Throughout your training and racing, it’s important not to forget about the mental side of your game.
Well planned race strategies, a strong belief in yourself and an unshakable confidence in your training will all contribute to achieving your goals.
This is a photo of me during the 1994 Hawaii Ironman World Championships. I was 40 years old and was making an unlikely comeback after taking 5 years off from racing.
Why had I taken time off? Life! My two sons had recently been born and I was fully absorbed in my family duties.
However in 1994 I was coming back, fresh off a strong summer training block of 6 weeks at higher elevation in Steamboat, Colorado. By mid-August I was back in Boulder for the final buildup to Kona.
My cycling on this newfangled superlight carbon frame felt sensational! Almost every time I would “time” myself on a climb or TT course, I seemed to get faster. My swim was as solid as ever, and my run seemed to be right on pace. I thought I was ready.
But there were many unknowns: I hadn’t raced in Kona for 5 years; I was 40 years old; and I didn’t really have a concept of the speed of the men’s pro field.
Were they WAY faster than me, or could I still be competitive? I’d soon find out.
During my training, I never allowed my deep internal faith in myself to waver. I’m talking about maintaining the unshakable certainty that I would succeed. There was never a doubt that the race would be as tough as ever and we’d all struggle at times, but I remained convinced that I could prevail on race day.
In this shot, I was stalking the leaders. I could see the motorcade ahead and, after about 15 miles of chasing, I realized that I was closing in on them. When I was within 200 yards of the leaders, I momentarily lost my concentration and just wanted to sail by Greg Welch! Reality had set in, the battle was on and the race was barely 2 hours old.
I felt magnificent throughout the bike, riding with the lead group. Greg and I were evenly matched on the climbs and flat sections. As we neared T2, my confidence quietly grew.
The day roared by.
Then, after dueling with Welchie until the Natural Energy Lab, he started to pull away for the final time.
I finished second overall – at 40 years old – just 4 minutes behind. Although I didn’t win, I knew that I’d given it my best.
Throughout the day, I knew that if I just kept the faith, I could pull it off. Now, I realize that this might sound a bit fluffy. I definitely struggled at times and occasionally felt my “flow state” lapse. But I always regrouped and refocused to maximize my capability emotionally and physically… returning to doing what I could do in that moment.