Training Week 22 & The Mental Hurdle

This week was a weird week.

I was stressed at work with looming deadlines and meetings on top of meetings. Of course I was still training and trying to get in my last big mileage week before I begin to taper. This weekend was jam packed too and we just had a ton of stuff going on. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel a few times. I wasn’t really feeling like myself all week. Even my husband pointed out that I wasn’t being the positive, optimistic person I normally am. Something was off. My attitude was different, I was super irritable and I was stuck in my own head. Suddenly I felt hesitant in my abilities. I was questioning everything I had done these past 23 weeks…

I can trace it all back to one minor, tiny (and stupid) thing that happened. [And I will preface everything by saying that I am NOT the type of person to get butt hurt over social media comments. I’ve seen fights go on in comments before and I’ve thought to myself that those people need to get a life.] With that being said I was really taken back by the comments I received after posting a question to my local triathlon club Facebook page this past week.

The image below was my question:

facebook-questionTo my complete shock and surprise the majority of comments I received back from this question were rude. (And they were from my own “teammates“.) The comments crept into my head and made me question everything. I asked an innocent question and was shot down with judgemental questions and comments from people who were supposed to be there for me (since we belong in the same triathlon club). I had never even met many of them before. I would cringe when I got a notification because I didn’t want it to be another rude person commenting on it and talking down to me. Has anyone ever felt like this before? It’s a terrible feeling. Half of me wanted to delete my question, but half of me kept thinking “What is wrong with these people? What is so wrong with my question?!”

I will admit I couldn’t even fall asleep one night last week because my mind was buzzing with the negative comments and thoughts I received. I know I’m probably being overly sensitive here, but I’m a 26-year-old girl who has been working my butt off over the past 23 weeks to get to the starting line of a big race. I am a young triathlete who hasn’t been in the sport that long and I reached out seeking advice and insight from veteran athletes who know more than me — exactly what I was supposed to do. In return I was talked down to, called weak, sent pictures of water snakes, was called a newbie and told I needed to swim more and asked if I was going to drop out several times. Finally after a few days went by and I was feeling smaller and smaller, I went through and deleted the really negative comments. I’m not afraid of a little tough love when it’s needed, but this got out of control and it turned into a bashing fest. There were two nice and helpful comments though. These people told me what typically happens and gave me a few things to be concerned about – i.e. overheating, my body temperature skyrocketing, etc. Stuff that was actually helpful and it was the advice I was looking for. But for every nice and supportive comment came another idiot asking me if I was going to drop out and hinting that I must not be prepared enough. It was really disheartening.how-you-act

I couldn’t believe that a sport and a group that is supposed to be positive and is supposed to be about conquering your fears and pushing yourself was doing just the opposite…shooting me down, instilling me with doubt and trying to scare me. (I still can’t even believe people were posting pictures of water snakes in the comments. Honestly — what on earth is wrong with those people?!)

I’ve been racing for three years now. I’ve done over a handful of sprint and Olympic distance races, but I have never completed a 70.3 race before. This is my longest distance to date. I’ve also never been to a race where a wet suit has been “illegal” either. I know nothing about how it works. I even mentioned it in my post last week that I was debating and thinking about what I’d do. I reached out seeking advice and guidance and just the opposite happened.

I’ve been looking back at my training log these past few months and have been telling myself that I am well-trained. And before last week and all those rude comments I really felt like it. I have worked really, really hard and have gotten out of my comfort zone. I’ve gone to group training, clinics and workshops. I’ve done everything right. I can’t and I won’t let rude people’s comments make me question my hard work. I’m mad at myself for spending 4 straight days questioning myself and my abilities. Even my husband got a little heated with me for being so down on myself “Why are you listening to internet trolls!? Why are you letting them win!?” He asked me one morning before I set out for a run and I was telling him how down on myself I had been feeling. “They say stuff like that because they want to look like bad ass’s, but really they are just insecure and feel better about themselves by putting people down. You know better than to listen to them.”

rudenessAnd I do. I do know better than to listen to them. I am just starting to feel better today about everything, although I received another notification last night for another comment basically saying that I should have swam more and hinting at the fact that I wasn’t ready if I’m concerned about not using a wet suit. Last time I checked most people liked using their wet suit and last time I checked it wasn’t public ridicule to ask what happens when something happens in a race. It’s called mentally preparing myself and expecting the unexpected. Shame on those people. This is such a stupid issue to even be concerned about and I wish I didn’t let it get to me. Life is bigger than asking a question about a stupid wet suit and being called weak. Again shame on those people and a little shame on me for letting it get to me.

To all those people hiding behind a keyboard and judging me and making me feel so small — I will prove you wrong and I will make sure I never make anyone else feel like that in this sport. Triathlon is a sport that teaches us to push ourselves, conquer our fears and get out of our comfort zone. I have done all of these things over the last 3 years and especially over the last 23 weeks. I’ll be damned if I let rude comments make me question my journey and get in my head. I know I let this get to my more than I should have, but I also know those people were out of line too. I never want to make someone else feel how I felt reading those comments. I’m not a triathlon rookie and I’ll probably never consider myself a triathlon veteran either, but I will never make someone feel so stupid and small when talking about the sport. I will raise everyone up and encourage the journey. I will be supportive when people don’t know what to expect and are reaching out for help. I will not let this stop me. It may have slowed me down this past week, but I refuse to let the negativity win. Negativity is like a poison. It effected how I felt about everything last week and I’m putting an end to it this week. I will get out there at my race and crush it — with or without a wet suit.

prove-them-wrongI have two more weeks of training and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I’m not going to dwell on negativity and question myself any longer. Despite the hurdle last week I manager 88 miles. It was a great week and included a 15-mile run and I felt strong during and afterwards. I am completely ready and I cannot wait for the big race.

T-minus 13 days!

week-22tough-cookie

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7 thoughts on “Training Week 22 & The Mental Hurdle

  1. There are fun FB groups, and there are awful ones. Ignore the haters. If that group is bringing you down, leave it. There are hundreds of them and some are great.

    When wetsuits are optional, most people ditch them. If you are a weaker swimmer and need the buoyancy then wear it. If you get cold easily, then wear it. But the number who do will be minimal. Most will want to start with their age group. If you aren’t looking to podium, then it doesn’t matter in the end…you still are an official finisher with a finish time (the asterix next to your name), medal, shirt, and hat. The wetsuit lets people swim a little faster, so the feeling is that everyone should be on the same playing field. Overheating can be an issue if the water is warm as well.

    You should try to train for as many environmental conditions as possible (you should go out for a run on a hot/humid day, and go for a cold drizzly ride). And you should get some OWS training with and without a wetsuit so you are ready either way (nothing new on race day).

    One thing I learned from non-wetsuit races is that some kits are not a skin tight at the neck and it catches a lot of water really slowing you down. You should make sure your kit fits well and does not drag you down. I hear that swim skins can be helpful for this…but I have never tried one.

    Good luck in your race. Believe in yourself and your training. It is usual for your brain to start telling you that you aren’t ready when you are tapering. It is wrong. So are the FB fools. One is harder to ignore. The other can be eliminated with a couple of clicks…

  2. Thank you SO much for the comment. This is the type of advice I was looking for. Swimming is def my weakest leg, but I also started swimming without a wet suit so I know I can do it without it if I just remember to be calm and in control. The water temp is 80 right now, so I am worried about the threat of overheating too. I’ve read that tri kit drag can be a real issue so I plan on getting out to an OWS this week in just my kit to make sure that if I choose to wear just that I will be OK.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment and give me some insight. I’ve never been in a race where wet suits are banned. From someone who has trained my butt off, but is also still nervous for the race — I really appreciate the kind words and great advice from a veteran athlete.

  3. I’m literally sick at thinking about how evil those people were to you. Crazy. Move along and keep your head high. You got this!

  4. You’ll be fine. If you have done an Olympic, the 70.3 course is barely any different in length, you won’t even notice. I personally hate full wetsuit swims and try to avoid them. I also avoid Great Lakes or Ocean (just too rough). Triathlon venues are so different that it is wise to pick races based on strengths and weaknesses. BTW, I would hardly call myself a veteran (I still haven’t figured out aerobars and clueless about power meters). Just a hobby I do for fun and try to motivate me to maintain some degree of fitness. I mostly stick to sprint nowadays, but some friends that are new to the sport are thinking about a half next season. Ohio would be a convenient local for us all, and I foolishly agreed to join them if they sign up. So, I am eagerly awaiting race reports from this inaugural event. Have a great race…

  5. Not sure if you have ever read this, but makes its way around the FB IM pages about 3 weeks pre Ironman. If you have read it before, now is the time to re-read it. If it is new, then it may help with the nerves. It is written specifically for full distance, but it mostly applies to 70.3’s (except for the soup). Have a great race!

    So without further adieu, to those of you heading to Ironman – to the
    IM-Virgins, the veterans, and everyone in-between…

    Right now you’ve all entered the taper. Perhaps you’ve been at this a few
    months, perhaps you’ve been at this a few years. For some of you this is
    your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few
    can match.

    You’ve been following your schedule to the letter. You’ve been piling on
    the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will
    take until November to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which
    both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery
    naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

    You ran in the snow.
    You rode in the rain.
    You ran in the heat.
    You ran in the cold.

    You went out when others stayed home.

    You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.
    You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and
    now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France
    coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you’ve
    already covered so much ground…there’s just one more climb to go. You
    shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lays before
    you…and it will be a fast one.

    Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with
    silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is
    something your body desperately needs, Your mind, cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

    It won’t be pretty.

    It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss.
    It will give you reasons why you aren’t ready. It will try and make one
    last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn’t know what the body
    already does. Your body knows the truth:

    You are ready.

    Your brain won’t believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that
    this is foolish – that there is too much that can go wrong.

    You are ready.

    Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It’s the result of dedication,
    focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides
    in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, “How will I ever be ready?” to the last long run where you smiled toyourself with one mile to go…knowing that you’d found the answer.

    It is worth it. Now that you’re at the taper, you know it will be worth it.
    The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just
    need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.

    You are ready.

    You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes.

    You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong.

    You’ll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like
    everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is
    finally here.

    You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does.

    The helicopters will roar overhead.

    The splashing will surround you.

    You’ll stop thinking about Ironman, because you’re now racing one.

    The swim will be long – it’s long for everyone, but you’ll make it.
    You’ll watch as the shoreline grows and grows, and soon you’ll hear the end.
    You’ll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers.
    Three people will get that sucker off before you know what’s happening, then
    you’ll head for the bike. The voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero’s sendoff. You won’t wipe the smile off your face for.
    You’ll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road.
    You’ll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling
    your Ironman.

    You’ll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It’s warmer
    now. Maybe it’s hot. Maybe you’re not feeling so good now.
    You’ll keep riding. You’ll keep drinking. You’ll keep moving. After all,
    this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right?
    You’ll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride for
    what seems like hours. You reach special needs, fuel up, and head out.
    By now it’ll be hot. You’ll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus.
    Everyone struggles here. You’ve been on that bike for a few hours, and
    stopping would be nice, but you won’t – not here. Not today.

    You’ll grind the false flats to the climb. You’ll know you’re almost there.
    You’ll fight for every inch of road. The crowd will come back to you here
    Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer
    for you – your body will get just that little bit lighter.

    Grind.
    Fight.
    Suffer.
    Persevere.

    You’ll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining
    together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for
    the run to come – soon! You’ll roll back – you’ll see people running out.
    You’ll think to yourself, “Wasn’t I just here?” The noise will grow. The
    chalk dust will hang in the air – you’re back, with only 26.2 miles to go. You’ll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2. You’ll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike. You’ll give it up and not look back. You’ll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you’ll go. You’ll change. You’ll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer – the one that counts.

    You’ll take that first step of a thousand…and you’ll smile. You’ll know
    that the bike won’t let you down now – the race is down to your own two
    feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning
    will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a summer Sunday.
    High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you’ve
    worked for all year long.

    That first mile will feel great. So will the second.

    By mile 3, you probably won’t feel so good.

    That’s okay. You knew it couldn’t all be that easy. You’ll settle down
    just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You’ll see the
    leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great – some won’t. You
    might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don’t panic – this
    is the part of the day where whatever you’re feeling, you can be sure it
    won’t last.

    You’ll keep moving. You’ll keep drinking. You’ll keep eating. Maybe
    you’ll be right on plan – maybe you won’t. If you’re ahead of schedule,
    don’t worry – believe. If you’re behind, don’t panic – roll with it.
    Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone
    has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is
    like trying to land a man on the moon.

    By remote control.

    Blindfolded.

    How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don’t
    waste energy worrying about things – just do what you have to when you have
    to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don’t sit down –
    don’t EVER sit down.

    You’ll make it to halfway point. You’ll load up on special needs. Some of
    what you packed will look good, some won’t. Eat what looks good, toss the
    rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people
    you don’t. You’re headed in – they’re not. They want to be where you are,
    just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into
    town. Share some energy – you’ll get it right back.

    Run if you can.

    Walk if you have to.

    Just keep moving.

    The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You’ll be coming
    up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup.
    TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving.

    You’ll soon only have a few miles to go. You’ll start to believe that
    you’re going to make it. You’ll start to imagine how good it’s going to
    feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs
    just don’t want to move anymore, think about what it’s going to be like when
    someone catches you…puts a medal over your head…
    ….all you have to do is get there.

    You’ll start to hear town. People you can’t see in the twilight will cheer
    for you. They’ll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were
    there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, when you left on
    the run, and now when you’ve come back.

    You’ll enter town. You’ll start to realize that the day is almost over.
    You’ll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if
    you’re lucky), but you’ll ask yourself, “Where did the whole day go?”
    You’ll be standing on the edge of two feelings – the desire to finally stop,
    and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as
    possible.

    You’ll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles – just 2KM left in it.
    You’ll run. You’ll find your legs. You’ll fly. You won’t know how, but
    you will run. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon
    you’ll be able to hear the music again. This time, it’ll be for keeps.
    Soon they’ll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You’ll run towards the
    lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you.

    They’ll say your name.

    You’ll keep running.

    Nothing will hurt.

    The moment will be yours – for one moment, the entire world will be looking
    at you and only you.

    You’ll break the tape. The flash will go off.

    You’ll stop. You’ll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and suddenly…be capable of nothing more.

    Someone will catch you.

    You’ll lean into them.

    It will suddenly hit you.

    You will be an Ironman.

    You are ready.

    Author Unknown.

  6. I got goosebumps while reading this!! Wow!! Thank you for sharing!! This is basically everything I have been thinking in my head and feeling in my heart written out. I will be posting this later as a reminder 🙂

  7. Thank you Christy!! I know. I have pushed it to the back of my mind because people are crazy like you said. I may have taken a few steps back last week, but I am back with a new-found determination this week!

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