I love to dream big. It is exciting when the hard work pays off and dreaming big can be life-changing. For the 7th time in my life, I get to dream big as I take my body on a 140.6 mile journey to cross the most talked about finishing lines on the Ironman race calendar.
For many, dreaming big means accepting disappointment. It may even mean facing failure. A goal typically has an end point but a dream doesn't always come with a specific time-line. And that can be frustrating.
But if dream smart, you will find yourself discovering amazing things about yourself. Perhaps things that you never thought were possible because you stopped expecting failure and disappointment and instead, welcomed change, hard work and commitment to reach goals that you never once thought were possible.
Like many athletes, the body doesn't always respond when you want it to. The mind is overloaded, the body feels tired and the goal that has driven you to wake up every morning wanting to work hard for your dreams, is now second-guessed based on life happenings.
Karel decided last minute (about a week ago), to race in the HOT - Hammerhead Olympic
. Karel was itching to race before Miami 70.3 at the end of October and with the race being local (about 45 minutes away at Camp Blanding), Karel was looking forward to changing up his weekend routine.
As for his race day goals, he told me early last week that he wanted to win it. Of course, not knowing the competition that would be at the race, I still supported his goal 100%. As a coach, I never stop my athletes from dreaming big and as you know from my previous blogs, I am very open with my goals and I am not afraid to work hard for them. I always say - dream big and work hard for what you want and then on race day, race with your current level of fitness with a race strategy that allows you to execute for a strong performance.
For Karel and myself, we don't chase PR's. Sure, they are great when they come but we don't worry about a time on paper but instead, what happens within the race. The harder the race and more challenging of conditions, bring it! We love training our bodies to prepare for race day and then being able to execute with our current level of fitness with a smart race day strategy.
As age group triathletes, we have a lot on our plates with life and training is our lifestyle. Like many age group athletes, Karel was feeling off the day before the race with a lot on his mind and a body that was not feeling race ready on Saturday.
Rather than scratching the race or forgetting about his race day goals, I did my best to continue to support Karel's goal of "go big or go home".
I'm a firm believer that you have no idea what you are capable of until you try. Don't ever give up before you give things a try.
I can't tell you how many times I have prepped myself for a workout and doubted myself until the workout happened. So much negativity in my mind that I didn't have "it" for the day but there's no way to know if "it" can happen unless I try. Thankfully, I never once let my fear of failure over-ride my ability to succeed with my Kona training and I felt in my heart that Karel was going to have a great race.
With a 4am wake-up call, we were out the door at 4:45am and Campy was sad he couldn't come to the pet-unfriendly Camp Blanding. But with a long early morning walk, I told Campy we wouldn't be gone long.
After picking up Karel's packet and doing the normal pre-race routine (set up transition, bathroom stops, putting on the wetsuit for the first-time wet-suit legal swim at this race, swim warm-up), Karel was standing knee high in the water waiting for the first wave of the race to start at 7:30am.
When it comes to working on athletic weaknesses, Karel knows that doing more doesn't make you a better, stronger or faster athlete. For Karel, he has been working with Coach Mel at UNF on his swimming and instead of swimming more, he is working really hard with his swim drills and form in the water. With less than 1500 yards for a main set each practice three days per week, Karel has found himself swimming faster thanks to working on the little things. A reminder for us all that to be better,you can not rush the journey.
I couldn't believe that the first swimmer in the 40 and under male age group exited the water in less than 20 minutes! With not a single other swimmer in sight, the first male was out on the bike before any other swimmer even exited the water. Karel finished the swim in 4th place, nearly 8 minutes behind the leader but I was confident that Karel swam strong so that he could also bike strong.
Karel didn't lose anytime wearing a wetsuit and made a quick transition before getting on his bike.
Although I know that Karel's legs can bike around 56-57 min for a 40K bike, today's conditions were on the windy side and this two loop course would present obstacles for the athletes who were not racing smart.
Karel didn't focus on his power on the bike but instead, he only focused on his cadence and went by RPE. He had one opportunity to see the other athletes on the course and by the time he was nearing the end of the first loop, Karel was within 4 minutes of the leader and sitting in 2nd place.
Guessing the time of the first place male in his wave, I tried to communicate with Karel the best I could to give him the heads up on his competition at the moment.
Karel was calm and in his zone and I could tell he was really enjoying is day.
I walked about 1/2 mile or so down the road to catch Karel and before I knew it, Karel was sitting just about a minute behind the leader as they entered transition.
I wasn't sure if Karel was first or second because I missed the first place male but Karel quickly told me that he was second....although less than 1 minute behind the leader as they started the run.
Karel made up mega time on the bike which is a good reminder that if you are an athlete in a race - never ever count yourself out. Even if you are not shooting for a podium spot, every athlete is going to have a low or an off moment in the race. Sometimes it happens at the beginning of a race, sometimes in the middle. But the great part about racing is knowing that if you keep going, a high will happen. You just have to keep moving forward to experience the highs for if you count yourself out at a low, you will find yourself stuck in a low place. Move forward and you never know what will happen.
I really had the best time at this race because not only did I receive a major boost of endorphins from watching Karel race but I also got to cheer for a bunch of local triathletes who are inspiring in their own special way. Mom's and dad's, kids, newbies and the experienced....I just love watching people put hard work to the test. I know there were a lot of dreamers out there and I was inspired by so many people and I can't wait to take that positive energy with me to Kona in 7 days.
Nearing 35 minutes, I guesstimated that Karel would be coming soon. Despite the wind on this semi-comfortable weather day (relative to Florida weather in the summer), this run course had it's challenges with a few hills. Turns out, Karel's Garmin 910XT got turned off in the swim so he was just running off RPE, not even knowing his time.
Getting close to 36 minutes for the run, I spotted the awesome-looking Trimarni Tri kit on Karel and with no other male in his race in sight, I knew this would be a first for Karel.....
I can't tell you how incredibly happy and proud I am for Karel. He said he felt great the entire race and never red-lined it.
Just learning how to swim last May (2012) and doing his first triathlon last summer, don't you love it when hard work pays off? No excuses but instead, enjoyment for what the body is capable of doing and not being afraid to test the limits. The desire was always there to be fast, strong and good at triathlons but Karel new it would take a lot of hard work to get to where he wanted to be. Still with dreams on the horizon (like racing in Kona together), I can't wait to share this journey of life together and enjoying it with so many amazing people who also love using their bodies and crossing finishing lines.
(Karel and our friend, 2nd place finisher Eric)
2:09:15 finishing time
1.5K Swim: 27:57 (12th place male)
T1: 53 seconds
40K Bike: 1:02:13 (23.9 mph average, 1st place male)
T2: 38 seconds
10K Run: 38:10 (6:09 min/mile average, 1st place male)