decision to pass on this one as well. So while I rarely kick a season off with an Ironman, that is how it will be this year; but in hindsight, I think it’s all been for the best. The move to altitude and training again up high has definitely been an adjustment. The move itself was of course physically a bit taxing. Given the months to settle into a routine, my body has felt stronger, recovery has been better and even said ‘tweak’ is finally cooperating a bit. I think being forced to be patient has been the best thing that could have happened, whether I liked it or not. Not Racing also makes you hungrier to race. While no doubt I’ll be nervous, I’ll also be more appreciative and grateful to toe the start line. These are all good things in the big scheme.

Racing. It really is ‘why’ we all do this; so we can go out and test our limits. So we can have the opportunity to explore new boundaries for ourselves. And it doesn’t matter at what level…anyone who works hard for something to ultimately have the chance to test out what they’ve worked FOR, they’re racing for something. Next week, I get the chance to race. Despite last minute changes and uncertainties (what, in real life, IS certain?) I get to step on a start line with thousands of others. It’s always unique, but I think when we experience setbacks and plans don’t go accordingly, it’s even more special. I’ve honestly laughed at the questions of “Will we have a bike course? What will be it? How long? How many loops?”…because I know I can’t control any of that. What I can control is my preparations and the attitude I bring. There have definitely been moments in my life I HAVE freaked out about these things; but it’s funny how experience, perhaps age, and even circumstances can change your outlook. Now, I am simply thrilled to get to race. In the much larger picture, it really is a privilege.

Perfection. This word kept popping into my head in the sense of “this sure hasn’t been a perfect build up to the race.” Then I realize how absurd this is. I’ve raced now for 14 years; let’s call it 80-100 triathlons I’ve tackled. How many can I recall as being ‘perfect’? I could maybe count them on one hand. If I’m chasing perfection in the sport, suffice to say, I’m losing. Perfection is largely a fallacy. What would be perfect, having raced San Juan and Texas 70.3 and won? Or finished Top 3? Not really, because in no way would those results guarantee a better finish at Ironman Texas. Would perfection have been not dealing with an injury that forced me to run far less than ideal? If you suffer an injury like this you can go ahead and read more on this lawyers website to know what to do next. Not necessarily, because I’ve dealt with it and I’ve put in all the work I’ve been able to; and in this, I take confidence in having stayed positive. I’ve chosen this path in my life precisely because it is a challenge. I like challenge. I like the unknown. It’s exciting, it’s scary and it holds a lot of power. So I just need to call bullshit on myself for this idea that “the race buildup has been far from perfect”. I’ve done everything within my capabilities, given my circumstances, to be as prepared as possible. And when I go race, I’ll do my best, on the day, in the moment. And to me, that sounds pretty perfect.

4 replies on “On Racing, Not Racing, & the Fallacy of Perfection”

Great update and thoughts! I look forward to seeing you next week and hope I can be finished with my work on the bike course by the time you finish. I really resonate with your conclusions on perfect race training!! Go Kelly!!

Stay strong, trust me I’m right now at your position , after the Tri Camp came back to Puerto Rico and did the First Tri of the PR Tri Series, got a 5th and that following week my back went of. It’s been a tuff pill to swallow not been able to train and my Championship Hopes don’t look good, But is making me think that I’m not have to be perfect , that I have nothing to prove to nobody but myself and that I can still have fun while doing these crazy thing that we call Triathlon jajaj . Good Luck and Take Care of Yourself

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