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Opening up about your racing goals

Posted Sep 13 2008 11:53pm

IMKY 2009:
Swim - 1:04 - 1:06
T1 - 4 min - 6 min.
Bike - 5:43 - 5:48
T2 - 4 min - 5 min.
Run - 3:40 - 3:50
Total: 10:35 - 10:59

There, I did it. I opened up about my race goal for IMKY.
Ok, now it is your turn.

Do you ever find yourself doubting your potential before a race? Doubting your race goals or race expectations the days before a race. What about a year before a race? Do you find yourself doubting your potential to go a specific time during a race, when it is months before you even start training for a specific race? Are we afraid of letting down our training partners or coaches if we talk about a race goal time and then not achieve that time? Or, do we let down ourselves, considering the race performance as a failure, if we don't go that certain time? Where do we get these times that become our race goal time? These are the numbers that we dream in our head during a company meeting, write on a notepad in your work/home office or visualize as you are swimming repetitive laps in a pool. These numbers or times, which become our race goal times, are not times that a friend, coach or pro athlete would do. These are our times.......right?

It is now a year before my Ironman and I'm getting excited for my upcoming Ironman. I know there are lots of athletes getting ready for IMFL '08 and many more athletes that have gotten the IM bug and have decided to sign up for an IM for 2009. I find myself wanting to interrupt conversations with friends, strangers or customers at the bike shop and just tell that person "hey, I signed up for IMKY!" That would be so silly of me but I just get so excited inside that I just have to admit how anxious I am to do another IM.

Now, about my racing goals. I have just under 11 months until my IM and I am thinking about my goal times. Why do I think of these times? Well, because I have 11 months to train my body for these times. I must train efficiently, according to my heart rate and raise thresholds in order to get faster. I must teach my body how to use as little fuel as possible and turn my body into a lean body in order to avoid carrying around unnecessary body fat for 140.6 miles. I have a year to build a base, peak and taper, all without getting an injury and getting burned out. And all this training will start before I know it.
So, with a year until my IM why should I talk about my racing times right now? Well, what if we all admitted our race goals 3+ months before a race. We are so good about posting on our blog about our speed or distance during a long weekend workout, times during an Olympic distance race that gave us a PR or our speed during an interval workout which occurs once a week. But, with all that training that we are so proud to post on our blogs, do we ever take a time to think about the big picture. Why we are training our body?
To some people, covering the distance is just good enough. A first time sprint tri, an olympic distance, half ironman or IM...just to accomplish 1 or another race is good enough to keep the winter time weight off and to keep you busy during the summer time. However, there is a beauty in transforming your body into a faster, stronger and leaner body...overtime.
When going into a race I believe that no one should be afraid to post, talk about or admit a racing goal. I find that people become discouraged when not meeting a goal time because that goal time was not achievable. For a sprint tri and 5K you can hope to go as fast as you can and try to get a best time. Your body can withstand the speed for that short amount of time. But for longer races than an hour, you must train your body to go a certain time. If we talk about 100 mile rides where we average 18 mph, why not have a goal time of 18-19 mph. If we can run long runs at 8 min miles, why not have a goal time of 8:00-8:15 min/miles during a race. Why do race times always have to be faster than what we do during training? I know the body needs to rest/taper before a race in order to get stronger but isn't training suppose to mimic what we do in a race when we put it all together? If you can't run 7 min/miles for 3 miles, how can you run 42 min. for a 10K?
For all the athletes about to do a race (IM or any distance race), think about the training that you put into your race and be realistic. Having said that, be optimistic and think about all the good workouts and have a range of times. Give your best scenario if all works out as planned and then a scenario that is still achievable but gives you a break if need a moment during the race. Don't be afraid to admit goal times well before your race. Aside from injuries, nutritional problems (remember, our body isn't much as we wish it could be) and poor environmental conditions, your body is always ready to race a certain time and you should not be afraid of admitting it.
Now, for all those athletes who have races in mind for 2009, think about the training that is involved to go a certain time and regardless of the time, be realistic of what you can do to prepare for that race. If you can have in mind a goal time for the months leading up to a race, training sessions become quality workouts and you are more likely to listen to your body and enjoy the art of training. And, if all goes as planned, you might surprise yourself and go faster than you thought.

*At my first IM I predicted I would go 11 hours. I had all my times written out for Karel, my mom and my dad and I gave them ranges so that they could track me as I was on the course. People thought I was crazy to go 11 hours and qualify for Kona in my first IM. But with the encouragement of Karel and lots of quality training sessions my body was ready for an 11 hour IM and I was not nervous for the race. Hopefully I will have the same great experience at IMKY 2009, especially now that I have a bigger support group (bloggers!) to keep me motivated and inspired. But I know I have A LOT of training ahead of me...and I can't wait!
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