The 2014 season was hands down the best season of my professional long distance triathlon career. A few highlight include getting 1st place at Ironman Western Australia, and going sub nine hours for the first time. The second was coming in second place at the Ironman Frankfurt European Championships, in a new PR time of 8:56:48. Lastly and in my opinion my biggest performance of my 2.5 year career, was finishing in 7th place at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, and taking honors as the top American female at this event.
I am often asked what changed between the 2013 to 2014 season that gave me the ability to race with the best Ironman athletes in the world. Looking back on 2014, I think the number one change was my mental attitude.
For example, every single time I toed the line at the start of the swim, I gave myself a quick pep talk, and told myself I can fight my way into the pack of women I know I can swim with, but it doesn't come easy nor without a fight. Amongst the turmoil of kicking legs and slashing arms, I tried to be mentally stronger, not willing to give in to the competition.
"A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning." - Billie Jean King
It is easy to place doubt in yourself, maybe to give your mind an easy out as to why you didn't perform to your capabilities.
Most of my lessons of eradicating self doubt came on the bike this year. With the growth of social media, it feels as though we are always inundated with what others did, how fast they rode, how many watts they pushed. I have been more successful this past year by focusing and keeping in mind the tough training rides that prepared me to push myself harder on race day. Kicking off my Ironman career with a Ironman win on my pro rookie debut, where I ran a sub three hour marathon, I think adversely affected how hard I pushed myself on the bike in order to 'save' my legs for the run. I know the only way to get to the top is to be great at all three events, so I decided to trust in my training and coach, and go that little bit extra on the bike, giving myself the chance to be in contention with a strong run.
"The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one else is watching." - Anson Dorrance
The third leg of an Ironman is arguably the toughest, a 26.2 mile run. The third key learning in 2014 that led me to several successful marathons during the 2014 season was to plan ahead in regards to nutrition. It's no secret that when you sign up to race an Ironman, it involves running a marathon before you can cross the finish line. I'll admit, in the early stages right after turning pro, I pretty much just winged it! After completing my first full year as a professional triathlete, learning through trial and error, I finally have a solid nutrition plan that works for ME!
"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." - John Wooden
While I am incredibly satisfied with my 2014 season, I am even hungrier for victory this year. With the new year comes new goals (not resolutions) which involve making more sacrifices than in the past. I want to see how close I can come to reaching my full potential, proving to myself that I belong in a sustained position at the top of the ranks. Cheers to a new year and a new journey!
"Success comes from knowing that you did your best too become the best that you are capable of becoming." - John Wooden