In less than two months, I’m going to be participating in and finishing my 2nd Ironman. There are no guarantees of course but I choose to believe I will finish.
One thing I’ve really tried to balance is my expectation for the day. What is that perfect balance of wanting and striving to do better than you did the time before while still keeping in mind that this is a long, long day and anything can happen?
I’ve been crunching numbers (of course) and have started narrowing in on about an hour range I think I’ll finish in. I’ve taken into consideration different scenarios and I’m very pleased with this range I’m looking at because it has me finishing in times I never imagined I would or could finish in. It’s exciting because this range is one I feel is very realistic…assuming the day goes my way. I also like that it still leaves me room to improve. I keep saying this will likely be my last Ironman but I can’t say that with any level of certainty. The truth is, I love training. I love pushing myself. I love seeing improvements. But whether or not this is my last Ironman…I don’t know. That’s a post for another day.
When you’re training for an Ironman, you have lots of time to think during your workouts (not during swim workouts though b/c during those workouts, I’m just trying to focus on having better form). On my ride this weekend, I found myself thinking about IMTX and my goals. I thought about what I would need to do during each leg to meet those goals. Then I started to think about what might go wrong. I didn’t think about this in a negative way though…more of a “how will I handle this situation” kind of way. I like to be prepared and I do think you need to think about how you will react in a difficult situation. I had lots of practice with situations like that during my first Ironman but now, I’ve been more fortunate. I have had a number of races go the way I hoped and overall, my training has been awesome. I haven’t had as many stumbling blocks this go round. That’s how I came to the whole “balance” issue.
It’s important to have the very best expectations for a race (for anything for that matter). If you go into a situation thinking you will fail, you certainly will. However, if you go into a race with a specific time goal and don’t achieve it, will you be disappointed? More importantly, will you view the race as a failure? I mean, really? If you finish an Ironman, it is not a failure…it’s a huge success! To finish an Ironman means you have survived training. It means you raced all day long and made it! It doesn’t matter if you finished in 13 hours or 17 hours….you ARE an Ironman. And don’t get me started on whether or not you share your goal with others? Oh geez!
So where does that leave me? Up until now, I wasn’t really sure. My goals for Saturday, May 18th are simple (drum roll please): (1) Execute my race. (2) Finish my race. (3) Improve upon IMTX 2011. (4) Be happy with my race. I can control one thing on race day…me. Yes, I can have a range in which I would like to finish but the truth is, that range only works if hundreds of other things go right on that day. And of those hundreds of things, I am the boss of only ONE. If all goes well and if I am healthy come race day, my finish time will not start with a 15.
I do this for fun. I do this to be healthy. I’m not trying to win my age group. I’m not trying to beat anyone. I am so blessed that I’ve been given a body that has the ability to train like a crazy woman and participate in races that most have no desire to tackle. How lucky am I to be able to get up on a Saturday morning and decide to run up to Market Street just because I can? How lucky am I to live in a place where I can hop on my bike and inside of an hour, be enjoying the great outdoors (with car smog, honking horns and all)?
I don’t have this balancing act mastered yet. There will be hundreds of times between today and May 18th that I will go back & forth. One minute I’m going to be on top of the world talking to Keith or Ana about how I’m totally going to crush this thing and have a huge PR. The next minute I’m going to come plummeting to Earth, asking if I can really finish this race. I will love the bike one day and will hate it the next. I will wonder how in the world I’m going to run a marathon after riding. I am going to have a day where I could run forever and never want to stop. And I can promise you with just as much certainty that there will be a day where I can’t hit my groove and I wonder what pipe I was smoking when I signed up for this suffer-fest. That’s what makes this journey so cool though! The ups & downs you go through and then always bouncing back. You realize how tough you are. It’s such a cool feeling!
So there you go. I think I just figured out my little balancing act. Happy training!!!