Jack of All Trades

Ever heard that phrase? “Jack of all trades, master of none?” I remember someone telling me that this is what I would be when I chose to become a military officer. Not great at anything but solidly decent at all of it. I don’t know how this comment was intended but I did not view it positively.

Many years ago, post race, with Hampton Road Runners. It this group that gave me a passion for running and an understanding of the power of community. Can you find me in the pic? I look so young!

As I’ve journeyed into triathlon, I’ve found it very difficult to loosen my grip on my running roots. I know Coach Dai told me this numerous times… That something would have to give if my overall triathlon performance was going to substantially improve. I just couldn’t accept it. I refused to lose traction as a runner in order to improve my bike and swim.

Maybe it was hearing the same song from a different coach or maybe it was my belly-flop of a marathon last June but for the first time EVER I was willing to put running on the back burner and work on other disciplines. We focused mostly on swimming and strength with just a few runs a week. It was all good… Until it was time to jump in a local road race.

My results from the Double Bridge 15k on 13FEB16.

I’m ashamed to say that a very large part of me did not want to run this race because (here is where I look at the ground ashamed) I didn’t want people to think I was “slow.” Having PR’d my half marathon last June with a 7:17ish pace, I absolutely knew that I wouldn’t be delivering a performance even remotely similar for this 9.3 mile race. I wanted to announce to the world “I can be faster! I swear!” But, having just read an article in the US Masters Swim magazine about the “humble brag,” I decided not to add any qualifiers on to my performance. If someone said I had a good race, I would say thank you. I wouldn’t announce it as a training run. I would just run it.

And you know what? I ran it without my garmin and without a time or pace goal and I had fun! My goals, instead were to focus on correcting my troublesome posture (I tend to drop my pelvis, which leaves my back poorly supported and means more work for my legs) and I didn’t want to die at the end. Coach Derek had told me several times that he fell apart at the end of this race many years ago and when someone of that athletic caliber tells you to respect a course, you respect the course. I accomplished BOTH goals and was pleased to see that I negative split the race by running on feel, alone. Of course, I could have had a better attitude about the race and actually have done a warm up rather than warming up the first two miles so… It wasn’t a slam dunk of positivity. I definitely huddled behind the start line complaining about the cold instead. Oh well. Overall, it was a good race and a great experience.

Some of my Gulf Coast Cycle and Tri teammates and friends at the start of the 15k.

What matters most is really the direction in which I’m headed. I’m a much stronger swimmer now that I was a year or even six months ago and we’ve just begun to focus on my running a bit more. I have to stop thinking of triathlon as three separate disciplines; it is an unique sport that requires unique training. And you know what? I’m not the fastest runner I’ve ever been and I have no idea when I will get back there. I’m learning more and more that triathlon is a sport for the patient. As our pastor said yesterday: if you have microwave patience, you can’t expect crockpot results.

So, I write this in the hopes that it will encourage others to have crockpot patience and to vanguish th humble brag. Of course, I’ll be honest when talking about my training but I’m going to work really hard to avoid any qualifiers… “Thanks, I’m really happy since I haven’t been running at all…” And I’m just going to try to say “thanks,” and mean it!

Swim, bike, run, smile!