You know the saying big fish in a little pond? I have always been a little fish in a big pond. I had over 1000 kids in my graduating class, 22,000+ students at my university in undergrad. I grew up in Houston, lived in Dallas and now LA, all top 5 cities in population. I do love all the amenities and opportunities of living in a “big pond” but I have always wondered what it would be like to live in a smaller community. This is especially true when it comes to racing.
The majority of the races i compete in are located in San Diego, the birthplace of the triathlon. I am not saying other communities are competitive, I am just saying it is ultra-competitive here. We have no off season, you can run and ride outdoors year round without discomfort. The chances of landing a top 3 AG (age group) position here are pretty slim, not impossible but slim.
I consider myself a pretty strong cyclist, but have I been in a small pond? I don’t do a lot of group rides these days, so it is hard to gauge. When I do complete in a triathlon, I usually have a top 10% bike time. Then again, I am competing with triathletes, not cyclists. In two weeks I will jump in head first to a huge pond, more like a lake, you know the big kind with waves (like a Great Lake). I am racing in THE mt. biking event of the year, the largest mt. bike race in the country (I do believe) and even though I am racing road, this is huge. BIG A$$ POND.
As for the other disciplines, I had my first running speed work out last week. Not my first speed work out of the training season…my first speed work out EVER. Trainer Ali and I went to local middle school track. It is not an asphalt track like I am use to in TX (we had to run laps as punishment in Drill Team), but a compact sandy track. According to my training plan, we were to run a one mile warm up (which we did in under 9 min which I thought was great…Ali looked disappointed) and then the sprints began. According to the plan we were to sprint a 200m directly followed by a 400m in zone 4 (one step below full out). The first one was tough, the sprint was difficult (200m is half a lap) but the hardest part was the 400m (a full lap). I finished a few step behind Ali, no biggie….I felt like I was gone to loose my apple (I dumbly ate 45 min before the run) but could handle the work out. According to the plan we were to repeat it 3 – 4 times. Each sprint became increasingly difficult. I was wheezing and sucking wind. Ali suggested that her minimalist shoes were helping, which was sweet but no shoe was going to help my huffing and puffing. Once again, little tiny fish.
And then there is swimming…oh, swimming. How far I have come and how far I have left to go! Less that 2 years ago when I started with Trainer Ali, I couldn’t make it down to the end of the pool. A few weeks ago I swam a mile in open water, yes…very calm open water, but open nevertheless! I was pretty stoked that I made it AND I did it in 34:25. Thirty-four minutes in open water is pretty good for me, but I was one of the last out of the water. BIG FREAKING POND!
That is one of the great things about endurance sports, you will always find a way to improve and there will always be a bigger pond. But every once in a while, I would like to play in a small pond. I know it won’t help me physically but I think it would do a world of good mentally!