"On a long journey of human life, faith is the best of companions; it is the best refreshment on the journey; and it is the greatest property."
Faith. Belief. You have to believe in something. Through this training journey that started back in 2004 with my first triathlon I have found that believing in myself and having faith in what I was doing is paramount in becoming the best athlete I can be. Of course, this also played a role in my journey as a competitive swimmer so it probably started a lot earlier than 2004. However, 2004 was the rebirth of me as an athlete so I will use that as the starting point in terms of this discussion.
It is easy to get sidetracked by what other people are doing, what you read about in a magazine, what someone "tweets" they did that day for training but ultimately, you have to believe what you are doing is right for you and will make you better. I have been out in California for about 6 weeks now and I can feel myself becoming stronger but I am also finding that I need to go slow and hold myself back a bit because of the new terrain I am encountering on a daily basis. The hills make steady bike ride just a little bit harder and more intense. It is the same with running; I do not do a run now where I don't come across some sort of incline or long hill. I am excited about this and I welcome the challenge but I also have to be aware of how this changes my training on a daily basis. The only thing that has remained the same is swimming since 25 yard pools do not vary too much from the midwest to the west coast.
Yesterday I had a hilly base ride where I was supposed to work the climbs---and there were quite a few long, hard climbs. I went out with my new training partner John who is a solid biker (and swimmer and runner). Hillary has her GCM (german cycling machine) so I will call John my NCM (napa cycling machine). I always let him know what my day entails before we go out because I do not want to be holding him back. However, most of the times he is happy to join me for a ride. Truth be told, he is a bit quick for me right now. I have faith that I will close the gap. It might not happen next week or next month but everytime I cycle with the NCM I know that I am getting stronger. We remained relaxed on the flatter parts of the ride and then he really challenged me going up the inclines. It hurt but it was a great ride.
Today was a solid run on tired legs along with a swim and then a "flatter" long ride tomorrow. I am going to keep that one on the valley floor and ride up to Calistoga and back. There are a few rollers but nothing major so it should be perfect. I can feel my midwest definition of hilly morphing into the west coast definition of hilly. I love it!
At the end of the day, I have faith this hard work will make me better. It might not happen overnight but I will become better (especially on the bike). One of my favorite races--Escape from Alcatraz--is just over 2 weeks away and I am ready to tackle the challenging course and see what I can do on that day. It should be great fun to jump off the boat, swim in the chilly water, ride up and down the hills and run up the stairs, onto the beach and up the sand ladder.