Maggie Rusch

Professional Triathlete

Closing out 2011: Life Happens.

I don’t think Nation’s was supposed to be my best (or last) race of the season. But when my product launched in July, and I was expected to hold down the fort for our company’s brand new multi-million dollar, 400+ user system, I couldn’t say no. With a mind-boggling work schedule and altered workout after altered workout, I came to a realization that this season was 100% a learning experience.

Learning more about personal priorities: current re-evaluation has triathlon just behind family, friends and personal sanity. This past summer it was more like work, work, work, a little bit of tri and not a whole lot of sleep. While my chronic workaholicism of the past summer ended up leading to a nice little promotion and salary bump, it’s certainly not a path I would like to continue down for much too longer.

Life’s too short for late nights at the office without overtime and then “running” the two-miles home at midnight in J.Crew ballet flats, partly because you have to get some sort of workout in and partly because you’re paranoid about getting mugged. Or stopping in the middle of a Sunday-morning training ride because you heard your email bing and heaven forbid you keep your boss waiting.

But mostly, this season has been about discovering my physical and psychological limits—especially come race day. There’s race pace… and then there’s race pace. I discovered real race pace—okay, maybe not my own, but that of some women I aspire to be like—at Age Group Nationals, when the 30-34 women blasted by me on those Vermonster hills. The whirr of their rear discs as they blew past me was intimidating—but also inspiring. "I want to do that," I yelled at myself the inside as they passed. "I should be doing that!" After the finish, somewhat disappointed with my performance (and stuck on the 10-hour drive back from Vermont), I questioned why I wasn't yelling at myself during the race: "You can do that!"

A few weeks later, I would bring my own race pace to the table, dishing out a 22.9 mph pace at Nation's Tri. Yes, as someone in the very last wave, I have to admit that I basically rode up the pace line, yelling “on your left” to part through the packed crowds on the Clara Barton Parkway. But, in reality, my performance was partly aided by the draft, partly aided by my go-get-'em mentality. To be honest, my barks were less about warning bikers ahead than giving them a warning that I meant business. And I did, proving that sometimes it just takes a little bit of confidence and mental grit to pull a stellar performance out of spotty training.

Finally, I'm learning that while I might not be quite ready for the big leagues—I'm daring enough to take them on. A few weeks ago, I signed up for Eagleman 70.3, next June 10th. As for now, I'm currently on a break with my coach, with Training Peaks and supposedly without any sort of training plan. But of course the moment my season “officially” ended, all I could think about was my next race. I toyed around with jumping in a random October Olympic race, or maybe even testing the waters with a “trial” half-Ironman. But the small (very small!) wise part of my brain related to triathloning yelled at me to pump the brakes and instead save that enthusiasm for a big winter of base training and the season ahead. I start back with my coach in November, and have decided that this is the year where I stop futzing around, stop being a slave to my job and get to work on what I love. I’m moving up ranks to the big girl leagues, 25-29 and I’m ready to shake things up.

 

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