> It’s 11:00 pm in Boulder. Race day is only 5 days away. I leave for the airport in 6 hours. I should be sleeping, but since my body is “used” to going to bed at midnight, it looks like it’s going to be a night with very little sleep for Doug. Figure I might as well write my “pre-Kona” entry.
First off: I know I’m not going to win this race. I have a 0% chance of winning. I probably won’t even be in the top-100. I’m too new to this sport, and I just don’t have the speed to be a podium contender… yet. There are some bad dudes who are gonna smoke me on Saturday. But that doesn’t mean this trip is pointless. Rather, it’s extremely valuable. I’m using this race as a “exploration mission”. I want to go out and scout this course and gain experience on the big island, so that when I am fast enough to be a contender, I’ll have the experience to take advantage of my speed.
Why do I need the experience? Because I’ve never raced at Kona. I’ve never biked through the winds on the Queen K, dealt with the heat radiating up from the lava fields, or been punished by the sun in the Energy Lab. Having said that, I have a pretty good idea of what my time is going to be. I won’t write it here, because I don’t want to look like an idiot if I’m wrong, but here’s the thing about Ironman – if you know what you’re doing, and if you’re honest with yourself, it’s pretty easy to predict what your performance will be. All I have to do is look back at past races and recent workouts, and make adjustments for the course at Hawaii (adjusting for wind, heat, course profile, elevation, etc..).
I have a very good idea of what my body can do right now. It’s a level of self-understanding that is very difficult to achieve, and can only be discovered with years of consistent, focused training. It also requires consistently testing the edges of what your body can do. Consider a metaphor – you don’t really learn how to handle a race car until you crash it a few times. Well, I’ve definitely “crashed” my body. There aren’t many scenarios I haven’t been through during a workout or race – bonking, dehydration, heat stress, shivering so bad I couldn’t steer my bike straight, strange aches and pains, diarrhea, vomiting, blurry vision, tunnel vision, cramping, blisters that just get worse with every step, caffeine crashes, getting hit by cars (3 times!), etc… You name it, I’ve put my body through it, and I always come out fine on the other end. All of it in the name of success on race day. Remember – Ironman is, above all else, a suffering contest. I’m no longer afraid of suffering. I’ve learned to embrace suffering, and that is 90% of what it takes to be a great Ironman competitor.
I’ve given up a lot to get to the starting line (weddings, relationships, a social life, money, a PhD, etc..). I hope it ends up being worth it.
until next time… keep training hard, and resting harder,