Last week at this time I was standing at the start line of 2018 Duathlon Nationals, in Greenville, South Carolina. I'm remembering this over a cup of coffee, surrounded by the sound of April showers outside (which, here in Ohio, will be mixed with snow later this week. Ah, springtime in Ohio!) It seems like two worlds removed from one another, and already so desperately far away.
The preparation and anticipation and hard work that goes into competing in an event like this builds the experience. We set up a plan, affix goals and milestones to our weekly training, attempt to simulate race conditions so we're not blindsided by the unexpected. We focus our energy on race day so that we can dig deep when it matters.
I've had a week to process the experience, and to sit down with results postings and performance data. I am a data geek and I love to crunch numbers and pull meaning from them. Angie and I both did very well in this race: we each took 9th in our respective age groups. That means a lot to both of us, since we know that competing at National Championships means that we're toeing the line with the best athletes in the country. It's a privilege for us, and we know it - and we are both happy with our results.
But we also know that we weren't quite as ready as we could have been.
Every race teaches us something about ourselves as an athlete. Racing challenges our strengths and exposes our weaknesses. It gives us an unbiased, delusion-free picture of who we are at that moment.
And if we're committed to the challenge (and we are), it helps us figure out what we need to do better next time.
I've been training essentially the same way for the past 6 or 7 years. I've been fortunate to have some natural abilities that didn't require me to spend a lot of time developing. I relied on that past iteration of my athletic self to get me to where I wanted to be this time around, and it didn't work. It made me realize that there are different features in this current landscape that need to be navigated around, and that old road map is simply not going to get me where I want to be. And if I'm honest with myself, I have to face the fact that I can't drive a Mazda the same way that I was driving the Maserati.
So I'm re-routing. My destination is the same, but I'm going to get there via a different road. I'm charting a new course to Du Nats 2019.
I've got a year to figure this out.