I have a new goal of monthly blog posts… again. Let’s be honest: are we trying too hard to resuscitate a dying medium? Either way, I loved following all of my internet inspirations back when I was getting into the sport in 2012 and found it helpful to follow the ups and downs of the bloggers and athletes I followed. I looked forward to emptying my google reader each week, especially at the start of race season, hoping to learn a little something myself.
Honestly, if I had all the time in the world, I’d dedicate actual time to this, whether sharing my Sunday meal preps (my new savior the last few months) or detailed recaps of day-to-day training. I was a “journalist” in college, so you could say the urge to write and to document is still strong.
The reality is I’m working 40-50 hour weeks, scraping by with my weekly workouts (missing more than I would like to admit) and my house is a literal mess, aside from some aggressive Konmari’ing that happened in the first two weeks before I got sick. Social life? Non-existent. And oddly, I’m okay with that. So I’m sorry you’re stuck reading the less-than-helpful down down up down down up up down of the last 4 years ever since I took my elite card. I hope this is the year that pattern turns around.
This first month of 2019 has been about retreating a bit and focusing on myself. I had one week where I travelled to California for work Monday - Wednesday, flew home late that night and arrived at a client down in Denver the next morning, less than 6 hours between arriving and leaving. Naturally, as someone who lives in the kid-free Boulder bubble, I got deathly sick.
There are few worse ways to start your year than a 9 day stint spent mostly in bed or on the couch with the flu. So I became a hermit mid-January and just maintained the trend throughout the rest of the month as I recovered.
As a result, I got a little stir-crazy and found myself in a little bit of an internet tiff this week—though as an opinionated individual, that’s not an entirely new thing—but I found it annoying that athletes today are policing whether other athletes should be able to call themselves a “professional triathlete” based on their financial earnings in the sport.
I probably took this a little more personally than I should have but literally every new or aspiring professional triathlete that has ever reached out to me in the past four years (~7-8?) has mentioned that she was worried about not fitting in, or that she did not “belong” in the professional ranks (it’'s always a she, isn’t it?).
And yet at the same time we have seen more male triathletes taking their (rightfully earned) pro cards without hesitation and the occasional pro race where the women’s field is not as deep as expected. I think we’re seeing a full-blown case of professional female imposter syndrome and we need to do more to support women taking the leap.
(BTW, I think I may be the poster child for “amateur who turned pro but kept her day job and has maintained spotty and/or back-of-pack results since”… feel free to reach out to me if those are your lowly aspirations: I have plenty of feedback, both good and bad).
I myself have felt the very same, and struggle with the sense of belonging. The interesting thing about being a back-of-the-field female pro is that you don’t feel like you belong in the pro ranks, but also feel like you would not be welcomed if you dropped back down to race amateur: literally living in no-woman’s-land.
I haven’t yet renewed my USAT pro license for 2019 so still have the option to race as an amateur—but I’m committed to racing pro in 2019 once I free up enough time in my schedule to submit my results to USAT.
The fact is that racing as a professional:
saves you money: ~$1000 for the year versus $3000+ if you like to race as frequently as I do. And that’s not even counting home stays, which I have yet to do.
raises the level of competition: it is an entirely different race, on multiple levels. As an amateur, I could sit in a swim pack and swim 60’ in an Ironman, no problem—now, that’s an all-out solo swim effort that detracts from the rest of the race. Don’t even get me started on the bike slipstream effect
You fail quicker and faster. And get better as a result. As tough of a pill as this is to swallow, this is a wonderful thing. The most athletes who I see not cut it in the professional ranks are those who cannot acknowledge and learn from failure.
That last point is key. I have come to embrace that “failure” is a faster method of evolution and growth, as long as you learn and adjust accordingly and are not too hard on yourself.
Even though I only got to toe the start line for two triathlons and one mountain bike race, my 2019 was a terribly rough yet wonderful year of “evolution” on all fronts: athletic, professional and personal. And I’m a better person because of it.
At the end of the day, I think we all rise to the expectations that we set for ourselves, or that others set for ourselves. I’ve always performed best when I or my coaches have expected the best from myself and my performances. While realistic can often be good, I think it sometimes sets an upper limit on what is possible. As an aspiring Professional, whether capital P or little p, whether in work or on the race course, we can learn the most by being the right ratio of realistic and ambitious that keeps on moving forward as much as possible.