Yesterday on the MSM FB page, an athlete made the comment that Liz is as much a life coach as she is a tri coach. If you aren't part of the group, I highly recommend that you join. You don't have to be coached by the MSM coaches to join. You don't have to see yourself as an athlete. Her scope goes beyond swim, bike, run.
I'm mentioning that because it is so true on every level. The greatest gains I have made are on the mental side. Liz has given me that edge.
She has taken me from an athlete who didn't know what would happen on race day to someone who owns the day.
One of the most helpful things we have done, she calls, "resetting". Without giving away her trade secrets, the general idea is if you are riding at 90% FTP, she'll interject intervals of +110FTP. If you are running 400m intervals, she'll interject 100 or 200m intervals. (Those are my own made up examples. They aren't short pops. They are true intervals).
The point of doing this is to reset your mind as to what you think is hard. We do this regularly; 90% FTP might feel hard, until you do 110%. When you go back to 90%, it's not so bad.
Over the last few weeks, we have been doing this with incline repeats. She's been having me run threshold pace on increasing inclines. The workouts have been incredibly tough and mentally trying.
Fast forward to yesterday, I had my first standalone 10k in years. My PR at the 10k was 1:01:25. It's been a longstanding PR.
Before my race, Liz dropped me a note saying, "I'd like to talk about this race". That got my attention because I'm thinking "this is just a run. Why do we need to talk"?
The fact is, when we set my goals for the year, one of them was learn how to run a 10K. I have a history of running a 5k and fading fast.
We talked and came up with a plan. This time, it was more of Liz telling me what she wanted me to do. That helped me immensely because I trust her. I know she's going to give me the best plan of action.
My plan was simple: 2.5 miles easy, 3 strong, .7 all out.
All week, I was trying to figure out what 2.5 easy would be. Should I look up my last PR? NO. You're not that person anymore.
I had a stroke of brilliance. My incline repeats have been at 6% at a 9:47 pace. My goal will be to start at 9:47 pace. If I'm running 9:47 at 6%, I should be able to do that at a race for the entire time.
Keep in mind, I have no idea what finish time that will give me. I thought, my effort will go up throughout the race. Holding that pace will be hard enough.
I'm no dummy. I know that last mile was going to be unpleasant.
My goals for the race:
1.) Finish before the awards ceremony start. Granted this is out of my control. Still, it would be fun to accomplish it.
2.) Follow the plan, so I don't get in trouble.
For the first 2.5 miles, I stuck with my plan. I was right around the 9.47 mark. I surge on the hills and took advantage of the downhills. There's one hill on this course. I kept saying, "There's no way this hill is 6%. RUN IT HARD".
And, I did.
When I passed the 3.1 marker, I did a system check and thought, "I feel pretty good. I'm going to be able to pick up the pace". I couldn't believe I was feeling as good as I was. I had no idea what the time was when I passed the 3.1 marker.
Again, I know it's not going to feel super great for long.
At this point, I realized that I could pick up the pace. I set a goal of getting faster for each mile with .7 going all out.
I was going to hit the hill again at mile 5. The second time around, I ran it harder than the first.
I ran the downhill as hard as I could.
With the last .7, I start chugging. I looked ahead and wondered if I could catch a guy in a blue shirt. It took me about .25 miles to pass him. Then, I saw another guy. I wondered if I could catch him. I caught him at about 5.75 miles.
I had one more person to catch. A woman was a bit ahead of me. With about .2 miles to go, I was going as hard as (I think) I could. I have no idea if I ever caught her. I had no idea what my finish time was. I was focused on my task RUN HARD.
I crossed the finish line and had to hold onto the fence. I was dizzy. I couldn't stand up.
Then, I heard, "We're getting ready to start the awards ceremony". I looked at my Garmin so fast. If they started on time, that meant I ran sub 1 hour for the first time ever.
My finish time was 59:19 with an average pace of 9:33 beating my goal of 9:47. That means I ran faster today than I did at my 5 mile race a few weeks back.
I wasn't trying to get a PR. I just plain did it. I followed the plan, and the result was just over a 2 minute PR, or +:20 per mile.
I had a super secret goal of hitting 9:30 pace. I barely missed it.
All I wanted was to hold a 9:47 pace, and here I averaged 9:33.
I was so excited to see a longstanding PR finally happen that I was was overcome with emotion. All winter long, I've been telling Liz that my fitness gains are hiding under layers of winter clothes, fighting winds and doing balancing acts on snow and ice.
I knew I was going to see it happen. It takes so much patience to put in the work every day and not know when you will have the opportunity to shine.
Yesterday was my day.
It was a huge step for me. On the drive home, I realized what it meant in terms of my big goals.
THAT little 10K meant that I'm on track.
I'm right there. I'm right on the edge of reaching my goals, and I'm still 6 months out from my biggest race.