Being approached to write a blog post involving my year of PR’s made it real. To think that I could serve as an exemplar of my coach’s business, pointing to multiple staggering PR’s is still bewildering to me, even though when I was originally approached, the year was far from over and I had yet to cross the finish line of my race of a lifetime: Ironman Arizona.
I was thrilled but apprehensive to tackle the task, especially since somewhere deep inside I knew that in order to truly talk about triathlon PRs, I had to talk about my personal life in front of the entire inter-webs. Eeeek! Nonetheless, here it is: what I did to prepare and execute my year of PR’s.
I was Brutally Honest with Myself
This one is a tough one, personally, but believe it or not it does have to do with PR’s. To put it lightly, I was going through a rough patch when I realized I hadn’t been honest with myself for quite a long time. In 2016, I repeatedly took a good long look in the mirror over the course of six months, which finally worked – by that I mean the rose-colored story about myself eventually faded away to the raw bare bones truth.
Inventory of things I wasn’t pleased about:
- I was not happy as an entrepreneur: all about the money, no passion.
- I claimed to be searching for balance in my life, but my actions were more consistent with disrupting balance and fostering chaos.
- I had severe body image issues.
- I didn’t like taking risks, mainly driven by a fear of failure.
- I isolated myself from my closest friends and family members. They always got the rosey version of my story.
Inventory of things I was pleased with:
- I love food – I’d bring ice cream, french fries, and ice cream to my deserted island.
- I’m a passionate person that loves to be all in. And when I’m all in – look out world!
- I’m persistent – I don’t give up easily.
- When I’m present, I’m good at relating to others.
- I love triathlon – specifically long course –and specifically the journey that is the training.
- I love riding bikes – all kinds – and I want to ride my mountain bike more.
- I enjoy the crap out of gadgets. If it’s shiny and does something, I’m probably into it.
- I’ll like doing what people would consider “epic shit.” It makes me feel good about myself.
I Hired Chris and became a CBCG athlete
In December of 2015, my buddy Steve invited me to a CBCG clinic about mental skills. I was blown away. So I finally cracked, raised the white flag, and asked for help - enter Chris Bagg stage left. In doing so, he helped me sort through the hodge podge above, and repurposed it into very clear goals that I was both passionate and excited about (none of which was a PR at that point). Everything was centered around getting faster, enjoying training, and completing my workouts to the detail in which they are prescribed. Then things naturally happened that I didn’t expect – I PR’d. First it was by 10 minutes at a half marathon followed by another big PR at St. George 70.3. Needless to say, I proceeded to get excited about my future and, with Chris’ sanctioning, set a new goal... to PR my full Ironman distance in 2017.
I Elected to Commit to the Details
This concept is where art meets science. In triathlon, every workout matters. Chris supported my new lofty goals, but we both knew I couldn’t just show up to training anymore, but rather, I had to commit to prepping for each workout, being in the moment throughout, and following the script to the best of my ability. Prior to working with Chris, I approached Ironman training in concert with my chaotic life, frequently sick, distracted, unmotivated, or underperforming in training. Chris architected a plan that played to the things that I loved, while committing to my overall health and well-being (i.e. balance). In doing so, I was better positioned to commit to the details.
For one thing, Chris increased my swim volume by a gajillion yards in comparison with past years. He also gave me specific drills and individualize gadgets to play with, which kept me engaged, but were also designed to and improve my specific swim ability in the process. I also added a ton more events; the concept of “A Races” was a bit novel to me, so Chris introduced how more events simply lead to more chances to practice those race day skills. I tackled a half marathon for the first time since 2012, and I also signed up to do the legendary Seattle To Portland ride in one day - both events designed to rehearse components of that looking Ironman PR ahead of me.
PRs are Personal
Amidst all the drama of my prior years, I lacked perspective, inciting a pretty serious attitude problem. Unsurprisingly, I scoffed at the concept of PR’s. I got dejected that what felt monumental for me was seemingly easy for other athletes. Most significantly, I didn’t think even my PR times could ever appear as impressive as, for instance, someone minutes away from qualifying for Boston, but still putting up an amazing time. How could my half marathon PR of 2:09 even compete? That line of thinking is total bullshit. The only person PR’s should matter to is you! I re-discovered that when you are truly honest with yourself, you have a clearer path to truly meaningful goals. If being on the podium is one of them – more power to ya. One of the best parts about this sport is that both pros and age groupers can revel in each other’s accomplishments because no matter the goal, we all have likely attacked it with vigor and passion, while navigating obstacles under pressure; last Sunday, I closed out the season with potentially my best race ever.
IMAZ Race Report
We were packed into the chute for the rolling swim start like sardines. Although I was surprisingly relaxed leading up until the gun went off, it was getting real, and I suddenly bristled as I realized we cross the timing before we enter the staircase, so you really needed to move since the clock had started. When I dove in, the cold water was utterly shocking, despite being reported at 67, sending me into a fit of shock. I struggled breathing, remiss to even put my face under water.
But I knew what to do. Escape from Alcatraz normalized frigid waters with no warm up for me, so I did breast stroke for maybe a minute or two just to settle down, and then proceeded on my way. Still, the sun was in my face the entire way out, the murky water lent zero visibility, and I got clocked in the head pretty good at least three times. Once I made the turn, however, it was game-on. In T1, I glanced at my watch, stoked to see a triumphant 1:19 smashing my goal to get out as much before 1:30 as possible. Normally I'm a bit of a princess, with two wardrobe changes and frequent porta-potty use on the bike. Not this year. T-1 success ️.
The bike was all about managing my watts and nutrition. Coach Chris had prepared me to adapt tot the dynamics of variable headwinds, and to aim to increase intensity throughout the three loops. After the first loop I knew a sub-6 hour bike split could be possible, but I tried not to get way with that potentially futile goal, the voice of Coach Chris resonating. Still nailed it with a bike PR to boot. What's even more cool is that we dialed back my average watts from CDA to ensure I had enough in the tank for the run. In T-2, I used the porta potty like a gentleman, and was in great spirits ️.
I jubilantly saw my parents at the onset of the run, so I scooted over to give them a hug, and unceremoniously face-planted in the dirt on the side of the course. My handsome chewed up, and my sports drink now fueled the sidewalk. No one saw that right? I'm historically bad at the initial run off but we spent nearly every bike workout with a run off, so outside of my acrobatics everything else felt physically normal. Mile 3...The Wattie Tunnel. All the good-looking people dancing and high-fiving you, with Wattie and Heather giving me hugs and high fives at the end DOES NOT GET OLD. The encore entailed Jake and Jen McCall a quarter mile later with the most pro signs ever. Mom and dad were ten steps after that. It was a tremendously great start, face-plant notwithstanding, but I knew the hard part was going to be everything else in between. Took the average heart rate off the bike and was was aiming to gradually increase my intensity to end about ten beats higher. Mile 5: the stomach gurgle hit, so I opted to evacuate the system at mile 6. Mile 7: I saw the Dan-The-Man-Weinsoft smile for another boost. Mile 9: I steadily tackled the big hill, but entered a dark place, mentally, on the way back to town. Feeling tired and hot. Mile 12 - ran into Michelle and Johan Reitz and noticed the sun was beginning to set, and thus began a four-mile stretch of awesome - special needs refill, The Wattie Tunnel Redeux, the parental units, and the coolness of sunset.
Mile 16: no longer able to stomach my Cliff Blocks, I forced myself to stick with the Gu schedule until Mile 19. Finally, my stomach put up the white flag. He did good until now, though, so I thought I could just float it in from here, but by Mile 23 I was back on Gatorade like my PR depended on it. The fear of failure was so present. I was afraid something could wrong like a cramp, a bonk, or another gastrointestinal incident that it motivated me to keep pushing. By mile 24 I was speaking in tongues and had the full blown Stevie Wonder head shake. I cleaned up my act right before the finish when I ran into the Reitz family again and then I looked at my watch...BOOYAH BIRTHDAY DANCE. All I could think of was "Bagg we did it!!!!" I'm pretty sure I said this out loud. Yes I did the work, but Coach Bagg and his Mr. Miagi magic allowed me to believe it was possible. It was much more than that - I knew it was possible. I just had to execute to my potential and I certainly feel as though I did just that.️
And with that, I can confidently say I'm sooooo stoked on my season. I worked my ass off and saw the hard work pay off in both triathlon and my personal life. I'm even more excited to plan out 2018, which is sure to include a couple more IM’s with new goals. Thankfully, Coach Chris and all the CBCG Coaches encourage balancing pursuits, so let's not forget mountain biking- Moab Round II is also in the works.