Monday, February 28, 2011


I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to even start saying what I want to say... lots of thoughts going through my head right now... so many that I have a hard time gathering them into anything coherent for this post! But I guess I'll just start from the beginning. I did a 20K TT on the bike yesterday. It was very hard. As all TT's are. I did fine- rode faster than I have all year, found out what my current max HR is on the bike, avg something like 23mph for 12 hilly miles and placed 3rdOA. I should probably have felt pretty satisfied with that. 

But I didn't. Hmmm.

I haven't talked to coach about it yet- though I know he'll just tell me to get over it and that I did just fine- and he will be right... and really, I'm over it now... mostly... but it's an interesting feeling to do well yet not be satisfied and I think it's probably something blogworthy to explore, don't you?

And now I'm stuck again, because as I try to write that what I did yesterday wasn't good enough, I find it silly to feel that way. But is it wrong to just want to be faster? I mean, we all want to be faster, right? And is it ever the case that we would have a super race and think, That's it! I am as fast as I ever want to be!? Or do we finish all races, even if we did our best ever and yet still think I want to be faster.

Maybe its insatiable. 

The feeling silly part comes when I think about the type of training that I have done this year, and my actual goals for 2011, and that it is FEBRUARY... If I take a step back and look at the Big Picture I see that I am doing very well- right on track- and should be happy. And when I look at it that way, I am. But yesterday was a race. A short little local race that means absolutely nothing, but a race nonetheless. And I got beat. Handily. But when the warm up you do for a race is the hardest riding you've done all year, is it reasonable to expect to be able to go out and win? To beat people who actually train fast several times a week? Um, not likely. So why does it feel shitty? Silly, no? I think we can agree on that.

So how do we fix it? Is it fixable? What do you do? Shy away from races if you're not going to be 100% satisfied with the results? That would probably mean never racing if it's actually insatiable and we're never truly satisfied. Or do we lower our standards and stop worrying about how fast we are? Is that even possible? Not sure it is for me? It's likely a matter of changing perspective and something that clearly I need to continue to work on because I have not mastered that.

This is where my athletes come in handy. In an email exchange with one of them yesterday, I was asked what I would tell one of my athletes if it was him/her who had done that TT yesterday and performed that way. Yep. Duh. I would have said, "Smokin'! Awesome job!" So why can't I tell myself that? This is why even coaches need coaches- to keep things in perspective in a way that is hard to do when it's you. It's so much harder for me to be objective and rational when I think about myself and my training and my racing-  yet so easy when I'm talking to one of my athletes. Of course.

Then this morning I got emails from two other athletes I coach who also raced yesterday. This is what I read:

Great job this weekend, I’m proud to call you my Coach. And,

Thank you so much for guiding me and celebrating in my successes and helping me through the hard times. Seriously you are such an excellent guide and inspiration. I really really like working with you and knowing you are out there kicking ass and loving the sport too.

Reading that washes it all away. All better. Mostly.


Molly said...

You are way faster than I'll ever be and yet I understand it perfectly. I should be really happy with how well I ran and rode yesterday to kick off my year. But I'm pissed at myself for missing out on top 10 by 24 seconds. I keep asking myself if I could have pushed just a little harder. I think as long as we only spend a little time obsessing about it and then move on to tackle the next goal, we're normal :-)

Mary IronMatron said...

I get it. I'll let you know if I ever figure it out.

Running and living said...

Yup, I get it too. Heck, even in races that I train for super hard and do super well I still feel I could do better. And, for me, this does not generalize to other aspects of my life, I am in no way a perfectionist:)

Iron Krista, "The Dog Mom" said...

Oh well now I need to go race and make you feel good again :-) j.k!

I think you are a BAD ASS, so there!

Betsy said...

I read something recently some where that said something about the only person your racing is your shadow. I like that perspective. If you go out and do your best that day you've raced your shadow and won. You can't control the competition, who shows up, how fast they are.

But....I am the exact same way. I honestly have never been 100% satisfied with results - other than maybe IMWI but it was my 1st and I got a stern lecture from my boyfriend that he would not tolerate any disapointment or moping about my IM time because finishing isn't even gauranteed.
That talking to was the direct result of a fit and a not so minor meltdown I had after a half last summer where everyone thought I did great except for me...and maybe my coach. We both knew it could have been better.

Long story short - there's lots of us that understand and refused to be satisfied!

Kathy said...

I don't think that people who love to race are easily satisfied, because you can't love to race, to really _race_, if you can't imagine that your limits are beyond what you are doing at any given time, right? But having people there reminding you that you are doing great is important, and listening to them is important too. Because even if you aren't satified, you have to get some satisfaction from it.

mmmonyka said...

I think that when someone goes into a race, one should have realistic expectation based on training one has been doing. Especially when you knows that you are in the middle of the training process, no fast stuff, no peaking for this race etc. And thus you should be ok with the results that are worse than you would have had if you had trained specifically for this race.
If you are not ok with it and "slow" race really bugs you and makes your confidence shoot down, maybe it is better not to race yet and wait couple more weeks.

That's my opinion. I hate racing unprepared. It really gets to me and than I do even worse than I could have done.

Anonymous said...

Definitely a blog-worthy post. You've got me mulling on it, as I'm discovering that I care a LOT more this year than last. Investing this much time and effort into something, and the stakes get higher. It becomes a part of you... and then we're messing with self-identity in every race, right? I'm not there yet, but I'm catching glimpses already.

All I can say is, stay passionate and don't lower your standards! those things got you to the place you are today, and they'll get you first across the finish line. You're inspiring, don't change a thing :-)

cherelli said...

hey - you can only do your best - comparing to others just...doesn't help much. But it does put fire in the belly...congratulations on a yearly PB, have fun getting faster and faster - and savour the small successes!

mtanner said...

I think your word totally describes racing in general, totally insatiable- it is a given that you have good days and bad days and that is all part of the game. Plus it keeps you coming back for more. I find it helpful to compare to previous years and where you are now. Don't worry Michelle- THIS IS YOUR YEAR!

Regina said...

Sorry, I didn't even know you were racing. I don't know much of what is going on lately; so out of touch.

Obviously, I think you did great. I also think that your reaction is typically 'you'. I mean that in a good way. I think you set the bar pretty high for yourself and you pretty much manage to reach it, but you seem to expect a lot of yourself on the journey there; maybe too much too soon sometimes?

I think we all feel dissatisfied with a great performance from time to time. It's the nature of the athlete.

Now that I have completely psychoanalyzed you, you can tell me I am full of sh*t, ha!

I think you did amazing and you are always an inspiration to me.

Angela and David said...

That hunger, or never being satisfied, is what drives most of us. Lose that, you lose a lot. I think the best always want to be better. So enjoy your success, you kicked ass and did your best, but yes, keep working hard and you can and will do better. When you know you've done all you can do, I think that's when you retire or you stop racing.

Kim said...

yup, i hear you on this post for sure. i think we all get this feeling, so youre not alone michelle!

Teresa said...

you are not alone in your feelings....but a reminder...we race the small ones to get ready for the big ones, the ones that matter!!!

chin up and your athletes are the messages they sent you!

Damie said...

I think we all struggle with this. All of the time. If you didn't, you wouldn't be competitive or care- and it is 100% okay to be competitive and care. I think it is a female thing to think you have to be gracious and happy about results even when you truly are not. Just keep in mind everything you already know- you are not training to win short TTs. You are training to do well in the IM. Take the TT feelings into the next month's training and keep working hard. xxxxxooooo

Kiet said...

Ha ha ha, I got your answer right here Michelle.

We think alike!