Expectations, Training and Racing

Like a lot of triathletes, I can be a fan boy to some of the best athletes in the world racing this sport. We appreciate the accomplishments of these athletes because we understand first hand the amount of dedication that is required to be world class. Many of us read athlete race reports and we vicariously live out their race experiences from our cubicles at work while munching down our lunch. My level of fan boy however has even extended to some elite age group athletes. Perhaps it is because these are athletes that are holding down a 9 - 5 just like me that makes me want to read up on what they are doing. One such athlete was retelling his Kona experience in an interview to a well known triathlon website. He framed his second place Kona performance by saying "I did the best that I could on the day, and that is all we can ask. And turns out my best that day was good enough for 2nd place in my AG – tough to complain about that!"

So many people might read that and think, "well what's not to like about getting on the podium?" And while that is true, to those who have landed a podium spot in a race you understand that it's never as satisfying as the top spot of the podium. Perhaps Ricky Bobby said it best when he said "If you are not first, you are last."

But in all seriousness, I began to think more about this statement and I began to apply it to my training. Last year my third son began to walk and he was EVERYWHERE. As all parents would understand, the older my child got, the more responsibility my wife and I have to him. And so last year I began to see my training hours go down. It's hard to process that as a very driven athlete wanting to chase the podium at every race. But the reality was that no podium finish would replace my time with my sons. I needed to learn how to be content with how much I could train and the results that training would produce. 

So I took these words from this athlete and began to apply it to my training as well as my racing. I have so many hours a week to train. Those training hours translate to a race, and ultimately a finish time. I've learned to accept that my 8 - 10 hours a week of training will have to stand against other peoples 16 - 18 hours of training, or in other cases 6 - 8 hours of training. Whatever my finishing time will be, I've learned to embrace that I finished as best as I could with 8 - 10 hours of training per week. If that's good enough for a podium spot, fantastic. If it isn't, that's great too. I know I went out and did the best I could do, and that's all I can ask of myself. I'm guilty of training envy as I see my friends putting in training hours I wish I had, but that's not my reality. It may never be my reality again. And that is OK. 

As you and your Coach work through your goals for the season be sure to set your expectations properly. Sports commentator Jason Whitlock said that happiness is a direct result of your expectations. If your expectations are a 16 hour training week, but your calendar only supports 10 hours, then you will never be happy. Set the right expectations for your training and racing. Once set, go out and crush your training and racing! When you've done this you will truly be happy with your performance. Put your training, racing and results in their proper place and have an awesome 2018 race season. 

Still need a Coach for the 2018 season? Contact Us at South Bay Multi Sport and we will help bring out your best on race day.

Meeting up with Montse

Q & A with Montse Tamez

Montse Tamez is the epitome of a time starved athlete. At home, her family includes four children who are all involved in their school, athletics and their church. At work she is a bilingual teacher working at a Spanish immersion school. Her and her husband are both very active in their local church, and yet somehow she manages to squeeze in training for triathlons and marathons. When Montse first came to SBMS she had a singular focus; to finish an Ironman within 4 years time. This is the type of athletic pursuit we especially enjoy working with as we can safely guide an athlete from short course to long course racing. This is her story as she enters her second year of racing. 

SBMS: Montse, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We wanted to shift our attention to our female athletes in our Q & A sessions. So to get us started, tell us about your athletic background.

Montse: Hi Josh! I have always considered myself to be an active person. I grew up doing gymnastics and swimming. During my season of having kids and raising them, I was limited to working out from home, but always made it a point to stay active and fit. It wasn't until 2014, when I came across a running group at my church that was going to start training for a half marathon. I had always enjoyed running, but was never consistent with it. I knew that joining this group would force me to be disciplined, and would help me build my endurance.                                              

SBMS: You first had a chance to work with me when you joined a group training at our church for the Eastlake Half Marathon. Share that experience with us.

Montse: Yes! Joining that group changed my life forever. It was the beginning of my passion for running. It was EXTREMELY hard at the beginning. The longest distance I had ever run was one mile! The group consisted of experienced runners that were fast, and had built their endurance over time. I remember getting up every morning, knowing that I was going to take a beating, and be super embarrassed by always being the last one and the slowest one, but that did not stop me. I am very stubborn and determined. There were key people in that group that kept me motivated and encouraged me to keep going, and to not give up. Completing that half marathon was one of the most rewarding accomplishments ever!

SBMS: After that half marathon you took to running. What is it about running that made you shift away from solo in-door workouts to running outdoors and conquering a marathon.

Montse: Running changed my life. I became addicted to the feeling of running. I literally met hundreds of people that shared this passion with me, and I became a part of this friendly and crazy community. After tasting what it was like to finish a race, I decided to continue training and completing more 'half marathons.' Until one day, you, Coach Josh, told me that I was ready to run a marathon, and that I should train for one. Hearing those words gave me the confidence that I could train and run a marathon, so I did.

SBMS: Tell us about your first full marathon. Where was it and how did it go for you?

Montse: My first full marathon was in June of 2016. I started training for it with the San Diego Track Club in January of that same year. Since that was my first marathon, my main focus was not to focus on time, but to finish it strong, and experience what it was like to run that distance. I really enjoyed the race. The course was not easy, and it included a two-mile uphill on mile 23. Although it was challenging, I was very proud of myself because I did not stop running, and I did not hit a wall. I kept waiting for that around mile 18, which is where most runners start to experience it, but I never experienced it, and I finished with a smile on my face. I had done it!! I had run a full marathon!! It took me 4 hrs and 52 minutes!

SBMS: You decided shortly after the marathon to try  a new athletic pursuit, a triathlon. What made you want to join a triathlon? 

Montse: Triathlon is a sport that I highly admire.  One of my best friends is a triathlete, and I always admired the amount of training and discipline she would put into it. She was the one who introduced me to the sport. I always felt very comfortable swimming and riding a bike, and running was already a part of me. That is when I decided to take on the challenge and start training for triathlon. It was also very convenient for me, as Coach Josh had a triathlon company, and I already felt comfortable training with him.

SBMS: Tell us about your rookie year in triathlon. How did that go for you?

Montse: I started training for triathlon on January 2017. I was super excited to start this journey and to take on the challenge. I really enjoyed the training schedules Coach Josh gave me from the beginning, and the masters swim class. I also kept on with my running, training for the Triple Crown, and 2 back to back marathons: Mountains to Beach (breaking my personal record, by shaving 30 minutes off my previous marathon) and San Diego Rock and Roll. My first triathlon race was the Spring Sprint in Mission Bay. This race was challenging because it was my first one, it was pouring rain non stop, and I was very nervous. I freaked out on the swim. I felt as if my wetsuit was suffocating me. I did better on the bike, and the run was fine. Again, this was my first race, so I took it as a trial. I was not very happy with the results, but after completing it, I felt better at knowing the drill and the flow of these type of races. 

SBMS: Your second race last year was a bit of a let down for you. You finished middle of the pack in what we both thought was a pretty shallow pool of talented athletes. We made changes to your approach and then you bounced back with a big performance, going Top 10 in a much deeper pool of athletes. Walk us thru that experience. 

Montse: Toward the summer of 2017, I started experiencing some health problems. I was not sure what was wrong with my body, but it was really affecting my training and my performance. My body felt very weak and my heart rate was very high even when I was not training. In the middle of these health issues, I completed my second sprint triathlon race, which was a complete failure. I panicked again on the swim, as my heart was racing extremely high, the bike was okay, and the run was terrible. On top of everything else, the weather was extremely hot. I finished the race, but I was not happy with the results. I knew I needed to get checked by a physician, as I had trained really hard, and my body had not responded. I continued to train, and three months later completed my third sprint, which was the Xterra Wetsuits tri. For this one, my Coach and I decided to ditch the wetsuit for the swim. It ended up being a complete success! I did not freak out on the swim, I swam without stopping! The bike was perfect, and I honestly feel I could have done better on the run, but it was okay. It got to a point where I could not see anyone from my age group cycling along, so I thought I had missed a loop on the bike. I kept going forward thinking that it was already too late to amend the situation. I was still feeling like there was something wrong with my body, as my heart rate was still very high, and I had not been checked by a physician yet. Little did I know that I had finished 8th place in my age group! This was great news for me, and I knew there was hope!! 

SBMS: So what are your big goals for triathlon, and what are your big goals in sport for 2018?

Montse: My main goal is to one day be able to complete a full Iron Man. In the mean time, I am training hard and meeting the small goals that will take me to achieve this goal. Triathlon has become a lifestyle. I strive to compete against myself and to improve every day. It is a very personal journey, that keeps me focused and disciplined. Some of my goals for this year include completing an Olympic distance triathlon, a Sprint, a full marathon, and several half marathons. I have also incorporated weights to my strength training routine, and I have fallen madly in love with them!

SBMS: Talk to us about Coaching with SBMS and how that has impacted your athletic pursuits. 

Montse: Coaching with SBMS has been a great positive experience. It has given me a base to start off my triathlon training, as I had no clue of where or how to begin. Coach Josh works around my busy schedule, and comes up with great weekly plans that can be executed.  Coach Josh has also helped me improve my form in swimming and running, as well as provided me with extra exercises for recovery and injury prevention. Working with SBMS has given me confidence and a structured plan to continue meeting my personal goals. I plan to continue training with them to keep being guided in this journey and to get the support I need to meet my goals.

SBMS: Before we sign off, is there anything else that you want to say to our readers?

Montse: Triathlon is a very complex sport that requires structured and systematic training. Training with a company such as SBMS is the best decision you can make. You will be guided and supported in order to meet your goals. Your confidence level will rise up, knowing that you are in the hands of knowledgeable Coaches that are also triathletes, and know what they are doing. I highly recommend training with SBMS, and making them a part of your journey!


Go Fast to Go Long

Signing up for a triathlon and not owning a road bike, much less a TT bike, sounds like a bad idea now, but at the time it felt oh so right! That was the start of my triathlon passion. I managed to find a bike on craigslist just three weeks before the race and I was off. I built up the race distances from Sprint to the Half Ironman in four years. As I looked ahead into what year 5 had for me I knew that it was time to do the one thing I said I’d never do; race an Ironman (140.6 miles).

Let’s speed up and get to the meat of this article and spare you all the details. In 2015 I raced and finished an Ironman and it was time to live up to the backside of the promise I made to my wife when I signed up for the Ironman; I would take the following year off from long course racing. So bring on 2016 and I raced five local sprint races and I had a blast! Racing Ironman events meant fewer races and traveling to different states to race – Utah and Arizona. With a schedule of local racing it meant less hours of training, higher intensity, and frankly, having more fun. But here’s the benefit that I am discovering in 2017. The year of short course racing prepared me for a breakout long course race in 2017. Ready to go back to long course racing I went right after Oceanside 70.3. I previously went 6:05 in 2014 and knew that I should beat that time pretty easily. Going 5:10 pleasantly surprised me!  

This encouraging result got me to think about the high value in short course racing and how that translates into long course racing. First off, I am appealing to the age-group triathlete that has somehow bought into the Ironman or nothing mentality of triathlon. Just because it’s short does not mean it is easy. It shouldn’t be. Short course racing is full throttle; don’t slow down until you cross the finish line racing. And if you aren’t executing that, then you are missing the point of short course racing. It is in fact called a “Sprint” for a reason. In long course racing you cannot race with this mentality as you’ve got to measure your watts or heart rate on race day. In short course racing there is no conserving energy. In short course racing they still line you up with your competitors in your age group and the field is usually small enough for you to know who you are competing against. With the new Ironman rolling starts, good luck with that.

So how does this type of racing prepare me for a 70.3 or 140.6? In short course racing you show up to race and it’s a mindset that you bring with you on race day. Just because the course is long does not mean that you shouldn’t race aggressively. There is a balance of that output and pacing that a coach will help you dial in. But I’ve seen too many athletes play it safe on the long course and lean too far to the “pacing” that they never lay it all out there. I’m convinced you can go faster!

So if you’re ready to see your long course results improve, consider going back to the fast and furious pace of short course racing. Chase that podium spot at a local tri. Train and race at a lung-busting pace. When you’ve strung together a season of PR’s and fulfilling short course results, go back to the long course and you’ll love what you’ll achieve.