By Catie Lancaster:
2014 was going to be my year to “tri.” I literally rang in the New Year on my bike—I toasted with Nuun.
Catie Ready to rock and roll…at Augusta 2013
The catch? I was about to embark on my third year of medical school—typically the first full-time clinical year. It’s been an amazing year. I’ve had the privilege of interacting with patients on a daily basis who remind me why I’m doing this in the first place. But it also wasn’t quite the triathlon season I was dreaming up during that late-night trainer session on December 31, 2013.
Through trial and error (mostly error), I came to the realization that I couldn’t be the medical student I wanted to be, and the dedicated triathlete, and a good friend, and a …. well, you get the point. I live in awe of the triathletes I know who balance all of that, and then some. But for me, it wasn’t sustainable and I learned a tough lesson about trade-offs. And yet, despite it not being the season I had hoped for, I managed to have some fun, work up a sweat, and finish a few races.
Catie studying while spending some time on the trainer - 2014
And so, without further ado, and with apologies for the long introduction, my recap:
In March, I started my first rotation. It included a week of 13-hour nighttime shifts. I immediately asked Coach Andy (McKeegan) for a break from scheduled training and pretty much ran in whatever zone, whenever I felt like it—just a little different from my type A, turn-everything-green-in-Training-Peaks-self of 2013.
Soon after, in April, I kicked off the season with the Early Bird Sprint Triathlon, hosted at UGA. The swim was tough for me—not shocking since I’d been in the pool exactly once in the month preceding the race—and Andy had me use his Power Meter on the bike for the first time. A little race FTP test, if you will. I thought I was going to collapse for most of the run and celebrated my finish by napping all afternoon.
Catie on the Podium at the Early Bird Sprint
May brought the Peachtree City International Distance Tri. This was an especially enjoyable race with all of the Team Podium members out on the course. I was having a mediocre swim and bike, but felt great on the run… until my lack of training caught up to me and both quads cramped with about 4 minutes left in the race. Not a great time to go for a little walk and watch everyone else kick to the finish.
Catie with her post-race bling
I made the mistake of failing to schedule any races for June and July—resulting in a lackadaisical attitude towards training that looked absolutely nothing like training. The swim-bike-run bug was missing. I even dabbled in Pure Barre for about a month, which resulted in a stronger core but a pretty dismal cardio base—and a new appreciation for working out to Madonna.
Come August, about a week out from the race, I signed up for the Acworth Women’s Sprint Triathlon. My older brother was in town and spectated. Maybe it was his presence, but I raced hard—and better—than I’d raced all season. I definitely wasn’t in top shape—far from it—but, for the first time that year, I gave it my all and was proud of my performance.
Giving her all resulted in a first place age group finish for Catie
I rode the high from that race back to Andy and announced I wanted to train seriously for a 5k. He, ever the patient coach, set me up with a full TrainingPeaks calendar of workouts that I actually pretty much completed, and in September I PR’ed in the 5k at the East Atlanta Village 5k.
At that point, I decided to call it a “season.”
I’m not especially proud of how I raced—or, more importantly, trained—in 2014, but if I take another step back and look at my year as a whole, I’m pretty thrilled with how it turned out. I now know—or think I know—what I want to do with my career, and have a whole new set of goals as a result. Triathlon is amazing. The sport, and the incredible community that comes with it, gave me so much in 2013—structure, friendship, and fitness, to name just a few. I’m not ready to say goodbye quite yet, but I also know my priorities have shifted dramatically.
And so, I’m really not sure what 2015 is going to look like… but I do know that I’m signed up for a May marathon, my bike is on the trainer and in semi-regular use and I’ve been perusing the internet for races in my free time.