Pass the Salt & Perspective – Pigman 2015

Pass the Salt & Perspective – Pigman 2015

The Pigman Long Course race was one of my favorite racing experiences I’ve ever had! Was it the perfect race? Nope. Were conditions ideal? Nope. Did I place as high as I would have liked to? Nope. But there were two, major breakthroughs  that happened: 1) nutrition and 2) mental.

1) Nutrition has been something that I’ve been struggling with all year. The changes I’ve made with my overall diet, cutting out gluten and most grains, has been going well, and I’ve been feeling significantly better. I switched to using Tailwind as my drink mix and Honey Stinger gels and chews. Tailwind has less corn-based sugars than other products I could find, and Honey Stinger doesn’t use any. However, I was still struggling with dehydration. I spent 6 1/2 hours on my bike a couple weeks ago, went through 10 bottles, but completely crashed during the 30 minute brick run afterwards. I was light-headed and could barely get my legs to move. Talking with Alyssa afterwards, she expressed concern that this was a result of hydration, more specifically a lack of adequate salt to absorb hydration properly. Per her recommendation, I started searching for some BASE salt that I could use during Pigman, the following weekend. Triathletes are a very generous bunch, and I managed to find an athlete that was willing to let me use some as my shipment wasn’t going to arrive in time. Every five miles on the bike and every mile on the run, I was to take a small lick of salt. I’ve changed a lot with my diet over the last couple of months, so I can’t say with certainty that any one thing made the difference during Pigman. What I do know, however, is that I had none of the symptoms I had during that dreaded brick run, and I had one of my best half-iron runs to date. So do yourself a favor and start training and racing with salt!

Bike 12) The mental aspect of endurance sports it well know as an element that has just as much potential to produce great success or lead to intense breakdown. The ability to overcome any and every obstacle that presents itself can be the deciding factor in how one’s day plays out. This sport is not comfortable, and you will encounter some level of pain. Everyone experiences it, but it’s the ones that take it head-on that are usually the ones standing on top of the podium. Breaking through those moments has been difficult for me. Being mentally strong enough to quit thinking and push beyond the pain is not easy. At Liberty in June, I had very little mental energy to push through the issues I dealt with on the run. At Pigman, though, a switch got flipped, and I began seeing these moments differently.

A week before the race, I decided that it was time to register. It was already full, however. This was not something I was expecting, but due to my procrastination, I quickly found myself without entry. That same weekend, another local athlete was hit my a car while out on a training ride and offered to transfer his registration to me. As happy as I was to now be able to race, I would much rather he was racing and not on the sidelines nursing a broken collarbone 8-weeks out from Kona. His wife wrote a post on her blog three days prior to the race that really caught my attention. Her final line says this, “When you wake up tomorrow please find joy in the steps of your run, the stroke of your swim, or the push of the pedal…because you can” (Be Your Journey). Finish 2This really brought me back to reality with where I am in the sport. I don’t make money doing this, and I spend far too much time training and away from my family, that if I don’t find joy swimming, biking, and running I probably shouldn’t be doing it. So at every moment during Pigman when I didn’t want to go another step or push just a little harder to catch that next person up the road, I flipped that energy into joy that I am able to do this. I have been blessed with the physical strength and capability to embark on adventures that not everyone can.

So why not enjoy the pain? Why not go out with the sole purpose of pushing yourself as hard as you possibly can? Being less than two weeks out from IM Wisconsin, I’m thrilled that this mindset shift has happened now. These are going to be the things I think about when immersed in the washing machine that will happen at the start of the swim, when staring down the hills of the bike and with every step of the run. Here’s to racing with joy!

“The body achieves what the mind believes.”