This weekend was chock full of activities that were greatly enriched by the presence of others. While I enjoy my time biking, running and swimming alone, I had done that a lot last week. This weekend's adventures were not only fun by nature, but fun because of who was there.
This is what I can take away from this weekend. These are nothing new or very profound, but a nice reminder...
1. When you bring others along, you can celebrate their achievement just like they were your own. Saturday was a riot of running activity with 20-30 runners taking off for a circumnavigation of the Horsetooth Reservoir (followed by a really great BBQ at Alex's and Ean's). The routes ranged from 9 miles (which wasn't really a circumnavigation, but still a great run) to more than 34 miles. It was my first circumnavigation and I chose the route that was originally slated to be 23 miles, but we opted out of one big hill so we came in around 21.5... The group I ran with for the last 10 miles included two people who were running their longest distances ever. One was adding an additional 10 miles to his longest run. It was amazing to be there and watch them support one another, build brain calluses and amaze themselves. I thrived vicariously through their experience. Can't do that when you are alone~
2. When we are with others, we go further. Today was a 34 mile road ride. The route we took is roughly the route that my friend will have to complete when she does her first triathlon in June. There were four of us and we headed south to Loveland in a fully diheartening wind. It came at us at an angle, so there was no drafting. We just had to put our heads down and grind it out for 10 miles. For a couple of folks, this was the first ride of the season, and it was no piece of cake. Once away from that road, the ride was beautiful and fun. As we finished up, one rider declared that, if it wasn't for us, she would have turned around after a mile of that wind. The crew got her through to the pretty spots, and she would have missed out if she had to get through it on her own (and I don't blame her!).
3. Having other people there let's you see yourself in a different light. This is probably the most important one. Again this week, I ended up pretty far in the back of the pack at group runs. I have been frustrated by my performance, and I don't feel like I have improved at all. At the beginning of yesterday's run, the group dropped me. I ran on very tired legs and had to work hard to keep myself going. The beautiful weather and scenery helped me keep a positive attitude, but I was really lagging behind. Soaking in the sun and enjoying cold beer after the run, we all chatted about our experiences from the day. "You looked strong", "I couldn't have made it without you." "You were a great cheerleader even though I did want to punch you sometimes. Thanks." "Wow, you are a much stronger runner now than you were a few months ago." "I am really glad you joined the gang," Hearing things like this, and having folks who remind me of where I started gives me the motivation to keep going. I don't feel like I have gotten any better. Improvement is incremental and sometimes hard to see from the inside. But others see it, and that allows me to give myself a break.
So, this is recovery week. I will not do "speed" work in the pool, on the bike or at the track, nor will I do strength work. I will run Towers on Thursday, but I will just take it as easy as I can.
Next weekend is 24 Hours of Utah. I am running it on an "extreme" relay team. It will be a blast, and I will let you know how it goes.