I had a major, unexpected goal shift this week on the triathlon front. My goal for the year has been to qualify for Xterra Nationals and last year my age group and Region had 5 slots available, 4 of which were used (1 person either didn't claim her slot or didn't go to the race, I was next in line but went to DOCNA Champs instead). Without going into too many tedious details the gist of it is that there is one person who went to Nationals last year who I could maybe sort of catch up to this year and if just one of the other top 4 people didn't go it would mean I'd have a shot at qualifying but I'd have to work really really hard so this was a good goal. I don't care much about titles, beating people, etc. but I do like goals where winning or running clean means you get to do something. For example qualifying in USDAA Team means I get to go to Nationals, getting good placements in Xterra races means I get to go to Nationals, there's some concrete reward for my efforts as opposed to a ribbon or title or some sort of glory in beating someone just for the heck of it. Nationals events for whatever sport have a special feel to them, it's a great feeling of accomplishment to attend them even if I'm not shooting for top awards.
However I found out this week that Xterra is taking a whopping 10 slots from my age group for Nationals this year so I could pretty much do 1 or 2 races and qualify no matter what place I got. Last year there were 18 women in my age group who got points and only 7 did 2 races or more. On the one hand this now makes my goal of qualifying not very challenging at all. On the other hand it does take some unpleasant pressure off of me in that I was starting to obsess a bit over who else was showing up to races I had entered which is obviously something I have no control over. I'd much rather focus on my own personal improvement rather than trying to be better than someone else and now I can shift focus to that rather than worrying about who will or won't show up to the races I've entered and how it will effect my ability to go to Nationals.
Which brings me to the intuition part of the story. I hemmed and hawed a bit about entering the Xterra Mountain Champs because it's a longer, more difficult race than my others plus a lot of hassle due to the logistics of the race (2 1/4 hour drive in the mountains, 2 transition zones, etc.). In the end I went with my gut and entered it before I knew about the extra slot for Nationals and now I'm glad I did because it's largely been the motivation for all the early season training I've been doing. If I'd known I didn't need to do 4 races for Nationals I probably wouldn't have entered it but now that I've spent the money and there are no refunds I have to train for it and do it. Nationals will also be a longer, more challenging course so even though I don't need to work hard to qualify, I will need to work hard to finish and do well there. I've not got a shot at the podium but it would be nice to have a good solid race and not be struggling at the back of the pack. And it's nice to know that I'll be able to go for sure so I'll be all the more eager to put in the hard work.
I also went with my gut and decided not to enter USDAA Regionals in April. Cancelled my hotel reservations and had a huge surge of relief. The main reason is the expense, it's too much time and money. Right now both Strum and I are so rusty from time off for his injury, bad weather, etc. I went out to the practice field this morning and it wasn't horrible but it wasn't fabulous either. There was a USDAA standard course set up from one of the judges for Regionals and it was a fun little course but I had issues with sloppy handling and Strummer's dogwalk, which had been doing pretty awesome lately, had fallen to pieces once again. He even had some misses with the stride regulator for the first time ever. He's just turned 7 and at his age I simply can't put the reps on his body that it'll take to fix all our issues so I'll continue to plug along and try to find ways to train them but I don't want to spend a zillion dollars traveling to try to get a Grand Prix Q and he has one little mistake. We have 5 local (2 hours or less) trials left and if I can't get 1 GP and 2 Steeplechase Q's out of those then we probably shouldn't blow the money entering them at Nationals anyway. I know I can go in Team and whatever extra warm up games they have so I'm happy with that.
More pictures from my ride at Lory yesterday. Was sunny, mid-70's, breezy, another picture perfect day.
Make a wish.
There's a creepy looking general store on the way to Lory. One of these days I'll stop and go in and take better pictures of the creepy murals on the walls.
I cropped out the Harley biker guys and blew up the mural but it's still hard to see and I missed the creepiest part of it altogether. I was taking this from a moving car. Guess I'll just have to go back.