Off season is great. For three weeks of the year, I can finally set triathlon aside. I’ve hardly thought about it since I ended my season in Los Cabos on November 12.
Right at the end of the season, however, it’s actually a great opportunity to think about triathlon. And I mean really think about. You can take a step back from the daily grind of training, from the in-the-moment attitude that carries you through each race, each session, each step and reflect on it all.
So maybe I have been thinking more about triathlon than I wanted to. I’ve been reflecting on how the 2017 season panned out for me.
I saw some amazing highs in 2017. I started my season off with a victory in Puerto Rico. In June, I added two podium finishes at races on Canadian soil. When I really think about it, my second-place finish in Mt. Tremblant was by far my athletic highlight of this year. The event is one of my favorite races and to be part of an all- Canadian podium truly made me proud to be representing Canada on the world stage. This race will be one of my focal points for 2018 for sure.
And then there were the lows. From the heights of the podium, I descended into some fairly deep valleys. The day before the Steelhead race in Michigan, I got sick with a 24 hour bug. Although I gritted my teeth and started the race the mext morning, I hadn't fully recovered.
That seemed to set off a storm of events through the coming weeks. A rejigged training schedule collided with personal and sponsorship commitments. And then, two weeks before the 70.3 World Championships, a small injury became a much larger problem.
Perhaps a bit stubborn, perhaps a bit foolhardy, I pushed through training and went to Chattanooga to test my mettle. It might have been enough to end my season then and there. Frustrated, with seemingly little progress in recovery, I pulled the plug on my next race and headed to California.
I spent the weeks after Worlds focusing on recovery, visiting podiatrists, physiotherapists, and other specialists. Much to my relief, the injury improved, so much so I was contemplating racing again before I flew back to Canada for Canadian Thanksgiving.
I wanted to race again in 2017. After such a spectacular start, I was hardly satisfied with how the season had ended. I pegged Austin as my next event.
In Austin, I seemed to be back in form. The frustrations of the season seemed to fade away. Until the last 10 kilometers of the race, I was in contention for a podium finish. This was a good step in the right direction.
The fifth-place finish in Austin wasn’t enough. I wanted one more chance to prove myself. Racing is often just as much about mentality as it is your physical ability. As much as the physical injury had recovered, my confidence had suffered a blow. Austin was a step to rebuilding it.
Los Cabos wasn’t the confidence-boosting season-ender I was looking for. A lot of factors came together to make the day very difficult.
In many ways, racing is a reflection of life: It’s full of ups and downs. The important lesson here is it doesn’t matter quite so much in the end. Even the greatest triathlete is going to have an off day. What’s important isn’t so much that you were down, but that you get back up again.
Looking backwards, reflecting on the season isn’t a bad thing. Thinking about my 2017 season, with all its ups and downs, all the good and all the bad, has given me some insight about where I can make changes. Where I can improve. What I can do differently. How I can be better.
Now it’s time to look forward again. The next opportunity, the 2018 season, is just around the corner.