For 5 months this year, I’ve been training for a single race, the Kemah Olympic Triathlon, and this past weekend I completed it! Woohoo! It was scheduled to be run in April, however, due to some poor planning and lack of knowledge of TX DOT’s paving schedule, it was rescheduled only 2 weeks before the event. Yes, 2 weeks before the race, they moved the date 6 months later. I had been training for it for about 2.5 months at that point, and I was pretty frustrated to say the least. I looked for a similar race nearby so my training wouldn’t go to waste and I was able to sign up for the Texasman Olympic Triathlon just north of Dallas. While I was able to complete both races, they both had unexpected issues pop up that I had to work around. It reminded me that whether you’re planning for a race, for FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early), FFLC (Fully Funded Lifestyle Change), or anything else solid preparation is good, but being able to deal with adversity is key!
We’re almost a year away from starting our FFLC journey and we feel pretty solid with all of our planning. Since we don’t know for sure how that planning aligns with reality, we are going to spend 2018 test driving our FFLC budget and see if we hit any unexpected bumps in the road, like I have in my races. Like race prep, training is essential to make sure you’re ready, but the mental aspect accounts for a lot as well.
Training and Preparation Is Tough
The Kemah triathlon was going to be my first Olympic distance triathlon. Those races typically consist of a 1500m (0.93 mile) swim, 40 km (24.8 mile) bike ride and 10 km (6.2 mile) run. I’d run a Sprint triathlon in the Fall and was thinking the longer distance would be more fun. I found what looked like a fun race, signed up and started training a few months ahead of time. My training schedule consisted of swimming twice a week, biking 40-60 min twice a week and typically, running twice a week as well.
You can understand why I was so frustrated finding out 2 weeks before the Kemah race that it wasn’t happening. I’d put a lot of effort into getting ready for this. We’re hoping a similar thing doesn’t happen with our FFLC planning. Years of effort could be delayed if the bear market shows up right before we relocate out to Canyon Lake. Maybe we “train”/save another year and our plan gets delayed like my race. There are so many things out of our control, regardless of how well we’ve planned.
The Race Goes On
I started looking into other races near the same time and found the Texasman triathlon. It was only a month later, so I just had to continue my training another 3 weeks to be ready for it. What I wasn’t expecting was adverse weather the day of the race.
The night before the race, a cold front blew in and temperatures dropped from the 80’s to upper 40’s with 20-25 mph sustained winds and rain. When I got up that morning, I put on my race gear, loaded the bike in the car and tried to find anything to stay warm. I hadn’t brought anything long sleeved, so I wore the 4 t-shirts I brought, I layered some sweat bands over my ears as DIY ear muffs and went to check into transition. At transition, I decided I’d put on my wet suit to block the wind on my legs, and even though it’s sleeveless it was still the warmest thing I had to wear.
I spent the next hour walking around trying to stay warm, because the winds had not calmed down. It was 48 degrees Fahrenheit with sustained winds of 20-25 mph and gusts above that speed. They altered the swim course because of the white caps and winds, so instead of a half mile out and back, we were going to stay closer to shore and do 3 modified laps of the sprint course. Yes, we had to swim ~600m get out, run about 100 yards down the beach, then jump back in and swim another lap. It was crazy…
It was a rough race but I finished it, and I even beat my target time of 3:30 hrs.
Can We Prepare For What’s Out of Our Control?
Money talks are some of the biggest areas of friction in our relationship and they can tend to lead to not so pleasant conversations. The last 5 years or so, we haven’t to have too many of them because our budget is set up so that we don’t have to worry about money as a stressor. It’s really fortunate, but as such, we haven’t had much practice dealing with those sticky topics.
Like the cold weather and high winds, there are things we won’t be able to control. Instead of freezing weather, it could be the bear market that is going to happen at some point. Are we going to be able to adapt, communicate and handle the adversity well or will we fall apart in shambles? I’d hope we will communicate well and pull together to adjust our budgets as needed, but this test run will give us a nice practice for those uncomfortable situations.
Finally, The “Real” Race!
Fast forward to last weekend when I was finally able to race in the Kemah triathlon. The weather was great, winds were calm, and it was the calmest water they’d seen in the last few years. All the conditions were set up perfectly for a good fast race. We took a steamboat from Kemah out to 1500 m offshore and then we would swim back to shore. The swim sounded so exciting, it was the main reason I’d signed up for this race. No loops, no getting out of the water, just jump in and swim for shore.
When the race started, I jumped in the water and began swimming and it went great. I had a decent time and the tides weren’t very strong, but strong enough to be noticeable. The bike went great as well and I even averaged 18.2 mph. I was on track to beat my last time by at least 10 minutes! Then I got to the run…
Running? Not So Much This Time…
When I’d loaded up my water bottles that morning at 4:30am, I put electrolyte tabs in them. I thought they were caffeine free, but no, no they weren’t. It was 92 F that day, and I was sweating pretty heavily, as per usual for me. I knew staying hydrated was key, but I didn’t want to finish both bottles of electrolytes and get jacked up on caffeine. So, I tried to balance staying hydrated without too much caffeine intake and somewhere along the way, I lost my balance.
I started the run, but 0.5 miles into it I knew this was going to be a rough one because something just didn’t feel right. Too much caffeine, not enough water, probably a combination of both, but I did something I hate doing in races, I had to walk… Gah!!! I walked for a bit and then started running jogging until I got to the first water station at 1 mile. There I downed 3 cups of water and left with a cup of ice. OMG, the ice was so delicious. I jogged and ate 1 piece of ice at a time and by the time I got to mile 2, I was feeling amazingly better. I never got into full/typical running pace that I’m used to but that’s okay.
When I heard my body telling me the run wasn’t going to go as fast as I was hoping, I didn’t get upset or defeated or even down on myself for a stupid caffeine mistake. Nope, I changed attitude, adjusted expectations and kept going. Do I like alternating walking and running jogging? No, but that’s what I had to do to finish, so that’s what I did. I even shaved 3 minutes off from my Texasman race this Spring.
Where Are the Hidden Surprises?
With our FFLC test drive next year, we will see if there are things in our control, like my caffeine OD/dehydration snafu, that we will find in our plan. We may have some of those built into our budget plans and not realize it yet because we’re not putting it into practice. We may think we’ve got caffeine free water, so to speak and unknowingly be spiking our budget with who knows what.
Next year will be out trial phase, sort of like a test run for our budget, relationship, and more. We’ll get to see how we handle being on a tighter budget, if money talks are still a source of friction, and figure out what measures we need to take before we make the big change. Maybe we realize that this will be a cakewalk, and maybe we’ll go down in flames and find out we need to adjust more than we thought. Either way, it will be a good stress test for our FFLC plan.
Have you stress tested anything with your plans? Do you plan to just jump in with your plans and “start swimming”? Is there anything you could suggest we could do along with our year long budget test drive?