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Tri-Athlete Dede Griesbaur: 2020 Fitness Journey Part 2

A professional triathlete, Dede Griesbauer, has won multiple championships in her career. Before her career as a tri-athlete, Dede set multiple high school and college swim records and competed in the Olympic Swim Trials, where she narrowly missed a spot in the Barcelona Olympics. Starting her career first as an amateur and then going professional after two years, Dede has set multiple world records in Ultraman’s and Ironman Time Trials, making her one of the best in her field even amongst her male counterparts. Due to her extensive training demands, Dede needs to pay extra attention to her nutrition. Especially fueling her body with what it needs to recover. Dede fuels with none other than the best… Certified Piedmontese Beef. Check out Dede’s latest blog update on how she keeps up with her fitness in a COVID-19 era. To see the post previous to this, click here.

What positive thing do you have to say about the year 2020?

For many, it’s a year we wish never happened, but I remain confident that it’s a year we all will look back on and think it made us stronger.

The pandemic has been the major focus of the year; caused obvious illness, tragic death, and economic hardship. No one wants to own stock in cruise ships or airlines. Everyone wants to own stock in Clorox, not to mention hoard the products they make. The pandemic has fueled political fires and has increased divisiveness in our country. It’s brought to a halt, “life as usual” for all of us.

I’d written earlier about how the pandemic had instantly changed my job title from Professional Athlete to Professional Exerciser. It demanded a shift in mindset and a new approach to goal setting to get thru the year.

It’s now October and the year is winding down, yet the pandemic remains. So much focus has gone into getting through 2020, but who is to say this is all done once the calendar hits 2021? So where do we go from here?

I think for many, it’s a personal journey where steps have to be made at one’s own pace. Some might feel comfortable flying while others are still reluctant. Some are comfortable attending small gatherings with friends in accordance with CDC guidelines while others feel it’s too risky. Science is doing its best to offer guidance on what is “OK” and what is “not OK” but at the end of the day, it’s for each of us to decide our own tolerances. Just because someone, even someone from “science” says it’s OK, one has to keep their eyes on their own proverbial paper as we walk thru this unprecedented time and not leap simply because others have leapt.

I am a Professional Triathlete and for much of the year, races have been “on hold”, which is really just a fancy word for cancelled. Athletes were forced to find new, individualized goals. Chase training “PBs”. Shore up areas of weakness in our athletic armor. Make improvements in technique, aerodynamics, mental acuity, nutrition. For still others, it was an opportunity to just give the body some much needed rest.

In the past several weeks, however, a few races have managed to come back online. Some of them are “local” and in the coming weeks, there will be others that are rather large.

Now as athletes, we’re born to race. Yes, one has to enjoy the process and embrace the journey and all that, but at the end of the day, racing is life (not to mention livelihood). To that end, when even small races started to pop up, some athletes were quoted as saying “I’d wear a hazmat suit around a triathlon course if it meant I could race.”

Still, for others… not so much. One athlete had an opportunity to travel to the US to a big prize money race, but took to social media saying that the state where the race was taking place had 15x the death rate due to COVID as their entire home country and as such “sorry, folks….I’ll pass”.

I think the obvious lesson here is to take one’s eyes on one’s own paper. What’s great for one? Maybe not great for another. And for 2020? That ought to be OK.

As I, myself, look at racing opportunities for the balance of the year, I find myself somewhere between “hazmat suit” and “sorry folks, I’ll pass”. My heart wants to race desperately. I long to be in the midst of a heavy training block where everything hurts; where I limp out of bed in the morning in a world of hurt from the prior day’s training but secretly can’t wait to get into the business of smashing what’s on the schedule for today. I’ve studied some of the precautions that race organizers are taking and they seem sensible and “safe”. No guarantees, of course, but reasonable.

Yet my racing calendar for 2020 remains blank. Not because I don’t have a hazmat suit (I actually don’t but I’m sure with Amazon Prime, I could have one in a matter of 48 hours). And not because I feel racing is unnecessarily risky, depending on the logistics, travel, etc. I think there is “some” risk. But there is “some” risk in going to the grocery store. So the relative “risk” of racing I can balance in my head.

For me? I simply looked at the races available and realized the courses don’t suit me athletically at all. Going out and racing just to race, for me, after 17 years as a pro, doesn’t offer upside. I’ve got experience coming out of my ears. I don’t need more race experience. I’m also 50 years old now (another horror of 2020). So the upside of putting an Ironman in my body on a course with little strategic advantage for me athletically amounts to more risk than it’s worth, given all the other risks inherent to racing in this environment.

So while I miss racing desperately, and would be willing to don a hazmat suit for the opportunity to race? It has to be for the right opportunity to race. And for what is on offer? That’s just not in the cards for me.

It’s hard to open social media and see my peers out racing. But I know my time will come. And since good things come to those who wait? I’m waiting it out, with my own eyes on my own paper, for the racing opportunity that is right for me.

With a continued focus on consistent training, good work in the gym, and a healthy diet filled with good, iron-rich, protein-dense, Certified Piedmontese beef, when MY racing opportunity comes, I will be ready and better and stronger for it.

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