Ten days ago my wife Tarryn, son Oscar and I ventured west to a quaint little town called Busselton to race the annual Western Australian Ironman. This is a great event and continues to get better with help from the continued efforts of WTC who run the event, but mostly because of the culture created by a bunch of quirky tri geeks (myself included) and the beauty of Geographe bay. We are all there to achieve a common goal and that is to place ourselves well and truly out of our comfort zone and take the challenge of getting the absolute best out of ourselves under massive duress.
1600+ participants took the plunge into Geographe bay, some there to try and win the race, some qualify for kona, some beat a personal best, or just hear those sacred words "you are an ironman". I was there to achieve a top five or better finish. I had trained for this, it is a realistic goal and to cut a long story short I didn't achieve it. I finished 9th in a time of 8.54 and was out of the race after the bike ride. I swam average, started the bike well but tried to stay with a bunch of guys who were far better than me on the day and I paid the price of risking too much early. I was beaten physically and perhaps later on mentally finishing the last 60km at an effort that wouldn't even suffice for an easy training ride. I suffered despite feeling like I was doing everything within my power to ride at my goal pace. (Would I do this again? The short answer is yes! In order get what I expect out of myself I have to take risks, push myself to the brink and get through the other side, but to do this I need to develop my cycling further.) I then went about trying to salvage the race with a decent run. I did this until about the 30km mark, when the wheels fell of and my pace slowed significantly. My day in a nutshell swim 53min, bike 4hr57min, run 2nd 59min total 8hr 54min.
Now this brings me to the point of my blog, I had access to the best equipment through my fantastic sponsors, Trek bikes, Champion system clothing, Saucony runners, Ryders eyewear, Winners sports nutrition, Cecil Walker cycles and Nashypix. I had exceptional support from my awesome wife Tarryn, coach Kristian Mannietta, manager Dan from DTR. At the end of the day nothing was left to chance and I couldn't deliver my expectations on race day. It is now time to look at the whole process, analyse my performance with honesty and integrity, then do what is required to achieve what I know is possible.
You may be thinking I am being hard on myself but I must add that I am exceptionally grateful for the opportunity to race ironman, I still embraced the day and in 10+ years I will look back at all my Ironman performances and be proud. I still immensely enjoyed crossing the finish line, the sound of my 20 month old son yelling "Go Dad" at the top of his lungs, seeing my wife each lap of the bike and run, the joy of being introduced to the start line as a pro, burger and chips post race and the comaradarie amongst fellow athletes pre/post race. I still enjoyed hurting myself, pushing myself and wanting to give up. We had a great 9 days in WA and I cherish every moment I get to travel and race.
Driving to the airport on the way home I was listening to ABC national (showing my age) and the lead singer of Gotye was being interviewed. A week or so earlier I had watched what I thought was a great performance ‘live’ at the Aria music awards from Gotye. I was even imagining how good it must feel to be able to belt out a tune like that at the top of your lungs having your fans, peers etc looking on in ore. In his interview he spoke of how humbling that performance was, he found it incredibly difficult in such a big venue (he was not used to performing in such massive spaces). He listened to the performance the next day and was ‘embarrassed by what he knew was a poor performance’. Despite me the tone death musical enthusiast thinking it was incredible. He was objective and spoke of having a lot of work to do as an artist to be able to handle gigs in such venues. This reminded me of my feelings on the race a few days earlier. Several of my friends, family and colleagues could not understand how I could not be satisfied with my performance. Top 10, sub 9, sub 3hr marathon, "your kidding that's awesome". My good mate Beau Miles even dedicated a space on his blog to what he described as a “laypersons take on elite performance” http://www.beaumilesfilm.com/blog.php . I am grateful for the experience and am grateful for anyone of those around me who might be inspired by not only my performance but my dedication to the process. For me however, the minute I am satisfied with repeating the same performance over and over (my last four ironman's I have finished within a 4min window), stop challenging myself and ultimately tell myself to be content with a performance I know I can do a lot better than is the minute I should find a new challenge. Plus at the end of the day I just love to Swim, Bike and Run.