Comfort Zone

Or more accurately, “out of my comfort zone.” I started this post last week, but it still feels as relevant as it did when I first sat down.

Summer may be coming to a close in most places but it feels like it just arrived in Los Angeles. Temperatures have been climbing and the sweat has been plentiful. This the time every year that I get nostalgic for fall and miss the east coast. Especially when Peet’s Coffee adds Maple Latte’s to their menu. I just can’t get into a fall drink when my car is reading 85 degrees.

Over the past few weeks I have found myself frequently out of my comfort zone in regards to training. Typically I do most of my swim, bike, run on my own. I don’t mind the solo time and I like the control. But lately I have had some great days while taking some big risks.

On Labor Day I set out for a long ride with a teammate of Mark’s. Someone who has been riding longer than I have even been aware of triathlon, and who is strong beyond my imagination. I was all nerves wondering if I was going to hold him back, if he would get frustrated and ride away, etc. But as we rolled up the coast and into the scorching Valley heat I was able to leave the nerves behind. Could Dan have dropped me if he wanted to? Absolutely, but I hung in and five hours later I was still kicking.

The treadmill is something I have never really made peace with. I know many people who love its control and consistency, set a speed and go. Whereas I always feel heavy, labored, and slow. But last week, something switched. I had an ominous strength/run combo on the schedule (especially when the run pace was dictated as, “As fast as you can go.”) I hesitantly started the session and was surprised at the speed I was able to keep. And when it showed up again this week? I managed 10 seconds per mile faster overall.

By no means have I been in the sport of triathlon for very long– most of the athletes I interact with are tackling Ironman #9 or 10. But sometimes I wonder how much more progress there is for me to make as an athlete. How much faster can I swim or how many more watts can I put out on the bike? Some days it feels like I might be close to the edge of what is possible. And then a few days like those above come together and I feel like the limits are farther than I ever could have thought. If I can only push the boundaries of my comfort zone a little bit farther.

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