November is not an obvious time to be writing my first blog of 2015 but better late than never. Kona was a little over 5 weeks ago so I will start there and who knows, maybe I’ll get around to writing another in 2015.
This year was my seventh year racing on the Big Island. For the past few years it has been my big focus of the year. Every year has it’s own challenges but generally I consider myself lucky and for various reasons I felt like this year was one of my most challenging. It is ironic that the foot injury I got during Ironman Texas was probably the best thing that happened to me in terms of my Kona preparation. It sucked to not run for 10 weeks but being forced onto the side lines was the catalyst to showing me that I still really wanted that Ironman World Championship title. I’d maybe gotten a little derailed early on in the year but the injury allowed me to take a step back and realize this Kona goal of mine was one I was ready to really fight for it.
So fast forward to Kona. Kona week now has a familiar rhythm to it for me. I generally know what commitments I have on which day, and the type of sessions I will be doing. I like that familiarity. Training is pretty light and having Julie out there with Tim and I was a real help. I felt almost calm….ha! A constant battle for me usually: at least until the gun goes off!!
So, the race. I feel like I could write two blogs about my race. The one with my feelings in the immediate aftermath of the race; and then another now, having had a few weeks to reflect on things.
The feelings as I crossed the line are in some ways complex and in some ways very simple.
– I felt happy. I’m always happy when I can stop running at the end of an Ironman! Happy too that I was back on the podium. Happy to see Brett waiting for me at the finish line.
– There was relief too. My year up to October was pretty mediocre by my standards and I was relieved things came good for Kona. I was relieved too that after a shaky start to my day I came through strong in the second half of the race.
– I felt appreciation. The past couple of years I have perhaps felt weighed down by the pressure I put on myself and as a result I forgot to appreciate where I was and what I was doing. 2015 was different: I felt like I appreciated being in Kona, racing the best in the world. That sounds a little cliched but sod it: it’s true!
Five weeks later and I have had time to think about my race, analyze how I executed the day, think about how I could have made different decisions at key moments. I had difficulty pin pointing what I was feeling. Was it disappointment? Dissatisfaction? Despondency? For a while it felt a bit like all of those but none really fitted the bill. Of course the initial high wouldn’t last forever. I’ve realized that what I was feeling was the return of that little itch. That itch is what drives me to be a better athlete. Unless you have the almost mythical “perfect race” there will always be ifs and buts and questions…the itch. It’s turning these ifs and buts into positive lessons, into motivators to go back and get it right that motivates me to be better and that’s a good thing…in racing and in life.
Thank you, Merci, Danke…..
Finally, now is the perfect time for some thank yous. The appreciation I felt during the race goes out to the people who help me daily to do this: too many to mention – I hope I’ve said my thanks in person!
To my brilliant sponsors who go the extra mile to make me fast and support that goes way beyond keeping me kitted out with the best equipment: Cervelo, ENVE, ROKA, PowerBar, Endura, Team Bravo, The Island House, Oakley, ISM, XLab, Ceramic Speed.
To coach Julie Dibens for getting me set for the big one and dealing with all my wee foibles. To the JD crew who made training fun filled this year (I put that down to the British humor 😉 ). Thanks for getting me to Kona healthy go to, amongst others, John Ball at Maximum Mobility who dealt with my last minute niggles as I trained in AZ and kept me calm; and to Lawrence Van Lingen for his fly in visits to Boulder.
Finally, to friends and family and to the guy who gets to deal with the highs and the less high moments: Brett – couldn’t do it without you x (oh and Maggiiiiiiiiieeeeeee for your puppy kisses)