After nearly 10 months of concentrated swim-bike-run training, my 2017 multisport season has officially ended.
How I feel about the 2017 season. Thanks for the photo, Dad!
This was the second year my coach and I worked together, and I’m incredibly happy with the progress we made across the disciplines. We stepped back from targeting a specific, performance-based race—Age Group Nationals was no longer the “A” event—and instead focused on expanding my endurance portfolio: doing swim meets, guiding for Achilles, and tackling two swim-run races. By de-emphasizing the outcome and focusing on the process, I rediscovered my passion for the multisport lifestyle.
This season, I noticed a huge shift in how I approach training and racing. Rather than obsessing over the result—splits, wattages, and paces—I zeroed in on the execution of the immediate workout. A 4×100 IM (woof!) become a 100 IM, then another 100 IM, and another, etc. In the short-term, each interval provided an opportunity to get the best out of myself; and it was identifying, working toward, and ultimately accomplishing these mini-goals–no matter how small–that set the stage for long-term progress. My goal this year was to execute each workout, interval, and stroke as precisely as possible. Doing the little things right would help the big things happen.
Eldorado Canyon in Colorado (Also, Colorado = THE BEST)
One concept my coach introduced this year was structured, one-sport training blocks. As an event approached—like a swim meet or a marathon—we increased the frequency and duration of the appropriate workouts. I loved this opportunity to throw myself into one activity and dial in on making progress for a few weeks. This method worked well for the swim; throughout the past year, the sport has transformed from a workout I “had” to do into a session I truly “want” to do. I also discovered that signing up for certain events—like the New England Short-Course Yards Championships and the Coney Island Aquathlon—increased my devotion to the process. Now, I truly find joy in the water—and I firmly believe it’s the closest I’ll ever get to flying! This past year, I’ve also become closer with my swimming buds, and that’s another reason I’m excited to go to practice; not only do I have some super fast people to chase, but I also like hanging out with them outside of the water.
A photo from the race that did not make the blog–but I beat a local pro out of the water! (Full disclosure: she smoked me on the bike and obviously won the race.)
Overall, my race calendar looked much different than previous seasons. I hopped in a few swim meets and did some road races, but the biggest change was the lack of triathlons: I raced Rev3 Quassy in June and my hometown race in August (which I never blogged about so who knows if it actually happened, ha). This was all part of the plan, though. Targeting swim meets and SwimRunVA—as opposed to swim-bike-run events—posed an opportunity to work on my not-as-strong triathlon disciplines so I did a lot of swimming and running this season. A lot of the miles came from guiding an Achilles athlete—we trained for and completed two marathons, and we also did a five miler—and this fresh outlook was exactly what I needed after five years of doing tris. It was beneficial to take a step back from short-term performance and lay the foundation for long-term goals. Hopefully, this past season has set the stage for not only next year, but also a lifetime of sport.
So what’s the plan for 2018? The first part of the season will mirror 2017: I’ll head back to Geneva, NY for another Seneca7 (yaaas!), and a few weeks later, I’ll travel to Boston with my Bearcat masters buds for the annual New England Short-Course Yards Championships. I’ll probably tackle a few running events too, and Team #TwoStevens has already signed up for another round of SwimRunVA.
I’m really excited to make the jump to the 70.3 distance. Ever since I volunteered at Ironman 70.3 Syracuse in 2012, I knew I’d do the race one day, but I did not want to rush the process. The distances have slowly become demystified over the years (1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking, and 13.1 miles of running), but even on your best day, it’s still going to be a tough race. And previously, that’s what worried me: how would I react when faced with adversity?
Searching for my running legs in the Bronx. They were not there.
Over the years, I’ve become mentally tougher and developed my race acumen so I feel more confident assessing the situation, making adjustments, and executing in the wake of hardships. During the past two seasons, especially, I noticed this change in my mental resolve: when my wheels stayed on at Nationals in Omaha two years ago despite the heat and humidity; when I dropped my chain at Rev3 Quassy in June, but remained calm and collected; and, of course, when I guided an Achilles athlete through two marathons. I built on my mental fortitude this past year by tackling longer events (like SwimRunVA), and I also survived several “character building” workouts and races. (Looking at you, Bronx 10 Miler.) Every 70.3 is a challenge, and I’m excited to devote myself to the training—and keep improving my mental game—and make some magic out there.
What are your goals for the upcoming year?