In Transition

I’ve been thinking about the season wrap-up I wanted to write. I’d planned to talk about my gains in cycling, my transition to using more data and power, and late-season improvements in my running, all trying to get back to my peak performances from 2013. This isn’t that story.

When mentoring new triathletes, I talk a lot about transition–the moments in triathlon when you switch from swimming to cycling (T1) and from cycling to running (T2). In a race, your transition time is part of your total time, but you aren’t making progress–you’re setting up for the next discipline. A common mistake is lingering in the transition area, fussing with socks, fiddling with footwear, while others speed ahead, focused on the next discipline. During a poor transition, you lose focus and time.

I tell new triathletes that your transition starts well before you find your bike rack. A well executed transition starts with practice and routine, knowing where your items are, not bringing the kitchen sink, and about thinking through your transition plan well before a race. In the last few meters of the swim, I start running through my transition routine. Wetsuit off, swim cap and goggle lodged in the sleeve; tossed under bike. Helmet on and fastened, bike shoes on, grab bike and go. In the last quarter mile of the bike course, I do the same, mentally rehearsing my transition process, then executing efficiently. I often ‘win’ transition based on my confidence, hustle and no guesswork.

At the end of 2017, I find myself in a different sort of transition, ending the year without a job, a bit stuck deciding what direction to take, and second-guessing myself almost hourly. It’s the exact opposite of how I execute my triathlon transitions. In a race, I’m completely confident on my transitions. In my life, not so much.

Finding myself with very possibly fewer sunrises in front of me than behind me, it’s odd to find myself floundering. But today, laid up with bronchitis that’s gone on for a week, unable to train, I’m trying to make peace with transition. Without transitions, there’s no triathlon, no finish line, no victory. Without change, there’s no growth. And while I might find myself in a weird transition right now, it’s a matter of finding my gear, trusting my training, and getting on with it.

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