Triathlon training and races are much more about life than just racing and performance. Life lessons are learned with each step. The longer the course and harsher the conditions, the more grueling each step becomes and consequently deepens each lesson. That is why I became a different person when I crossed the finish line at IRONMAN Lake Tahoe 2013 and why Eagleman was no different in gathering experiences and lessons that can be applied throughout life.
This particular race had a conversation with me…It went something like this:
Eagleman: So..you think you can just arrive and think it’s only going to be a flat and fast course and a little warm? Forget that, here you go. 95 degrees and 85% humidity, wind, current and an 8:12am wave start. Yes, that means you are going to have a bunch of people ahead of you. you call them “live buoys, don’t you!”
Me: Hi race…ha, yes…live buoys, my favorite. NOT! and actually, I think i can just toe the line with rather little training over the last 7 weeks.
Eagleman: Never take me lightly. Never. You will feel my might. You will see people suffer and collapse today. You will receive unexpected gifts. Consider them, from the bottom of my heart, for you! So you can grow, be challenged and see what you are made up of.
Me: Bring it on race. Show me what you got.
Eagleman: enjoying your slow swim? Yeah, those currents, just so that you stay in the water longer. I won’t let you get to your bike just yet. Drink up, have another wave.
Me: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Tautness, cadence, high elbows, feel the connection, keep your head down. Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, sight, stroke, stroke, stroke, sight. Dolphin dive, push, get to your bike. GO!
Eagleman: have some wind! You need to up your watts.
Me: Shut up race, this is my time. My bike and I. There is no space for you, not here. Go away.
Eagleman: hows this for a challenging run experience? Feeling hot yet? hows that abdomen of yours. Cramps huh. Yeah, you aren’t breathing right. You are not going to shake this. Not today. So get comfortable in your discomfort.
Me: F$%^…seriously Race? This is rough….I’m feeling really hot, I can’t run, my abdomen hurts too much. I have no Shadow. Race give me a little shade at least. Ambulance? Sirens? Again?
Eagleman: not planning on it.
Me: What if I quit now, why am I doing this? Focus on form, remember Matt’s words. Arm pits, thumbs, cadence, think of Mary. Keep the cadence! Keep your focus, she said the run would be mentally challenging. This is it. Why do I even bother with these run speeds? I am a joke, this is ridiculous. I am not made for this.
Eagleman:There we go, THAT is what I wanted. Quit, go ahead. You can probably go into one of those houses and have a cold beer and cool off. I am sure the residents would understand and offer.
Me: I just want to get out of this heat. My skin is burning, who knows how badly I will get sunburned. I am having my slowest race yet, this is miserable…I want to get out of this heat. This is not right. Look at the people in the ambulance. Another siren? WTF??
Eagleman: excellent. Everything is going to plan. Another one, and another one is biting the dust. You think its only 95 degrees? Its a felt 120 and 99% humidity actually…
Me: Is that so race? THIS is what you wanted? athletes dropping like flies? 80% of people walking? Getting completely dehydrated to the point of collapse? Well, you won’t get me today, not ever. And if I run only two mail boxes, and walk two more, and run another two. I will control what I can, that is my form, my focus, cooling my body, and my mental position on this f%##* hard experience right now.
Eagleman: how badly do you want it?
Me: I am here shuffling, aren’t I???? What more do you want?
Eagleman: I will not rest until you surrender.
Me: Not ever. I want all of it. This is my battle, and I will come out on top. Regardless where my journey ends, but I will not stop until I witness that hard earned end. I will not quit.
Eagleman: well done, we WILL meet again.
So that sums up race day for me. We turn a little crazy out there, but that is to be expected.
I am realizing I have a lot to work to do with breathing as I think my diaphragm cramps up when I am running at race effort, which is not good. My limiter this time was the cramps and not my fitness, strength or endurance.
I feel content with myself that I got myself out to Eagleman and kept a positive mindset for most of the race. I am currently going through the toughest phase of opening up a business and my stress and focus is certainly on turning INTENTIO into a success. But still being able to say “ I am going to do this to the best of my current ability” is a key factor in the journey that lies up ahead. Whatever that journey is, giving your all and keeping a positive mindset even through the darkest of times is key for coming out on top.
Onward and upward!
To give you an idea of what my last 7 weeks before the race were and what I was going into the race with:
For those who are visual: RED: Missed, Yellow: kind of completed, Green: completed as planned: