I thought I would start off my
“And coming down the chute, from
It’s still in my log book, and I remember it like it was yesterday. January 21st. It was my breaking point. I was still struggling with the disappointment of my 2006 season, and how poorly I raced Ironman
So it stood like that for quite a while. I questioned everything, my protocol, my bike position, and even my running shoe choice. Then I ran into a simple quote in an old article I had from Mark Allen which read, “Advise the athlete to look within, to really examine the aspects of ourselves that might be holding us back.” Whoa, you mean it’s me that’s holding me back from my greatest race performance? No way. It’s gotta be the shoes. It’s gotta be the bike. No way it could be me. Ok, it is me. I choose this. Ironman and triathlon in general is a lifestyle and a choice. We choose this, daily. For me to do my best, I need to choose this. To “back it up” daily with solid workouts, solid nutrition, and solid focus. Do I choose this? Do I really want this, or do I just say it because it sounds cool? Nope, I really want this. I will back up my workouts daily, and be genuinely committed to going as fast as I can.
After that, training was flawless. Between JQ and KSP (Jared Quoyeser and Ken St. Pe’), they beat me up thoroughly on my long bike rides. I fell in love with running again, and every Friday was still a Gurzi party. I was more pleasant to be around when I wasn’t training because I finally realized that the ability to train for Ironman was a gift, and if it was so terrible, I could quit anytime I wanted to. It was my goal to arrive at the
So there we were on the beach start to Ironman, and Tim Thomas looks at me with a concerned look. “What’s it gonna be like out there?” I told him, “There’s about to be a fight, and a swim will break out.” Right after I said that, the cannon went off. I took off so hard that I’m pretty sure the first 200 meters of that swim would have got me a spot at the Olympic swim trials. To say I was swimming scared was an understatement. Switching to the new 2XU wetsuit was a great move, and made swimming like a frightened otter much easier. (Thanks Gayla! www.tri-zone.com check ‘em out!) I guess everyone had the same idea as I did though, because the thrashing, bumping and pulling commenced as soon as I found any semblance of a swimming rhythm. Speaking of the swim, Ironman gave the option for people to not do the swim because the water was a bit white capped. Sorry, but this was the only disappointment of my entire experience. It’s Ironman. 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike, 26.2 run. It’s not easy. Swim is too rough? It’s your responsibility as a business (Hear that Graham Fraser?) to either screen athletes before they enter to insure their safety, or pick a venue with a body of water that won’t be rough. Or maybe don’t cram 2200 people in a venue that should really only hold 1500. Ok, I’m off my soapbox. In short, this is what I learned about the swim: the water is cold, people can’t swim too straight and swimming with the current is way more fun than swimming against it.
I tried to be fast in transition, but it just feels so good to sit down! So I got all my gear, ran to my favorite bike painted like a BBQ pit, and took off down the road. The first hour of the bike was just chaos! The one cool thing about the whole race was that I out swam a pro. Granted, he passed me on the bike like I had my brake on, but it was still cool nonetheless. Who’d thought I’d ever out swim people? Back to the race, everyone around me was riding like it was the bike leg of Cajunman. The first 20-25 miles of the bike leg is through the city, and flat. With the stiff wind at our backs, we were flying. To say the bike course was scenic is an understatement. Yes, it was harder than
Out of the tent and onto the run is always a weird feeling, no matter how many races you’ve done. I have read many places that you should arrive off the bike fresh for the marathon. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing fresh about doing an hour swim, then a 112 mile bike ride. How about changing it to “arrive at the marathon with the ability to aerobically run?” Or “Arrive at the run not wanting sit on the transition chair and skim through War and Peace?” That’s more like it. Anyway, the marathon was mostly a blur, as my focus was to stay positive mentally, and commit to a pace. That pace was ’s, and it was going well for a while. The run course is much like the bike course, in that it is pristine pavement, beautiful scenery, and packed with spectators. I can’t emphasize enough how much this town really loves their race. As the miles clicked off, focus began to fade, and so did my pace. I went back to my commitment, and all the hard days that made this race possible. No way I was gonna bag or slow down after coming this far. I’ll save the drama of the pain, tears, digging deep, and the cramps. But as I came down that finishing chute, it was still as magical as the first time in ’04.
It’s more than Mike Reilly saying your name, or the people chocked full in the stands. It’s the commitment you made to seeing this race through, and pushing yourself further than you ever thought possible. It’s learning the difference between real commitment, and just running your mouth about commitment, then backing down whenever things get tough. It’s about the people who help you along your journey, and ask nothing in return. It’s learning about yourself, and who you are as a person. It’s about your unconditional support network, and them sharing in your success, as they’ve been as much a part of the day as you have. It’s these wonderful people, the knowledge you gain, and the experiences along the way that make this such a grand adventure.
So what does all this babble mean? Well, its quite simple really. Success is in the eyes of the beholder. I still don’t have my ticket to Kona, but I’ve gone faster than I’ve ever went. And that’s a victory for me. Once I removed attaching satisfaction to results, and started attaching satisfaction to the process, I realized how much success I’ve really achieved. And commitment to the work and lifestyle for future events will be a little easier, and definitely more enjoyable. Speaking of the future, I’m already looking forward training again with my crew, swimming with my crazy dog, and watching the sunrise while running down
ONe’s self, while collecting
New experiences along the way.
Cheesy? Maybe. Memorable? Absolutely.
Thanks for reading….