The 2016 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, was to be the highlight of my calendar racing year. All my races in 2016, were stepping-stones leading up into the event. I was in the best shape both physically and mentally possible…..well so I thought!
Looking back to that day now only 2 weeks ago (sorry for the delay in the report but I am not one to write just for the hell of it, I want it to have a meaning for future reference), I would now have to say that mentally I was not 100%. I could have done better by using my life experience…but to my inexperience, I didn’t play all my cards that I subconsciously knew I had. Ultimately, the lava fields won!
I guess you are now wondering what I mean and where this is leading? Well, I am one of these people who “can not sit still”. I am constantly listening and learning from all walks of life, whether it is friends, family, sponsors, the good old “Dr Google”, or even the environment!. I consider myself a quiet person at times, but not in a bad way, I just like to sit, listen, people watch – whatever you like to call it. I like to try to find the best attributes out of every one and everything I meet and take something on board which I can use for future reference.
BUT, come my very important day – being race day – I used very little of my cards from what I had learnt through life. I went back to being a “rookie” (someone who is new to the game, being triathlon) – completely unaware at the time. I had been given tools of the trade to compete against the best women in the world and I wasted the opportunity to shine. I became unsure of myself at critical moments when it mattered most – whether that was playing an attacking move or holding back to wait for the right moment to unleash. I should have just trusted myself…like I had done in previous training sessions over months leading into the event.
Now, the reason why I am talking openly about this is because of what triggered these thoughts. During my trip, I was given the opportunity to check out the Kerry Sports Facility in Manila en route to Hawaii. The facility had every thing you could think of to cater for people aspiring for a healthy lifestyle. From the latest gym equipment, to group training facilities including swimming pools and tennis courts – you name it, they had it!. But, what caught my eye was the basketball court (for those unaware, I played basketball at state and national level for almost 15 years prior to taking up triathlon). I had not picked up a basketball for over 5 years but within a few shots I was hitting numbers like I had never stopped!
Since then, I have been reflecting on those basketball years both good and bad and underpinning what made me so successful during that time. What comes to mind is that when I was playing, I laid it all on the line, using my sheer determination to make myself a better player and doing what ever I needed to help team to win. I was not afraid to miss a shot or even make a mistake as I knew I would fight defensively to get the ball back and hit the basket next time. I was also committed to put the extra time in training to make myself a better player. I also felt that if I didn’t give it my all both on and off the court I would be letting my team down – plus in my eyes less time playing on the court where it counted the most.
So back to the triathlon world, it has only now come to light that I need to take a step back and just race with sheer heart and determination like I did in my younger years. I need to stop worrying about what other people think and I need to believe in my capabilities and never give up. I also need to keep it simple – trust my intuition and use perceived exertion instead of following numbers all the time. Like my coach only recently said “play the player and not the board!”.
The next few months will be focusing on this element of my game. I have a great coach and a great team of people behind me whom I will use to take me to my next level. With races coming up in the next few weeks, there is no reason I can’t lay it all on the line and give myself a huge confidence booster heading into my next Ironman in early 2017. I have nothing to lose!