There are a lot of elements that make one a successful triathlete. For me, I am still trying to figure it out and put all the pieces of the puzzles together. I see triathlon similar to a detective trying to solve a crime – using clues from my body responding to training and gathering information from my coach, other athletes and on line resources. Over time, using all this information I will solve the puzzle and look forward to challenging the top athletes in this sport.
The last two races taught me one thing in particular. It is not necessarily who is the fittest and strongest who succeed but one who is able to rise above the uncontrollable elements thrown at them. Both races included either tough terrain and/or extreme weather conditions. To be mentally tough to fight though these conditions not only makes the race easier but puts you in good shape to be successful with what ever is thrown at you.
I travelled to Langkawi, Malaysia for my second Xterra event for the year. Racing such a tough event 3 weeks post Ironman was not ideal circumstances but for me it was a matter of just getting out and “blowing the cobwebs out!”. Mentally I felt I was ready to take on the challenge. Hot and humid conditions, brutal mountain climbs and descents on the bike and run were just some of the elements thrown at competitors.
My swim was reasonable but from then on I could feel something was not right. My mind was telling me to push harder but my body was thinking otherwise! It was a struggle just to maintain a good rhythm. Studies suggest it can take up to 3 weeks for the body to repair from an Ironman. As the body is repairing itself from such a tremendous effort, it puts systems in place to discourage your self from over exertion. This is what I was feeling. To me it wasn’t a surprise merely a test to see what the body to could do during these situations. Initially it was disappointing not being able to perform at my full potential. But there was no point getting upset about it. I just had to take it on the chin and move forward. Race aside, it was great to catch up with the Xterra family and my Aloha friends!
I had very little time to dwell on my performance in Malaysia as my energy and focus was then channelled into 70.3 Ironman Vietnam the following weekend. The city of Danang would be the host venue for the inaugural event and with Sunrise Events being the chief organiser, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed with the race festivities and proceedings. I was also fortunate enough to be involved with visiting a local neonatal intensive care unit. What I observed made me realise how lucky I am to have been brought up in a Western world with the opportunity to get up to date medical advice and treatments. What I witnessed was very confronting even being one who works in the medical industry. The doctors and nurses do such an amazing job with the limited resources they have and it was very rewarding to have the Ironman team donate a large amount of money to enable the unit to buy some necessary medical equipment.
Onto the race and after some thought, I decided to race without a watch and go completely on feel. With weather conditions expected to be hot and humid, I knew times would go out of the window and if I wore a watch, especially on the run, I would get frustrated and disappointed not being able to hit my normal race pace targets. This race was going to be about who could manage their body correctly both mentally and physically
I felt really comfortable in all 3 disciplines especially on the swim and the bike. The consistent training over recent months has mentally given me confidence to push harder and harder each time I step onto the racecourse. I am starting to get closer to the front-runners in this sport and I know that I have a lot more to give. My BMC time trial bike never missed a beat and I was able to ride a solid time with minimal exertion. Onto the run, I quickly consolidated 3rd place and hunted for the top two ladies. Unfortunately I was unable to bridge the gap so with 6km to go so decided to take in the race and enjoy the moment.
I am now back in Phuket recovered and ready to step up the training once again and get out of the comfort zone. I am a true believer that your limits are the only ones that you set personally. It is a matter of how much you are willing to suffer! I know mentally that it won’t be easy and I will also need to make sure physically that I will be up for the challenge. The second half of the year is set to be HUGE and I am super excited to see what I can achieve.
It is time to train and race smart and see where the ride will lead….
No excuses and no holding back!