This past weekend was my second Tower 26 Spring Time Trial, where we look to compare times from our informal January 1000/100 yard TT to an only slightly more formal TT of the same distance. Gerry describes this as an opportunity to evaluate how effective the training has been, offering if no progress has been made this would be a good time to consider trying something else (which I smirk at each time I hear it). Last year I wrote an in-depth race report about my improvement in such a short time and hopes for the future. Although this performance exceeded my expectations I’d like to put the data aside for a change to simply reflect on a couple key differences and takeaways this year.
First noticeable point of differentiation was the amount of buzz surrounding this informal event. A couple weeks out I started to receive messages for sales on speed suits, then invitations to shaving parties with some intermittent smack talking. I knew it was all in jest however after a while the line between joking and serious began to blur. In January the thought of a swim TT was daunting but by May many club members seemed excited and eager to race fast. I was told not to take it too seriously however a large part of me wanted to do just that. It has been a tough winter not being able to race due to injury, forced to watch from the sidelines, and the thought of taper along with pre-race protocols was exhilarating and much needed for me.
So with Cinco de Mayo, First Thursday and my Birthday the week leading up to the event I went out to say hi to friends but didn’t drink alcohol and went to bed early. I instituted 48 hour rule and began adjusting my nutrition appropriately, despite it being less than 15 minutes of actual racing. I even looked to arrange workouts for most recovery and attempted to stay off my feet. It’s almost embarrassing to admit to these things for such a “nothing race” but as the day got closer I couldn’t help but feel more and more excited for the opportunity to race healthy and give it everything I had.
The culmination of all the buildup exceeded my expectations not just in performance but as a breakthrough in mentality. As I progressed the 1000 I spotted the clock to stick to the pace that was determined for me 1:20/100 yard, which is very easy math even in a state of oxygen deprivation. There was no management of exertion with this strategy. Even though I was less than a second off on any 100 through the middle 700 yards my perceived effort began to build along with pain, but unlike any other race of this kind as the clock ticked by the influence of pain was completely overtaken by my eagerness to negative split the last couple 100’s. Very new to me, for the first time I didn’t look to ignore or dismiss the pain but rather welcomed it, almost looked forward to it. It’s a feeling reminiscent to racing shoulder to shoulder through the finishing shoot, or in previous workouts after hearing Gerry yell “you’re going too fast, back it off”. It’s one I loathed as an athlete early in my career, but that I’ve grown to appreciate. And it only makes sense to me and anyone who’s shared my sentiment in the context that what we do matters, that we are in control of our body and the outcome.
To cut 30 seconds off my 1000 (close with a 1:16) and PR by another 4 seconds in my 100 after 18 months of sitting at 1:08 was extremely rewarding, especially in the presence of all other Tower 26ers. Swim meets are awesome in their visibility, compared to long distance races, and it was good to hear from my timer and buddy Chris “I could tell you were working for those last few 100’s.” It was also equally satisfying to see so many other triathlete friends shed time off of their PR’s.
Can’t wait for next year, but right now will look forward to the start of ocean swims in less than 2 weeks!!