I have a knee-jerk reaction against New Year’s Resolutions. It’s the same way I feel about diets, weekly mileage charts, yearly reading challenges, number of words to write per day mandates, and so on. It’s not that I don’t understand their value or appreciate why they work for others. It’s just that for me, success is much more likely when I make something a daily habit. A lifestyle, some would say.
That being said, I’ve been recovering from an injury for almost four months now, and taking a look at what I accomplished last year and what lies ahead in 2014 is a way to keep connected to the role working out and racing has as a part of my identity. My knee is getting a lot better. I do my PT exercises every single day, no matter how late it has gotten or how tired I am. In the past few weeks especially, I’ve noticed a big improvement. I can half-run down the first five stairs in a flight. I ran ten steps to catch the plane train in Atlanta. I can consistently balance on my left leg without falling over. But I still haven’t been cleared to run, and as much as I love swimming, I’m tired of not being able to do flip turns and I miss the variety of swim-bike-run-HIIT-etc so much that I’ve been contemplating trying to invent a fifth swim stroke (breast stroke arms with dolphin kick, anyone?).
Plus I have SO MUCH incredible new bling for my bike (Christmas FTW!) that I seriously cannot wait to get it all installed and get a good fit. I have aerobars, you guys. As a Christmas present, I got the most amazing, beautiful new wheels:
Cat not included
ANYWAY, enough with the talking, here’s with the lists.
Things I’m proud of in 2013:
- Ran my first (three) triathlon(s)
- Placed 3rd in my age group in my first race, riding my 13 year old mountain bike without clipping in
- Learned how to clip in (ahem)
- Fell over learning how to clip in
- Won a 5k for the first time (the St. Olaf 5k, 1st place woman, with a time of 25:54)
- Won my age group in another 5k (25:30, Whisper Walk & Run Ovarian Cancer fundraiser)
- PR-ed my 5K (24:42) as part of the third leg of a triathlon
- Bought my own wetsuit. (And I LOVE IT)
Goals and races planned (so far) for 2014:
- I’m starting the season with (and have already registered for) the 2014 Summit Credit Union Couples Triathlon(fka the Capitol View Triathlon, also known as the first triathlon I ever competed in). My goal here is ambitious: to place among the top three women overall. My secret goal (I should really stop sharing my secret goals on my public blog on the Internet) is to win overall for women. Is this attainable? I don’t know. One of the things I find so interesting about triathlons is that there’s really not a great way to predict how you’re going to do. I can make predictions about my times, but I have no idea who else is going to be there or what sort of a day they’re going to have. This is a short bike course, which favors me, and I have made significant improvements to my bike, so I think I have a shot. If I don’t place in the top three overall, I want to win my age group.
- I also am planning to compete in (but have not yet registered for) the Door County Can’t Beat the Bluff! Triathlon. I suppose my de facto goal is to place (either in my age group or, hey, I wouldn’t complain if it were overall), but my real reason for this one is to practice swimming in Lake Michigan, one of the great lakes. I need to brave the cold, the waves, and the vastness because…
- When I first hurt my knee, I was depressed about not being able to train (I had no idea that four months later I’d still be rehabbing) and USA Triathlon was tweeting all about the Age Group National Championships that were going to be held in Milwaukee in 2014 for the last time until who knows when. So, feeling sad, my knee hurting, and after a drink, I got on Twitter (always a recipe for success) and this happened:
The beginning of the end
Well, what else could I do but register? To be fair, I did some due diligence by looking at the finishing times in my age group for 2013, and calculated out some conservative estimates for myself, and I see myself about in the middle of the pack in my age group. I’m much more nervous about surviving an aggressive swim start in Lake Michigan, but I feel like I have to take advantage of how close the race is this year. I visualize the swim start every night before bed and practice breath control and active recovery every time I’m in the pool. I’m hopeful I’ll survive.
Those are my three planned races this year, but I’d like to do two more triathlons and a few ad hoc running races (Berbee Derby, I’m looking at you). I haven’t decided on the last two tris, but Devil’s Lake is tempting me for an end-of-the-season challenge.
- Learn to race without socks.
- Learn to leave my bike shoes clipped in, putting them on and off while I’m on the bike.
- Learn to ride with aero bars (probably goes without saying, but hey, what’s a blog for but saying stuff)
- Get better at basic bike maintenance on my own
And, of course, swimming remains a big focus for me. I know it’s the shortest part of the race, but it’s the scariest, it’s the most stressful, and it has the largest possibility of death involved, so I think the focus is warranted. I personally think I’m doing quite well in the swimming realm. In my last tri of 2013, I finished the 400 m swim in 7:03, which I’m thrilled with. But I’d like to try to avoid the open water panic this year. To that end, I’ve started taking allergy medicine and am working on a strategy with my doctor that will allow me to actually train in open water in the summer of 2014. I’m so allergic to fresh water lake algae that last year I felt like I had to “save up” my allergies for race days and then spend a week (or three) miserable afterwards. Now we’re going with a prevention is the best medicine strategy to keep me loaded on Zyrtec ahead of time. The more time I spend in open water, the more aggressive I can be on race days. That’s the plan anyway.
My other super secret swimming plan (see above re: secrets on the Internet) is to practice sprinting the first 50 – 100 meters of the swim to get away from all the kicks and elbows and toenails (I got cut so badly by a toenail by a fellow swimmer once that it took more than three weeks to heal) and then swimming at a steady pace after that.
Finally (this post has gotten way out of control): running. For the first time, I’m going to incorporate speed workouts into my running. I don’t know why I’ve never done this. I do this for every other sport I’ve participated in, but running was always about trudging slowly through whatever distance. But a major goal for this year is to go to the high school track and run some speed intervals once a week.
And finally, some random asides:
- Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@msricha5). I try to write funny tweets, but I also complain about the weather a lot. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m sure that as I continue to rehab my knee and if the deep freeze ever ends, I’ll be tweeting a lot about triathlon.
- This has nothing to do with anything, but the list of goals for 2014 makes me think of it. I have gotten so tired of feeling that I have a million things to take care of that I’ve entirely stopped making to do lists. I don’t make them at work, I don’t make them on the weekends at home. I’m just done. Oh, I still make lists, for sure, but now they’re called “Goals for Saturday” or “Goals for today.” It’s made my life a lot happier (more impact than you’d think), and that’s my gift to you, if it helps at all.