Confidence is powerful!

18 Jul

As a coach, an athlete and a father of a competitive athlete you learn a lot about yourself and others and overcoming challenges and setbacks. You learn a lot about the human spirit and the human heart and will to fight and push limits.

 

The last year has been tough for both myself and for my daughter Bella. My 2015 season had some ups and downs and the start of 2016 at the Boston marathon went really wrong for me. Bella also had a really tough 2016 (spring) Track season running for Minnetonka High school team as an 8th grader.  (mostly Varsity meets, but sometimes JV) Bella never ran at her potential all season and just lacked happiness and a hunger. As for myself I had the hunger I just was not performing great and it was leaving my depressed and down.

So 2016 was going to be my year!! And summer of 2016 was going to be Bella’s return to Triathlon after setting out the 2015 season to focus on swim team and cross country.

I had Bend, Oregon and Duathlon National Championships set as my goal for the year! I wanted that National Champion jersey that my very dear friend Manuela had won the year before. (I also coach Manuela and train with her) I was motivated to work hard and focus all my efforts on that day in Bend! Leading up to Bend I raced some events like Spring classic Duathlon (2nd overall) and Apple Duathlon (age group 1st place and 2nd Master’s and top 10 overall) then the Buffalo Triathlon (Olympic distance) 1st age group and a top 10 overall as well as #1 Master’s.

So going to Bend I felt confident and positive that I had a shot at success! Well things worked out and I became a USA Triathlon Duathlon National Champion in the standard distance (10k run, 40k bike, 5k run) men 40-44! And I earned that jersey I coveted.  I was also the 2nd overall Master that day in Bend. Since I got home from Oregon my training has been going very well and I feel great… so next race is coming up and who knows what could happen?

Now Bella.. she has a passion for the sport of Triathlon she just loves it!! She has been racing kids Triathlon and the Iron Kids series of Triathlon since she was 6 years old. But after sitting out the 2015 season she wanted to get back! This summer was meant to be just learning and practice and no real expectations. She would train and race hard on her limits but she was moving up to longer distance races and competition against adults. Bella is a gifted athlete and a great kid.  Love her to pieces! And love training with her! One of the best things about her getting back into Triathlon was the chance for her and I to train together and spend more time together.  Now Bella has never owned “cycle shoes” and has never clipped into her pedals so that was lesson number one we had to teach her this summer. So far so good, also Bella is still growing and so I’m reluctant to buy her a new bike (since she out grew her old road bike) So she fits on her moms bike and that was the plan let her ride moms bike. Which is a nice Trek Madone (older style) but no aero wheels just basic aluminum wheels and Sram rival groupo. So it’s a nice road bike but certainly not a high end aerodynamic machine like most of her competition rides.

Race #1 for Bella  (Life Time MPLS Triathlon)

This race has a JR. Elite division so I thought good she can race against kids her age. But they still do the full “Sprint” course half mile swim, 15 mile bike, 5k run. This was the first Triathlon Bella did that I could not go into transition with her and help her rack the bike and set things up she had to do it on her own. (of course this makes dad very nervous) then the sitting around waiting for her wave to go off!  Which of course she is the last wave! Bella gets nervous and struggles to eat and hydrate on race mornings. (this always worries me also) But I got some water and chews into her and after she got in the lake did her warm up swim she started to settle down and feel good. Once the gun went off and she entered the lake for that swim it was game on!  She rocked that swim course with the fastest swim split of all JR. Elites even the boys and she would have had one of the fastest swim splits of the entire race no matter what age. She complained about all the old slow swimmers she had to swim around and over but she handled it like a PRO!! But I’m sure it slowed her down some.  Then transition time, she is still learning to transition fast but she did OK, off on the bike she goes now this course is technical and not flat but not super hilly either. She navigated the 15 mile course passing all the people who started before her and rocked a 20mph bike split time. Then came that 5k run and she finally got some hydration because again she is small and still learning her way on the bike so she is scared to reach down grab a bottle and drink on the ride. She kicked out a nice 5k and well won the female JR Elite division and actually was 2nd overall in that division with only a 16 year old boy beating her. But then when we looked at her time we noticed it was fast enough for 4th overall female in the Sprint race no matter what age. And she was only seconds away from being top 3 and on the podium for the overall results.

This race gave Bella loads of confidence and a huge smile!! That was the main thing seeing her so happy and smile with such pride and excitement. She was back racing Triathlon and she was having success! As a dad, as a coach this made me so proud and happy no matter how the result of that race turned out.

Race #2 for Bella  Heart of the Lakes Triathlon “short course”

This race was just yesterday, it was a ¼ mile swim, 9 mile bike, and 2.5 mile run, so little shorter distance but still a good test for a 13 year old girl. Major thunderstorms rolled in during setting up transition and then the question became will we race? Luckily they blew out quickly and the sun came out and race was on with only a 15 minute delay. But post storms means strong winds and that is what we got! Wind! Again Bella was in the last wave which meant a congested course! Especially for the swim, and again Bella maneuvered around the slower swimmers and cranked out the 5th fastest swim split of the day! Now bike time… it’s only 9 miles but it was some strong winds for a little peanut to contend with and she did just that still cranking out a 20mph average bike split on moms old road bike. (the bike is where she gives up time right now to the others) then she cranked into her 2.5 mile run and had the 2nd fastest run split of the day! And that run took her right into 3rd overall female for the day! She was ear to ear smile and so pumped!  I could not believe it! I know Bella is strong and would do well but after seeing the competition and the older competitors on their fancy Tri-Bikes and aero wheels I was like umm not sure if she can reach that goal of top 3 overall. (which was Bella goal when the day began) So for her to share the podium with a 19 year old girl who races a fair amount and is a very strong biker, and a 43 year old woman who has done Ironman and loads of racing it was pretty cool! That this little 13 year old with only one race under her belt this season and limited training because of school sports just rocked a time to put her 3rd overall!

 

After these two races she is beaming with confidence, she is happy, excited, smiling and loving training and racing again. And the goal is for this to carry over into High school cross country season when she joins up with her teammates at Minnetonka High school in August. So the past of bad races, tough seasons for Bella has been forgotten with this new success she has had in the sport of Triathlon and the best thing she is so happy and having fun! she loves the Triathlon training from jumping on the bike and busting miles, to kicking dads butt in open water swim workouts. Or running 400’s on the track with dad and the adult athletes he coaches.  Bella is a great kid and you can tell as (dad) I’m so proud and love to talk about her! And even more I love to see her compete and compete with that smile!

So if you’re struggling if you have been having some tough seasons. Stay positive hang in there and keep pushing to have that good race, that goal race find your confidence and once you do use it to propel you into your training and next race, next season etc… as this can have a great snowball effect and bring you lots of smiles for years to come! That is when you believe in yourself and stay confident!

Best of luck!

Coach MB

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