Saturday, July 28, 2012

Breaking down walls

When I started running again, it was because I'd seen a picture of my fire chief crossing the finish line at IM Canada.  I saw it and thought "I could do that."  So I started running again.  One race after another, and I rediscovered my love of running.  And competition.

I soon found that in local races, I'd do well.  Usually well enough to place, or at least close.  But distance running, my first love from middle school, was my favorite (although, somewhat slower now than I was then).  I'd do well enough to make a ten minute mile average pace over the run, and could hold that.  By the time I ran my first marathon in 2009, I only had one goal: to run faster than a ten minute pace.  I did it.

Last year I made the transition to triathlon, and made a few breakthroughs.  With the addition of swimming and running to my training, I found both my 5k and long distance pace getting faster, incrementally.  While experts and veterans may argue whether or not the addition of other sports or simply the extra miles made the difference, I still found myself doing better.

Then, a month ago, Jeff at Apex Endurance started coaching me.  I've been self trained for the majority of my experience - picking up bits here and there, and mostly looking up to a few people who are good at endurance sports, without ever really understanding how to get better.  Prior to any formal coaching, my training usually involved running/cycling/swimming at whatever pace I could handle, for however long my training plan called for.

Suddenly, over the past week, I've started to see improvement.  Higher power numbers during cycling, faster swimming for some of the same drills.  But the best moment came for me during a hour and forty five minute run two days ago when I broke the mental and physical barriers of the nine minute mile average pace during that hour and forty five minutes. And I hold no illusions that this is a fast pace in the running world. But there came a moment when I realized I could do it, and that I was breaking down any preconceived notions about how fast I can run.  What is important, though, is that in my love of running, I'm seeing improvement.

Kirsten, at Awesomeness of You, taught me last season to break down "realistic expectations" I hold for myself.  The result is that I enjoy my sport so much more.  Essentially, Kirsten has taught me not to have limits for myself. She taught me to not believe that I can't do something, that a certain athletic capability is out of my reach, or that something is unrealistic to expect.  She taught me how to teach myself and believe that I can.  Race jitters are pretty much a thing of the past, when they used to tear up my stomach before a race.  Kirsten taught me to look beyond what my mind and body were telling me to do and find out what I really can do.

Jeff is teaching me what I'm capable of.  Every day, I look at what he has scheduled for me to do and think  "He's crazy! I won't be able to finish that!  Okay, I'll do what I can, and finish as strong as I can, and go from there.  I'll have to email him and let him know that it was too much."  And yet, every day, I find that I can finish the workouts, and finish them strong.

So here's to the future.  I don't hold any expectations, and I haven't found my limits.


  1. That is really exciting, Rachel! Keep pushin'!

  2. So important. I find that by pushing myself either in a race or just a training session, I can ALWAYS do more than I think I can. Maybe I need to apply this to my pace as well, I would LOVE to be a 9 m/m!