I recently had a birthday now making me 42. I was lucky enough to have a fancy girls dinner 1 night which included getting dressed up and blowing the hair dry, and then a surprise visit from my Dad who was traveling through for work. My Dad is a retired football coach and has always been the best for encouraging me to dream the biggest dream, and chase after any goal. During high school sports, or college volleyball, or training for my first Ironman when things went wrong, he always had a way to make something positive out of it, and taught me how to set goals and go after them. So, as I sat there with my Dad for my 42nd birthday dinner he asked what races I was doing this year, he gets excited to hear what races I have planned, how training is going and still gives me pep talks! :)
I am no longer a newbie to the W40-44, and I have been a part of this division for a couple years now. So here are some of my thoughts and observations on the W40-44.
1. At big races the times can be still quite fast and fierce, while the depth of the fast times might not be as big. It is still a very competitive group, but I do notice a little more relaxed attitude at the start line, even though the fierceness is still there. I think this comes from experience, which leaves a lot of the uptightness at home.
2. You now get to compete for the "masters" overall. Hmm. not sure what to think about that. The first year I raced in this age group, I completely forgot about that it was even there, because I don't think of myself as an old master and I am still out there going for it and don't want a special category. I have raced long enough to have an award in the W20-24....and I can remember in being in my early 30s seeing the W40-44 getting awards and thinking wow, they look great for their age, but what are they still doing out there? ha....now here I am/ that person!. Somebody please tell me to excuse myself from the sport if it gets too ugly!
3. Most of the women are managing kids, house, and work and whatever else is added to the plate, PTO, fundraisers, kids activites etc; so when their time comes to race and train, they are putting it ALL out there. They've managed and muli-tasked their way into some training and racing time, add a little mom guilt and that is enough to light a wicked fire. They are smarter with their training doing what they know works, either because that is all there is time for, or...they have learned from past mistakes. Too much training and being pulled in too many directions doesn't work and leaves can leave you feeling flat as a pancake.
my 40-44 y/o friends
4. Many in this age group have figured out that doing all the tricks for faster recovery is a big part of still having success. At first I didn't think I fell into this category, but it it took several bad races and bad workouts following killer efforts to make it sink in that it takes a little longer to recover. So you become smarter with planning out the training, racing, and take recovery a little more serious. Choosing to do an Olympic Distance race 2 weeks after a 1/2 IM just isn't an option if wanting a good outcome. When I take the recovery process serious, I can still go out there and pull out some good stuff.
5. I think most may agree that it takes a little longer to get the high end speed back after time off, and most likely the high....high end isn't quite as it was. I refuse to admit it, but it is a little bit of a hard reality.
So what races and goals did I tell my Dad at my birthday dinner? Well the funny thing is that the training I've been doing has been going great. I have felt great, getting fit and fast again, and I've been motivated to get up in the wee hours of the morning, or step out into the artic tundra we get to train in through the winter. The thing that is different is that I don't have any super high goal of qualifying for this or that or racing sub this or that. According to Simon Thomo(my coach) this is how you want it, truly loving the training and the journey of getting fit and fast, then the rest (races) will fall into place. It seems like in years past it was always the opposite. Pick a huge goal, race/races then train like a madwoman and go for it leaving everything in else in the dust. It worked for awhile then things fell apart behind it in the dust cloud. This also is part of being 40-44. Coming full circle. In this age group some have already figured it out, some haven't yet.
So my season starts with Memphis in May, continues with a 1/2 IM in June (haven't done 1 in a few years !), and from there who knows. That's another part of being 40-44, having 2 kids and being married to an Ironman... going with the flow.