My 2011 season is complete. After dealing with a pretty significant calf pull suffered during the run of the Westchester Triathlon and, consequently, having to withdrawal from the start list of the Pocono 70.3 and Rev 3 South Carolina, my focus races for the end of the season, I ended up deciding to call it a year and not chase a late season race. I had the desire to race more, but couldn't really find another race option to warrant traveling to. I tossed around the idea of a November Ironman for a while, but that would make 3 Ironmans in a 5-month span and having only raced one Ironman prior to 2011 I thought it might be just a bit much. Mainly though I just wasn't fully committed to racing another Ironman this year and probably the biggest lesson I've learned in my short stint of Ironman racing is the importance of being completely committed to the task at hand heading in. I am heading into the offseason hungry and excited for next year, something I haven't felt heading into the winter months in a few years.
My 2011 season didn't start or end well, but all in all I feel pretty good about what I was able to accomplish this season. I started this race season embarrassingly out of shape and it took a lot of mental strength to stick to the training plan through those initial race results. But I stuck to the plan and by the time July came around I was rolling and gaining momentum with every race. Looking back and comparing my May-June race results with my July-September results it's hard to believe that these results all came in the same season. Highlights for the year were my three separate 5th place finishes at the Muncie 70.3, Ironman Lake Placid, and Rev 3 Cedar Point. Cedar Point was without question the best shape I was in all season and my best performance of the year, unfortunately riding 6 miles off course on the bike cost me what most likely would have been a finish time in the 8:30s and a potential podium finish (and not to mention the money).
Looking ahead to next year I think my first priority has to not be so much getting faster, but being fit for a much longer stretch. My main goal in this sport right now is simply to make a comfortable living. Getting faster will only help my cause but mostly I need to be in shape for longer than just 3 months. If I can replicate the same fitness I had in the late season this year and maintain that fitness for 6-7 months instead of 3 then I'm in for a really great year. I don't have to be faster, just race fit for longer.
All in all I feel really good about where I'm at in life right now. A year ago I was coming off of my second consecutive rough year of under performing, my team had just announced it would no longer exist at the end of the year (all my sponsors gone), my job as triathlete was feeling more and more like a burden, I wasn't having fun, the 9-5 and steady paycheck was looking very appealing, and I had begun applying to some real world jobs (gasp) with the intention that I would take a year sabbatical at the very least or quit the sport entirely if I landed a job I wanted. It was during that stretch last winter that I quit exercising for several months, got way out of shape and I think it was the best thing for me. Absence makes the heart grow fonder as they say, my mind rebooted during the down time, I got excited about training, racing, and triathlon again, signed on with a new team, and approached the season with a brand new, healthier mindset. I learned to embrace the setbacks and disappointments along the way as simply an unavoidable and sometimes necessary part of the process towards being great. All the time off certainly put me way behind the game at the start of the season, but I think I was also better towards the end, and will be a better athlete and person in the future, because of it. Today I'm really enjoying my career as pro triathlete and coach.
I look forward to getting just mildly out of shape this offseason and coming in hot to 2012!