Here in Busselton it’s 35c outside though we’re five days from race day I find myself the least well prepared for any Ironman I’ve done. Over the 10+ years I’ve been competing at Triathlon I would say I’ve been a robust, or perhaps lucky, triathlete. Each race I’ve started I’ve arrived at the start line knowing there’s decent preparation under my belt and my performance will reflect the training I’ve been willing and able to do. Where performances have not been as I would have hoped it can always be explained by lack of preparation which invariably has been due to lack of motivation. In other words, any disappointed was my own fault.
That was until now.
After Ironman Wales I was super motivated. That race gave all the signs that I could be in personal best shape for Ironman Western Australia. I managed my recovery well and quickly. My annual cold struck right on cue at the change of the seasons and lasted, as usual, precisely a week. There followed a couple of weeks great build including my biggest run week in many years, before I got hit by another illness. This lingered on a full two weeks with zeros in my training diary. Then with stupid enthusiasm my first session back was a 2.5hr run hill repeat session (bonkers I know) which resulted in a niggly trigger point that prevented any serious bike and run training right through till now.
So November rather than being my biggest month of the year was the smallest and left me rethinking my goals for the race. I’ve never felt such frustration leading in to a race before and made me empathise with, my fellow columnist, Rachel on getting a chest infection ahead of Kona. For me this was small beans really, it is just a hobby. However, the goal of going to a fast course like Busselton was definitely to get a PB and hopefully have a shot at sub 9 hours.
A change of goal was in order but more immediately was deciding what would motivate me to do the best thing day to day for my performance in Australia. It really brought home that race goals just don’t get me out the door or get me to focus on good choices. It’s just not immediate enough. The best thing I could do towards my race performance, apart from my exercises, was to keep right on top of my diet. Don’t put on weight and keep lean. The race several weeks ahead just wasn’t enough to help me make those good minute-by-minute decisions. Clearly for me it is all about the process. The penny dropped. This is why when I’m training well everything else clicks in to place but when I’m not I make poor choices.
This realisation was almost like a weight removed. Perhaps the race wasn’t as important as I thought it was. Realising the real fun of this whole game comes from the training help me put it in perspective. This meant I should do what was best to recover for the long term rather than to try and eek out Kona qualification at Busselton. I relaxed, pulled out of the latest beer ride, threw myself in to swimming and stopped worrying about how fit I’d be for my race. If I had to miss sessions to get better then so be it.
That has left me wondering what to aim at this coming weekend. My friend, Alex, suggested trying to race to fitness. It sounds great but I’m just not sure how fit I am right now. There is still a chance that I won’t be able to run and I’m ready to pull out of my first race if I feel it’s doing more harm than good. I’m here to enjoy the sun and the good friends I’m staying with. I’ve had a drink (occasionally two) every night so far. I’m enjoying it. I’m training, far harder than you really should this close to a race. I’m also nodding politely every time someone tells me how I may well surprise myself. All the training I’ve done this year and for years before will count for something. For the first time I’ll be fully rested. I smile and give positive mutterings but I don’t believe, they don’t know just how little I’ve done. That said, in my heart there is something that is wondering “perhaps?”