I have been tossing and turning over whether I should write this blog talking about the above theme or just write the same old post race recap. Thus, I apologise for the delay. But, if I didn’t write my true feelings I have once again failed myself and taken the easy way out! So here goes…
The last two races I have competed in have had different circumstances and a major turn of events for me personally. Now for some who follow my social media, you may think differently. On paper, my results weren’t bad (finishing 3rd and 4th respectively) but it’s what happened during these events that has had a huge impact on my mindset racing and training at the top level.
Ironman Australia was to be my first “A” race of 2016. Heading into the event, I felt I was in great fitness shape thanks to a great preparation from my coach Jurgen Zack. In saying that though I felt I was also in the unknown – I really didn’t know how I could really perform. The week leading into the event I started to question myself mentally (how fast can I really go? Am I really this good? Have I done enough?). Knowing that this race could impact my chances of returning to the Ironman World Championships, I knew I had to also race smart, as it could be a long season chasing qualification points otherwise!
Now as said, finishing 3rd place overall was not a bad result, but it was the way I went about it which frustrated me. At the end of the day it may have not changed my result but mentally it would have. I let the fear of failure get the better of me. From the half waypoint in the swim, I hesitated. Instead of just trusting my form and my instincts I let uncontrollable events dictate my race. I tried to turn things around on the bike leg but a low point at about 70km into the ride also hampered my chances. From then on, it was a matter of trying to regroup mentally and not give up. I settled into my race and focused on what I could control which worked. Luckily for me, the back end of my race was uneventful but the two small mistakes within the first 3 hours of my race put me out of contention for challenging the top 2 spots.
Moving forward, I had 6 days to physically recover and mentally prepare for my next race, 70.3 Ironman Vietnam. Now, from some people, all I would hear – “You have got be crazy! How are you going to pull a half ironman off after racing a full distance Ironman just one week before?” Well lets just say, when you have raced multi day events like I have (For example, The Australian Four Day Off-road motorcycling Enduro) where you race up to 8 hours a day on unforgiving terrain, pushing your body to the absolute limit where everything in your body hurts (you may even break a rib or two on day two of the event) and then the race does not finish until you have changed a set of tyres, fixed any mechanical problems, and may even have to push your bike back into the pits for the next day of racing,…you can now see my above Ironman scenario was a absolute breeze! I just mentally had to get it together and get it done.
And to conclude, that is what I did… I got it done! I didn’t let personal pressure or other athletes get the better of me, I just focused on what I could control and believed in myself. I felt like that 12-year-old child playing basketball back in the day whom never worried about the fear of failure, just kept believing that I would never miss a goal and would never let an opponent beat me. I also pulled off one of my fastest bike times riding completely solo!
Now, don’t get me wrong, there will be times that I will ultimately fail, but this is when I need to turn it around and see it from a positive light. For example, in my recent swim session, I pushed myself to failure where my upper body just had enough (like reaching fatigue in a weights session). But instead of mentally saying to myself “I have had enough” I turned it around, changed my mindset, and pulled off one of my fastest 300m swims in the final repetition.
So the last two races may not have been the best results on paper, but are ones that have been the most influential on my racing career to date. With more experience, knowledge and self-belief, it will just be a matter of time when I will find the ultimate personal success!
Thanks for reading!