My last race before my biggest event ever was the Santa Barbara Long Course Tri. Instead of my typical race report, this will be a more pep-talky journal entry for me to look back to whenever I slip these final 6 weeks before October 8th - Kona. This will be as honest I can, and generally would be a private text doc I might write for myself to refer to, but since I've got this blog set up, why not?
In short, SB did not go as I planned - after a very aggressive swim and bike (which I should mention I didn't even post "good" times) I suffered through the run so badly that 10 miles felt like an Ironman marathon. This made me go haywire mentally during the race, and for a bit after, but then the very valuable (and some quite obvious) epiphanies hit me.
Here we go, in 3rd person no less.
• Remember how/why you got involved in the sport. You do this to honor your father. Honoring him is not necessarily going fast. It's not even just doing your best, it's enjoying the journey. Efforts should be judged by the whole, not just the finish time.
• Even though you look "the part" with your sexy tri-bike, race wheels and aero helmet you're a little different a lot of the typical "tri people." While you train hard and work hard, you are out there to have fun and self fulfillment. While chasing PR's and time is ok sometimes, the motivation for Kona needs to be to take in as much of this once in a lifetime experience as possible. The worst case scenario would be to be disappointed in your performance in Kona or not even finish trying to be too bold and go fast.
• Relating to the above...take it all in. If you REALLY want to do another Ironman someday for time you'll have any number of races to choose from...except Kona. This is the race to go slow and try to milk every second. It's an Ironman - there's no way to not "push" yourself like mad. 140.6 is a long way to go - slow or fast. Going slow will enable you to take it in and avoid disappointment.
• Also similar, throw those time goals away! Sub 12 = Magic Day, Sub 13 = Great Day, etc. As long as you finish in under 17 hours it's an A+ effort, a magic day - it's KONA! The cutoff is your new time goal. It's just too long a long day to have a "ticking clock," and you know you're trained to not even be near the cutoff time barring anything crazy, so enjoy the once in a lifetime opportunity without worrying about a PR, etc.
There's of course more to all of this, but I thought I'd get the most important stuff out. In all of this endurance sports stuff it's very easy to get caught up in numbers - and I love that part of it. I will probably continue to train with my Garmin but the numbers are not going to relate as much to my Kona performance now. It will be what it will be.
In the spirit of all of this I just order a GoPro HD Hero to document the race. I have no bad memories carrying a camera in my first marathon, just the great memories, so that should add a great dimension to the race. Just a few weeks to go...I'm scared, but quite excited with my new lease on life!