Looking Back at 2015 to Move Forward in 2016

I can’t believe the first week of December has already came and went!! With less than 1 month to the start of 2016, it is time to reflect on 2015. It is good to look at the past (taking a look at what went well and what needs improvement) before planning for the future.  I have taken some time to reflect and evaluate my 2015 journey so I can set S.M.A.R.T. goals for 2016.


USA Triathlon posted a great article that I used to help me evaluate my 2014 training and racing season before trying to plan for 2015. I found this reflection very beneficial and thought I would use the same questions to reflect on my 2015 season so I can better plan for 2016.

1. In hindsight, were your goals for the season clear and attainable?

-My goals were clear and attainable: smile and have fun at Ironman Boulder while pushing to break 14 hours.  I feel like I could have pushed a little bit harder to break 14 hours since my overall finish time was 14:04:37, but I did manage to smile and have fun all day long!! I love Ironman racing…it makes my heart happy 🙂

Coming into the finish shoot all smiles...it was a daylight finish, but these photos don't represent that.
Coming into the finish shoot all smiles…it was a daylight finish, but these photos don’t represent that. Photo courtesy of Finisherpix

2. What are you most proud of this season?

-I had a huge PR on the IM bike…granted Ironman Boulder was a much easier bike course than Ironman Wisconsin, but I still pulled out a bike PR!! I broke crushed my previous IM bike PR by 1:10:46. Despite a slower swim and run, I still ended up with a PR at #IMBoulder of over an hour (which obviously came mostly from my bike split). I am happy and confident that I could have aimed higher at #IMBoulder…especially on the swim and run.

Whizzing through Hygiene on the first loop...Serious #bikelove on this course!!
Whizzing through Hygiene on the first loop…Serious #bikelove on this course!! Photo courtesy of my cousin Justin

-I am happy that I conquered a new distance by racing the Legend 100 on a very challenging day. I didn’t let the rough waters, wind and hills, or brutal heat and humidity prevent me from crossing the finish line.

Finishing the Legend 100 hand-in-hand with the Iron Hippie. Photo courtesy of Legend Endurance
Finishing the Legend 100 hand-in-hand with the Iron Hippie. Photo courtesy of Legend Endurance

3. What would I like to duplicate next year?

-I would like to continue training without a coach for 2016. I think I will be looking to have a coach again sometime in the future, but through self-coaching, I have learned to listen to my body more…take breaks when I need them, push harder when I can, and recover more wisely than I once did. When I had a coach, I did whatever was in Training Peaks without listening to what my body wanted and needed. When/if I go back to having a coach, I will need to keep the balance of listening to my coach and my body.

-I would like to maintain my cycling fitness. I have gotten so much stronger and faster on the bike, which I would love to reap the benefits of in 2016. With Ironman Wisconsin’s bike course being more technical than Ironman Boulder’s I can definitely benefit from carrying this cycling fitness into 2016!

Nailing my intervals on the trainer! #bikelove
Nailing my intervals on the trainer! #bikelove

-I incorporated more mental training and focus into my training and racing this year. I reaped rewards from this on race day when tough moments arose. I definitely want to continue to focus on mental training in 2016 and incorporate it into my training plan everyday instead of only the last month of training before a big race.

4. What frustrated or disappointed you the most this season?

-Ending up with hypnatremia again post IMBoulder. I thought I had my nutrition dialed in, but I was obviously wrong in thinking this…

This is post medical tent...I didn't feel so good.
This is post medical tent…I didn’t feel so good. Photo courtesy of S. Bierbaum

5. What do you not want to happen again next year?

-I want to avoid nutritional failure again as was mentioned in the previous question. Race day is always so much more enjoyable and rewarding when your nutrition is spot on.

-I also want to avoid injuries. I have been trying to overcome some muscle stiffness and imbalances post IMBoulder. I want to get to the injury free zone and remain there for 2016. I would love to be able to race a 70.3 distance event…hard…prior to Ironman Wisconsin in 2016!!

Dry needling to assist my healing...thanks to Dr. Chris at Team Chiropractic
Dry needling to assist my healing…thanks to Dr. Chris at Team Chiropractic

6. What did you learn by going through these experiences?

-I need to figure out where I can have a sweat test done to determine what electrolytes and in what quantities I sweat them out (not just water loss). This will allow me to better prevent hyponatremia. Knowing the quantities of the electrolytes that I sweat out will help me take in the proper doses of electrolytes for my body needs.

-I need to be sure to incorporate proper strength training, stretching, and foam rollering into my weekly schedule and post workouts so I don’t get injured again. In getting reacquainted with my mat, I have found that hot yoga helps me stretch my muscles deeper. This means I need to incorporate more hot yoga into my weekly training plan. It is a good thing I love hot yoga!!


7. What decisions did you make that were empowering for you?

-I felt empowered by incorporating more mental training into my race preparation for IMBoulder this year. I laid out goals, reasons for each goal, a visualization plan, and mantra for each part of my Ironman race day experience. On race day when things got tough, I had the tools in my toolbox to help me through those tough moments. I definitely reaped rewards for my mental training and focus on race day!!

Pre race planning
Pre race planning

8. What habits seemed to hold you back from achieving your potential?

-I did not incorporate enough recovery into my training. I need to incorporate more recovery techniques into my everyday training/workout routine so that I remain healthy and injury free. Foam rollering, ART, massage, hot yoga, and stretching need to be a part of my everyday training post workout.

-I need to overcome the fear of being uncomfortable. I am always afraid to leave it all out there…whether it is a training session or during a race. Where is that balance between being uncomfortable and able to successfully finish and being uncomfortable and failing? It is time for me to find out. It is time for me to get really uncomfortable and learn to feel truly comfortable with the uncomfortable!

It is time to start living my dream instead of living my fear!
It is time to start living my dream instead of living my fear!

9. What decisions should you make in order to have your best triathlon year ahead?

-I need to incorporate more recovery techniques into my everyday training plan to keep me healthy and injury free. I need to train smarter…while incorporating speed and hill workouts on the bike is important, I also need to focus on balance and not pushing hard with every workout. I want to improve my bike split at Ironman Wisconsin from my previous 2 IMWI experiences (in 2011 and 2014) and I believe training smarter will help me achieve this. It is time to bring back the speed!! I want to get my run faster, so I’ll need to incorporate more speed work on the run and practice running some of my longer runs at a faster pace than I have in the last few years. I also need to focus on believing in myself and my training more…not just the superficial believing, but the deep underneath the surface at the very core of my being believing! 🙂

My 2016 S.M.A.R.T. goals will come in a few weeks time. Stay tuned…

Have you looked backward so you can plan for the future? What did you learn?

2015 S.M.A.R.T. Goal for my “A” Race

Many people start the new year with “New Year’s Resolutions” and most of those people quit trying to keep these resolutions within the first month of the new year. According to the Huffington Post, only about 13% (1 in 8) of people who set New Year Resolutions successfully keep their resolutions for one year. This is why I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions…instead, I set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based) goals.

I evaluated my 2014 journey, which allowed me to reflect on successes and failures throughout the year. Being truthful with myself and my 2014 journey, has helped me set S.M.A.R.T. goals for my 2015 training and racing season.

Smart Goal

When setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, it is important that they are:

  1. Specific…having precise goals stated in terms of performance.
  2. Measurable…being able to determine if the goal has been accomplished.
  3. Attainable…setting high, but realistic and achievable goals.
  4. Relevant…setting a goal that is important to YOU and NOT because a friend or family member has a similar goal.
  5. Timely…having a specific time frame for completing the goal.

My “A” race for 2015 is Ironman Boulder on August 2. My time goal for this race is sub 14 hours…

Ironman Boulder

  • What does this mean for a time goal for each discipline of the race? Swim = 1:15-1:20 (I swam 1:21:52 in 2014 at Ironman Wisconsin); Bike = 7:00:00…or less (I biked 8:15:12 in 2014 and 7:56:58 in 2011 at Ironman Wisconsin); Run = 4:30:00-4:45:00 (I ran 5:15:32 in 2014 at Ironman Wisconsin)
  • Why do I have a sub 14 hour goal? While it would be awesome to set a new PR (and sub 14 hours would be a PR by over an hour), I really want to push my limits and see what I can actually do, even if it is at a higher altitude. I have BIG DREAMS and a sub 14 hour Ironman would get me one step closer to fulfilling these #BigDreams.      IMG_0973
  • What steps am I going to take to get there? I am going to focus most of my efforts on the bike to improve my bike strength. Incorporating more power focused workouts on the bike into my training plan will definitely help me build the bike strength I am seeking. I am also going to incorporate more brick runs off the bike to teach my legs to run strong when they are tired. I am going to follow a well laid out training plan making sure it includes proper recovery. I am going to continue to incorporate strength training into my training plan to prevent injuries. I am going to continue to incorporate mental training into my training plan so that I continue to teach myself to #believe in me, my abilities and my training.

I am expecting some challenges along the way…after all, it wouldn’t be an Ironman if there weren’t challenges. One of the biggest challenges we will encounter is going from an altitude of 956 feet in central Iowa to an altitude of 5430 feet in Boulder, Colorado. Thankfully, we have a plan to help diminish the effects such a drastic change in altitude can have on a person…we are going to arrive in Colorado on Saturday, July 11 and start at an altitude of just over 8,000 feet to acclimate for a few weeks. This will give us 3 full weeks to acclimate (as best we can) to the higher altitude before race day…who doesn’t love a 3 week vacation leading up to a big race?!?!?!?!

What is your “A” goal for 2015? Have you made this goal a S.M.A.R.T. goal?