Tuesday, June 13, 2006


So I've had a few days after the race to try and quantify a few things. Here's where I am, in no particular order:

• It's not the misdirection that's really bothering me about this race. That sucks, but I'm over it. It's how I handled it. That I allowed something - anything - in the heat of a moment to influence my race strategy. That is SUCH a stupid, naive, silly, pointless thing to do, and I feel like I should've been beyond that. I told Amy this morning that I feel a little like I missed the winning free throws at the end of the game or something. That when it came time to put up or shut up, I choked. And I'm usually, in competition and in life, pretty good under pressure. I'm really frustrated with myself about that.

• It's not lost on me how I am perpetuating the thing with my struggle over this. That when it happened, I needed to just move on and forget about it. And here I am...needing to move on and forget about it. This taps into the OCD perfectionist in me, as well as the competitor. Listen, I don't have unreasonable expectations of myself. I know my strengths and my weaknesses, I know what I am and am not reasonably capable of. And I know when I could have done more, and when I could have done nothing more. I'm not beating myself up about this for some lack of perspective. I'm having a hard time loosening up about this, and I know I need to.

• It's hardly the end of the world. Don't get the impression that I've lost all perspective here. There are many things about the race that are encouraging in light of Ironman: My swim was pretty solid, my bike was - excluding the drama - really solid, and even with all the drama my run went better than it could have. And I still finished some 20 minutes ahead of last year's time...give me back my 10-12 minutes and that's even better. That's all good, and I do need to be more positive about those things, I know.

• There are legitimate concerns about the bigger picture from this race. My nutrition broke down. My mental toughness broke down, and ultimately A + B = my body broke down some, too. In as much, yes, that everything I do before Ironman is sort of meant for things like that to happen, so I can experience and learn and understand them, I have a limited number of rehearsals before the real deal, and they need to be as quality as they can be. They can't just be playgrounds for folly - I do need to be able to start putting things together a bit. At this point no race is unimportant.

• That said - it's still 3 months out from the race. This wasn't a dress rehearsal, as much as maybe I wish it could have seemed to be. There's plenty of time. I need to settle down a little bit.

• It certainly could've been worse. I read a race report from Escape from Alcatraz where this dude hit a pothole descending at 40mph and is lucky to be alive.

• Of course it's better this - and "this" is the mental and nutritional breakdown - happened now rather than in September. And I have much to learn from an experience like this, and can and should and will. All part of the process.

• Last thing, and an important one: When I was younger, there was a particular summer where I golfed a lot. And I was lucky enough to golf a lot with my Dad, who was a pretty decent golfer. And he could hit the ball a long damn way. Sometimes I outdrove him, sometimes I hit it about as far as he did, and usually he outdrove me, by a lot. He always chipped better, always putted better. He was a better, more experienced, and ulimately more gifted golfer than probably I could ever be. Anyway, by midsummer I started to kind of slump, and my game got worse and worse. And everytime I went out there I'd be nervous that it would go worse than the last time. And finally I was out there one evening and was just sucking it up, and was really frustrated. I was swearing and tossing my stuff around, getting really angry - which of course just perpetuated my crappy play. Finally my Dad just kind of said, on a lovely long-shadowed Tuesday evening at the 8th green, settle down. Look around. It's a beautiful night. You're out golfing. You're with your ol' Dad. What's to be so worked up about? He was right, and it was how he approached the game, too. For as solid as he was, he was never some freakshow competitor. Never cut throat. Always, always he was having fun. And I took that to heart, and never again treated golf like I did it for a living. I can't think of the last time I got truly upset on the golf course. Amy said to me yesterday that "this is supposed to be fun." I know it may sound otherwise, but that's not part of the equation. It is fun. It was fun. A lot of fun. Kids playing in puddles please don't call me in for dinner I don't want to miss any of this fun. And if you've ever been in a heated basketball game, or lost by one point in a game, or thought you'd win a tennis match only to get beat - you know that you still had fun. That the pain and heartache and frustration, they're part of the whole experience, and ultimately make the successess that much richer and more rewarding. The expecations I have on myself are fair, and it's up to me alone to live up to those expectations. When I don't, it gives me cause for pause and in this case frustration. And I have to problem solve it, and analyze it, and work my way around it until it makes some sense, I can develop a strategy, and either redefine my expectations or my efforts. And that's what I'm doing here. But yeah. It's fun.

So: Where to go from here? According to my race schedule I only have one more race - an Olympic distance - before Ironman. I think I need at least one, maybe two more scrimmages before gameday, so I'm looking at that. As it is, I'm going to be training all next week in Wisconsin, and then I have business in Chicago next Friday. There happens to be another Half Iron distance near Green Bay on Sunday the 25th, which is about 2 hours from Madison. I'm thinking while I'm out there I might take advantage...I haven't decided yet. July is the Lifetime Fitness Olympic distance, and then I may or may not look for a Sprint or Olympic in early August...we'll see. I might just as well spend those final 6 weeks in diligent training, but we'll see after Lifetime how sharp my race-day skills seem to be. Mentally, I need maybe a few more days with this last race to sort it out, and then I think I'll be done with it. So. I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

Michael Anderson said...

So much of what you say here is true. Especially that it should be fun and that it could have been worse. And that goes for many many things in life. I think the spacing of the challenges you've faced have been almost as carefully designed as your training. Think how terrible it would have been if all the problems had happened to you in your first couple Triathlons: Heat, flat tire, poor nutrition, misdirections, forgotten equipment, etc. How discouraging that would have been! Maybe you would have stopped right there and moved on to crocheting tea cozies. Yet think also how terrible it would be if you entered the Ironman having not dealt with something like the mental discipline to stay detached when someone else frustrates you. The disappointment would have been all the greater. It seems to me you're entirely on track and excelling. This Half Ironman Triathlon is just another mile marker to pass on the way. You're an outstanding athlete and will continue to do even Greater. I've no doubts.

Good luck and God bless!