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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ironman Wisconsin 2012 - Keepin' the P

I never really wanted to write up a RR from IMWI after the race, and I really don’t plan do so. If you were wondering how my race went it played out something like this…”perfect swim, well paced even bike, on top of nutrition all day, great first 10k of run, started to settle into pace and suddenly I lost it….mentally, and it never came back.” I had some high hopes (performance-wise) and fell very short of those goals. Ironman can be very cruel as it can really strip you down to your bare bones, expose you and any weaknesses you have, and really humble you all at the same time. Ironman is hard, really friggin' hard, and that is exactly why we all race it. I want to write my thoughts after the race and what I learned instead of a report of my race. I think there is much more value in that for the future then what I was eating at mile 65, and I hope everyone can take something away from my experiences this year as well.
            “Keep the perspective”, this was a motto at an old job I had a few summers ago and it has become a staple in my life since. Moments after crossing the line and feeling very empty and unsatisfied I was given a great reminder of what I had just accomplished that day under my own power. Sometimes when you race with 2500 other athletes that are in some of the best peak physical shape they have ever been in, you lose sight of just how far you carried your body in one day and what you have done. Above all else, finishing an Ironman no matter who you are is very hard to do and I am proud of that.
            I have to look at the positives that came out of the race as well. I had a perfect race until 124 miles in, maybe next time it can be to 130 miles, then 135, and then 140.6. I still PR’d the race, and improved my swim/bike/run, and transition as well.  I also held back and paced myself better then I ever have, we all know I struggle with this. I learned that I had all the physical components to achieve my goals, but my mental fortitude is what really needs to be worked on. That is something I have bypassed long enough. Most importantly I had a blast swimming, biking, and running all around Madison, the city that I love so much, with my friends and family. That is something that I will cherish forever.  I learned so much about this sport, the distance, and everything in between in my build up to Ironman that it would be foolish to even think this race was a failure. It would only be a failure if I gave up on my dreams in this sport and threw in the towel….not gonna happen.
            So where did I come up short? Well I think the grind of my summer and me going into the race fatigued already played a role. Maybe the poorly executed race week might have done it as well. Maybe I stretched myself a bit too thin race weekend by volunteering Friday and setting back my entire schedule a bit. But most importantly I was just not prepared mentally and tried to fake my way through it. You cannot fake your way through an Ironman. My head wasn’t in the best spot and my focus was not 100% and when that happens Ironman will give you a stark reminder that you need that focus.
            In retrospect, my fate at Ironman may have been decided well before I jumped into Lake Monona that morning. The decision I made back in May to come to Madison and bounce around the city (literally) day in and day out might have costed me some valuable recovery time. Or maybe it was the 6 weddings I had in the 2 months leading up to Ironman, all of which I was enjoying to the wee hours of the morning. Recovery, or instead, sleep is something that I never really got enough of this year, and in this sport you really can never get too much sleep, message noted. I went through a bad breakup as well that may have distracted me far too much and taken a lot of my mental energy away from me. My diet wasn't the best either, but when it was good in the spring my training was going really well. t have absolutely no regrets and am looking forward to the future. 
            This is why Ironman is so hard, it’s not just the physical nature of all the hours spent training it’s the mental component as well. I learned that to another degree this year and will build off it in the future. You can always learn a lot more in your shortcomings then your successes and that is what I did this year. 
            I will have another go at Ironman again sometime down the road, but for now I must keep the perspective and remind myself that being a 2x Ironman finisher is pretty frickin' cool.
            Finally a few thanks to give. First to my mother and father for being the best supporters I could ever ask for. To my sister for chasing my around all day and giving me that great advice at the finish line. To my coach Blake for getting me to the start line in my best physical shape ever, and calming me down constantly all summer. A big thank you too all of my teammates on BBMC, talk about a special group of athletes.  Thanks to all that came out spectated and volunteered and made the day that much easier and fun for me. And of course congrats to everyone that raced on September 9th, I was able to witness some amazing performances from everyone, great inspiration for next time!


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