Well, we all know that 2020 was a tough year. For some, it was very difficult with sick family members, lost businesses and jobs, social isolation, and more. Covid-19 was not something many of us ever planned for in our lifetime. Right as Covid-19 hit the US I was about to travel to Mexico for a 70.3. Without much knowledge about the virus or how the rest of the year would play out, I made a tough decision to stay home and not travel.
Personally, after that I went through so many different emotions as the new reality started to become difficult to deny or avoid. I found myself hoping it would just go away. In fact, I can honestly say that much of the end of March and all of April I was pretty paralyzed in my response to the changing world. I didn’t adapt as quickly as I wish I would have. I woke up every single day and surfed the various news outlets, hoping for a miracle cure, or a drastic drop in positive cases. I was resisting the idea that this new reality could actually happen.
When May rolled around and everything continued down the path of canceled events, no social gatherings, virtual school, and virtual work, I started to realize that if I didn’t make some changes to my training, my coaching, and my attitude, I would spend the rest of the pandemic unhappy and possibly losing everything I spent years to build. I also felt a huge sense of responsibility to my athletes. I needed to be supportive, realistic, and find ways to keep them focused on the controllable aspects of their life and fitness. I won’t go into all of the details of how I worked through that with my athletes, but I will say that it was highly individual. Some struggled, others stayed very motivated. In some ways, the ones I thought would handle it best had the hardest time. When you have 20hr/wk elite athletes struggling to get out of bed for a workout, it’s not always easy for them to admit their momentary weakness. As a coach it was a balance between leniency, understanding, and accountability. We all truly discovered what was at the core of our motivation in sport this year. If that was racing, you probably had some mental hurdles to overcome. In the end, most of PBC was able to cling to the lifestyle of being an endurance athlete and could see the bigger picture far down the road. 2020 was one of those roads where you feel like the destination is never getting closer…. but if you’re enjoying the drive, it doesn’t seem to matter as much. Turn up the music and set the cruise control.
At some point, with the help of Kitty, I decided to create something for my athletes that could not be taken away or canceled. That’s where the idea of the PBC Triple Crown was born. We created a 3 race Sprint Tri Series for Team PBC athletes, based on variations of my favorite Race Day Events Wisconsin Triathlon Series courses. These were small events, 10-15 athletes, and had well executed COVID-19 safety protocols.
FAKE MILLZ (originally the Wisconsin World Championships in Lake Mills, WI)
CORONA TRITERIUM (originally the Verona Triterium)
DEVILS CAKE (originally Devils Lake Tri)
The series was a success in that it was fun, we got to test ourselves, and nobody got sick. It was great to get a bit of that “race feeling” back and also create little rivalries amongst ourselves to get the competitive itch. The distances across these events were pretty similar, so it was also good to measure some improvement in a low pressure situation. Most of all, it was just nice to be amongst the team and see everyone smiling and enjoying triathlon in its purest form. All athletes got a T-shirt and hat at the final event to commemorate the series.
When it was all said and done, we still faced many more months of shut downs, social distancing, and canceled events. We saw a few races go off in Florida, but overall there was nothing reliable to train for and still no confidence that we were nearing a return to “normal” anytime soon. We remain resilient and focused on the big picture of what our journey holds in this sport. Everything that we do today will help us tomorrow. That doesn’t change, even if there is no date on the calendar to test ourselves in a race format.
I’m grateful to my athletes for staying so driven and adaptable during these tough times. As an athlete myself, I know it isn’t always easy to get up and work every day when you don’t really know exactly what you’re working towards. As a coach, I’m very fortunate to have a high retention and head into 2021 with close to a full roster.
The lesson here is that you always have to be open to change. The ability to adapt is ever important. Whether it’s in life, training, business, or racing. We have to be able to make changes as the things we can not control change. Speaking of change… stay tuned for some exciting new announcements from PBC in 2021.