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Ironman # 42 done and still learning

5 May 2016 No Comment

It’s only four days since I completed my forty second Ironman race at Port Macquarie. The club/squad produced some really good performances, most came away seeing the areas where they could have improved, but that’s why this sport is so addictive. We can always see where we could improve. Right from Simon who finished in 8.36 and sixth place down some of our first timers who walked away having learned a lot.

Rolling start – Now that the mass starts have been replaced with the “rolling start” the race is much more “civilised” in the swim, but it’s produced a different set of tactics for the athletes racing for age group places or Hawaii Qualification. The race has become more of a time trial. I learned a valuable lesson in the Sunshine Coast 70.3 race last September. I lost 1st place in my category by 14sec to a guy who was taking time off me while I was eating water melon in the recovery area. When I turned at the last turn on the run there was no-one near old enough to be in my cat to be seen, but he had started a fair way behind me. I really coasted in without reaching for 5th gear.

So my strategy at Port had to be “race hard from the swim start to the run finish”, a simple, but painful plan. I figured that if someone wanted the single Kona spot on offer, he’d have to be prepared to do the same to take it off me.  My strategy worked, I won, but by the tightest margin I have had in an Ironman race to date.

I lecture my athletes on the importance of fast efficient transitions, fortunately I lead by example. The athlete who came 2nd to me last Sunday was 7min slower in the swim, but he then took 6min off me on the bike. He then took another 3min off me on the run, and I was giving 100%. He is technically a better athlete over this distance. His times should have him 2min in front of me.

When we look at T1 times, I took 2.40 and he took 4.31 – then T2 times I took 2.49 and he took 4.22 – I won by 42 seconds on my transitions. A win is a win. I accepted my Kona Qualification.

All of my squad athletes finished, including the five first timers, we all learned lessons on the day.

Lessons learned

* A rolling start Ironman is a time trial

* Evaluate your race by what percentage of the time you were fully focussed, you must be focussed through your transitions. Ironman races are 70% mental.

* Race all the way – often when the body is screaming at you to have a little walk, taking that walk will not hurt any less – it just prolongs the misery.

* Don’t be distracted, the wind affects you more mentally than physically. Often in tough conditions many athletes are distracted by the conditions.

* Be grateful for the opportunity to be able to be racing. When we speak to friends who are no longer able to participate in this great sport, they almost always wish they were still able to do it. An attitude of gratitude is a powerful mindset to take into a mentally demanding event.

* Be prepared to handle anything that comes up, without emotion. Simply do the job, if something happens, handle it. Don’t waste any energy imagining what could go wrong, just deal with it when it does.

* Feel courageous, be courageous, use affirmations which tap into your courage. Courage is not doing what will make you look good to others. True courage is what you do for yourself, doing what’s “the right thing to do”. In a really long tough endurance event, if we go hard enough, we’re forced to dig into our own version of courage, be ready for this moment.

* Be mentally fresh. Arrive at the race destination early enough to be relaxed and rested mentally before race day. If you’re still handling work problems, or relationship issues, or are still carrying stress from a generally stressful life, you will not be able to “tap into” that special mental state, where you can totally focus and will handle whatever comes up on race day. Don’t underestimate the importance of mental freshness.

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