Today was one of those days.

I woke up early to drive to Corvallis to watch Jesse compete in his first triathlon of 2010. The event name, “Beaver Freezer,” tells you all you need to know about the weather. It was fun being Jesse’s support crew, or his “little elf” as he took to calling me, but man it was nerve-wracking watching him race.

I scarfed Panda Express with sympathy hunger for the 500 people who had just competed while I watched their award ceremony. Jesse won overall, setting an age group record, so we got…wait for it…a million dollars! Then we woke up from our dream and got a pottery fruit bowl inscribed with the event name instead!

Two years ago, when Jesse first dabbled in triathlon, he didn’t really have a committed coach, and I had to play that role sometimes. Now he’s all set on that front, so our drive home didn’t involve much post-event analysis or major problem solving on my part. I just got to be the supportive wife, and I loved it.

My workout was pushed to the afternoon, on my own, since I missed morning practice to go to Corvallis. My coach said he might show up to watch if he had spare time, but to get on with it no matter what. I expected to be alone. The session was meant to be quite tough too…2 sets of 5 x 2 minutes on, 30 seconds recovery. The “on” was to be equivalent to 5:00 mile pace on the track, except I was to run the workout on a soggy wood chip trail. Of course I got my period an hour before warming up, which explained the overwhelming feeling of doodie in the 8 hours preceding. That workout would be a burner on the greatest of days, today not being one of them.

Mark Rowland

Mark "Rowls" Rowland

Well, when I feel crappy, I lower the expectations and focus on the character benefits and toughness I will gain by doing my best and persevering. And then sometimes, like today, I drop out after the 2nd interval with a list of excuses.
Today, however, right as I finished building a Supreme Court case of evidence in support of my decision to quit the session, Mark (my coach) comes out of the bushes with his dog Max to watch me workout. I was like a kid caught right before he steels candy from the mini mart…I acted nonchalant and put the snickers back on the shelf.
“Oh hi coach…I was feeling crappy and just thinking about how to best finish this session like the determined, committed athlete I am.”

And so it went.

He adjusted the recoveries to 1 minute (how generous!) and told me to crack on for 8 in a row. And just like that, I did it. Something about having him there to watch–it got me through one of my toughest days, a day I DEFINITELY would have bagged had I been alone.

For the record, the paces were 5:02-5:08 on the trail. Not too shabby for a workout that almost didn’t happen. Just goes to show: you always have more in you than you think; sometimes it just takes someone else to help bring it to the surface.