Can I still compete, or is it time to hang up the gloves?

So now that I am off my Olympic high, it’s back to reality. Except, this time reality has changed. I’ve heard so many quotes over the years that basically say if you aren’t happy with where you are in life, change it. Now this may be easier said then done, but I am working on it.

I may not be able to change my family, my 9-5, or my location (at least in the immediate term), but I can make small changes that will hopefully translate into bigger changes down the road. In the near term, I hope I am at least able to change my perspective, which should keep me much more sane.

For starters, I haven’t been happy racing this year. I have made HUGE improvements on the bike, both in the woods and on the road, yet I was not able to put it together for racing. I think there were a variety of factors that played into this, but ultimately I found racing had become not fun and I didn’t enjoy myself. In fact, just the opposite happened. After each race I would question myself, and I began to doubt my abilities.

So I decided it was time to participate in a different kind of “race” to see if I still had the competitive drive and desire to even want to continue racing vs just participating in sports. After hearing a friend had registered for a 1.2 mile swim, I signed up for the 2.4 mile option. It was just 3 weeks away and I knew I hadn’t actually “swam” in a year, but I was excited to see if I could still compete.

Fast forward 3 weeks and all I had managed to get in were two easy swims at a local pond (one was probably just under a mile and the other about a 1/2 mile), so I was definitely nervous for how I would be able to perform. I knew I could finish (barring any crazy or something from the lack of training), but I really had no idea how well I would be able to “compete.” I did a quick calculation and roughly doubled my old mile time (one of my stronger events in a past life) and used that to estimate what I theoretically should be able to do for a 2.4 mile race nowadays. I came up with 1:20, but after not getting any training in during the three weeks, I decided my goal was under 1:30. I figured I would be OK if I finished under 1:45 and I would cry if didn’t break 2 hours.

Morning of the race, weather was pretty crappy and I was told to be there at 6:30 (race started at 8), so I had to leave my house 5:30/5:45 to make it there. Good news is because of the weather and the fact that all of us were there ahead of time, they let us start early (roughly 7:15). My game plan was to go out hard for the first .3mile, then settle into my rhythm, breaststroke around the buoy at the turnaround, begin soft kick and gradually increase my speed at the 1.2 mile turnaround (1.8 miles in) and then kick hard and sprint in the last .3mile or however long I thought I could sustain it.

I took an early lead after the whistle went off, a male ironman competitor pulled ahead around the .3mile mark as I eased up, and I battled with another male who had trouble swimming in a straight line as we made our way to the turnaround. As I was nearing the 1.2 mile mark, I saw the first glimpse of another female, she and the male I had battled with had just made the turn and were on their way back. I knew I was only about 1 minute behind and traditionally a back half swimmer, so I wasn’t concerned. Problem was once I made the turn there was absolutely nothing to site off of. Because it was raining the sky was gray (same color as the water) and I had never been to this lake before, so I had no reference points, houses along the side, or anything except the buoy at the 1.2 mile turnaround. I began to panic a little as I continued on and realized there were coves and inlets that I could easily lead myself into without being careful.

I ended up swimming much slower than I would have liked, since I had to keep doing some breaststroke pulls to adjust my eyes and get my bearing and even had the kayak have to tell me near the finish that I wasn’t heading towards the right beach! Even right at the end, I started swimming towards the shore before an individual that was already finished yelled no over here, and I realized the finish was between to floating rings in the water. Needless to say my back and forth cost me some time (and added distance), but I still came in second for women and beat 2 of the men by about 35 mins. Even better my time was 1:20, talk about a good guess on my part!

I was definitely happy about what I had done, and I enjoyed the thrill of competition again. I was reminded that competing SHOULD be fun, and it doesn’t take hours of training and hard work to feel successful. Sunday I took a different avenue and competed in my first ever 3D shoot, which I will cover in a later post, but all I could think of all weekend long was how did my friends who were biking up Mt Washington or racing in the NH100 do? I was ecstatic to learn that overall everyone did very well. There were a lot of personal bests, accomplished goals and true joy in hard work that had paid off. And even though I wasn’t there for either event and didn’t contribute at all to their success, I couldn’t have been happier!

Conclusion: I do still enjoy competing, however I’ve discovered I’m much more passionate about helping others reach their goals, and I love seeing others succeed!

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About Crystal

I'm a professional archer who also enjoys participating in mountain biking, cyclocross, swimming and running races. I race more for the fun and excitement than for top places and awards (or at least I try!), and my true passion is coaching others. I have a weakness for ice cream and a good espresso. I love being outdoors, and my dream is to one day own 100 acres.

Posted on August 20, 2012, in Other, Racing, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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