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Juan Hawaii Ironman race report

Good days, bad days… regardless which way it went you must learn from both.  Good days learnings are sweet, bad days are deeply imprinted in your mind.   

There’s something inspiring about Triathlon that keeps me gravitating towards it.  The concept of “triad” goes beyond the obvious Swim-Bike-Run triad to a subtler Physical-Mental-Spiritual triad.

You can think of yourself as three coexisting bodies; the physical body, the mental body (emotions and rational thinking) and the spiritual body.  If one wants to “evolve”, balance between the three bodies must be found.  The same goes for triathlon and racing; if one wants to be a great triathlete, balance between swim-bike-run must be found, and, if one wants to have a great race, balance between body-mind-spirit must be found.

To be fair my first try at Kona wasn’t a bad day but it was loaded with deeply imprinted learnings.  The most important: trust yourself.  Sweet learnings from IM Cairns earlier this year, followed with deeply imprinted learnings 4 months later at IM Kona.

I was physically prepared for Kona; tired from back to back Cairns and Kona training blocks, not at my top (as I was for Cairns), but still physically strong and ready to race.  Fine job by Foz designing a training block that allowed me a short recovery after Cairns and slowly but steadily got me back to race shape.

Turned out my mind wasn’t race ready.  And it wasn’t ready long before the race.  At some point during the training block my self-confidence turned in to fear.  Fear of what if, what if I can’t’ make it to the starting line? What if I can’t finish it? What if this is my only chance at Kona? 

That mental unbalance made me do some silly rookie mistakes, like the basic triathlon 101 don’t try new things you haven’t train at race day or don’t change your eating habits the week before the race, and more subtler mistakes like overhydrate during the bike leg.  And that fear somaticized into an upset tummy.

The swim was a good one, I’m always nervous before any open water so nothing new.  The water was glassy that day, so it was easy to sight and keep a good stroke cadence.  Not strong currents, so it was a slightly quicker swim on the way out.  T1 was long, I had to stop at the loo.

After 80k on the bike I was overhydrated.  All the terror stories about how hot is in Kona and getting dehydrate pushed me to the other extreme and I overhydrate.  After the second stop at the loo during the bike I decided that the only thing left to do was trying to enjoy the rest of the day.

Thus, I did, or at least I tried.  12k in the run I hit the wall, (after the 80k my stomach couldn’t process any nutrition) I was depleted.  For the first time ever, I had to stop during a run.  I couldn’t run.  When you consider yourself a good runner experiencing, for the first time, the impossibility of running is devastating.

And for the first time too, I considered quitting.  Luckily for me my spirit was there and where my physical body and my mind dropped out, my spirit picked up, lifted me and pushed me one step at a time.  That’s all that I needed, one step at a time and sooner or later I’ll make it to the finish line. So, I walked slowly, then jogged, stopped again, walked again, jogged, and so on till I make it to the finish line.

I also got by with a little help from my friends…  Is ironic how at your weakest moment your real inner strength emerges.  But not only my spirit was there for me, also my family and squad mates were there for me.  Like a relay race they took turns to lead me to the finish line; first Lawrence, then Jo and Pete Coombe, then Laura, then Jan and Pete Dean.  Each one of them ran with me during the toughest parts of the run.  I’ll be forever grateful, and I owe you forever.  Thanks.

So, did I learn anything from my first Kona experience?  Was it a sweet learning or a deeply imprinted learning?

Triathlon is a way to get to the deepest meditation state, a state where is just you and your inner self, then you realise what you are made of.  I realise that I’m strong, that I must trust myself no matter what. 

I also realise how powerful the mind can be.  I didn’t have the race I could have been able to have not because it was a hard day, a tough course or I got sick.  I didn’t because my mind was weak and all I could think during the race was “what if I can’t finish” hence my mind predisposed me to not finish.  Writing “I didn’t have the race I wanted” would be wrong, because that was the race my mind had prepared for me.  

I guess it was a sweet deeply imprinted learning.  I learnt that you can only give what the body has to offer, don’t fear the circumstances, trust yourself, and if things didn’t work out today, you’ll live another day and get another try at it.

I’ll go back to Kona because I’m strong athlete, I’ll go back to Kona because Foz is a great coach and together we’ll find a way to be back, I’ll go back to Kona because I have Laura, my family, and my squad mates supporting me.  I’ll go back to Kona and next time I’ll be balanced.

Thanks Foz, Laura (is just amazing how you put up with me), my family and squad mates.

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