I signed up not only because it is supposed to be fun, but what happens on race day makes you think on your feet and figure stuff out on the fly. Good training for life. And my fictional adopted son Dr. Jake Brown talked about how great he thought it would be to be an Ironman. While he was talking about it, I took his phone, navigated to the CDA registration page and returned his phone for him to complete the registration. I felt like I was on the hook to show up myself. Then my buddies started to doggie pile on the event, so I had no choice!
Training started building months ago without a training plan. I was not very serious and missed or did half-hearted workouts. I was quite sure I had this event in the bag! Podium spot, here I come!
My leg got messed up a month before the event by pushing hard to cram that last little bit to make up for lost time. That caused me to miss or cut back on my runs. But I thought since I had a strong base and lots of experience, I will be able to pull a miracle out of my hat on race day.
In the car I go with the logical of the crowd, Mark Casey. The RTB camaraderie is great. It is fun meeting new people I knew only on Strava and seeing the familiar faces like the Satko’s. The weather forecast looked perfect. The water temp perfect! All systems are go. I am all pumped up! Let’s go right now!
I do love race day at Ironman events. The announcers reminding and instructing us on what to do. The excitement of body marking. Photos with friends. Cranking AC/DC tunes. Watching others stress out while you know you have it in the bag because you did these many times before (if you have).
The swim. Sucks as usual. So what else is new. One of these days I really should take this swimming stuff more seriously.
The bike, my strong suit! Other people are passing me. What is up with that? This is not normal. My leg hurts. Hmm. My butt hurts. Hmm. 10 minutes slower than anticipated. I am beginning to think maybe I made a mistake somewhere along the line.
The Run. As soon as I got off my bike and took a few steps I knew I was in trouble. Try as I may, my leg just would not work. I got out of transition OK and then watched 17 of my fellow age groupers pass me up as I posted my lowest time at that distance by almost an hour.
The thinking started at about mile 3. The negative side of my thoughts kept telling me I am getting too old to do this stuff. This hurts so bad it is not worth it. I am not going to do this anymore. This is not fun. I used to be a great athlete that almost always made it on the podium to now roadkill. I have become the guy I dreaded I would be and used to make fun of.
Controlling my negative emotions became a real challenge. At some point I remembered a good healthy dose of humility is good for me! I just don’t like it.
I forced myself into changing my thought process. I told myself I was fortunate to be out there on a great day! I told myself I will make it to the finish line. I should be proud of myself as others will be. I told me to keep moving ahead and just don’t quit! Be patient.
I actually started a little chant telling myself “I can do this. Do the best you can. Just keep moving” Then my pathetic walk turned into a pathetic jog simply by changing my mind.
Then I learned my lesson for the day at the hands of a brutal mental self-beating.
When I was smarter and took wise instruction, my mentors (Sam McComb and Bob Kaye) told me the more I raced the better I would get. I would dig a little deeper each time I showed up and incrementally I would accomplish the grandiose! They were right. When I did that that is exactly what happened.
To get faster they said you must race more. Every time you show up you will push a bit harder and do a little better. Listen more. Train more. Buy more cool toys. Think, plan and execute more. Make a total commitment and jump in with both feet!
There are some limitations, but what you put in is what you will get out. There are no miracles that magically show up on race day.
It is unlikely that anybody will place high without putting the time, determination, energy, commitment and support of others. If you don’t do that, don’t have high placement expectations and do expect to suffer double on the occasional race day. That is OK too.
I did not do what I should have done but simply went through the motions. The result was I got what I deserved, and I should not complain about it.
So, big fella within, what are you going to do about that? Sign up and go again and press forward on forging your dreams and do what you love to do or cave into life’s pressure and change course?
I found it very hard accept “Congratulations” and “Well done!” when I thought my performance sucked. (What a jerk!) Mindset is the only thing that makes it a good day or a bad day. They are all good days, but some are better than others! It is all a matter of perspective.
A few other thoughts and quotes that sank into me.
A sign in T2 “Anything is possible”
At the athlete briefing “We all want you to finish. But for that to happen you must keep moving forward and do not quit” and “Thank a volunteer. They sacrificed their day off so you can race”
“It is Ironman, not Ironbaby. It is supposed to be hard”
“Getting old sucks”
And most important at run mile 10 when I was done with my pity party, I got passed by the last of my fellow age groupers to pass me who probably knew what was going on. “You should be really grateful you are here. Some can’t and want to. Most our age would not have the courage to put on a tri kit much less show up and attempt this great feat. They are at home on the couch”