Last week, I got a call from the folks at Ironman, confirming a slot for me to race at the Steelhead 70.3 1/2 Ironman on July 31st.
I was excited for the opportunity to participate in this great event, I did the very first one and it has been several years since I have been back. Only after I hung up it hit me, "Oh my God, I have two weeks to get ready for a 1/2 Ironman! I am going to get the crap kicked out of me!"
I could feel that familiar big race anxiety creeping up my spine, my shoulders getting tight and my stomach begin to churn, "I'm a dead man."
My first instinct was to get in touch with 5 my coach Heather Gollnick. Heather is a 5 time Ironman winner and has been working with me all year, getting me ready for my 500 miles of racing and her race the Rev3. Triathlon in Sandusky, Ohio. Deep down, I wanted Heather to tell me that this was a bad idea and I should scratch, instead I heard "this is great! There's no better way to train for a race than by racing, how do you feel about it?" Was Heather's response.
I wanted to say, "I want my security blanket and a tub of Starbucks Java Chip ice cream." However, I broke it down for her. " My swim is pretty good, I have been working with local coach Mary Bradbury and we have it dialed in. The bike, I will be OK, I have been riding a lot and though I am not going to break any records, I will survive. The run is going to snap my legs off, I am going to fall to pieces, it's going to suck."
Again, I was expecting Heather to give me an out clause, but what I got was "You're right, you are going to suck at the run if that's how you think." Wha? What is she talking about, was my first reaction, then Heather continued," You are the most self deprecating guy I know, you spend all day helping guys like Dan (Cubicle Dad) focus on the positive, but then you beat yourself up. If you think negative, you will be negative, if you focus on all of the positive things you have accomplished, you are going to be great, you may even surprise yourself."
I tried to remind Heather that I am 42, have had 5 knee surgeries, and up until 7 months ago, I was recovering from a broken foot. " That's great, I am 40, I am smarter, wiser and know more than I did when I was younger. You know your body and how to make it work, instead of thinking about all your injuries and how they have slowed you down, you need to think about the fact that you are able to be out here at all, that you have come back time and time again, and you will finish this race and many more to come."
Heather's 40? Man she's hot, was my first thought, then I got back to the original message, and she was right, 100% right. My first 1/2 IM, I finished in 5:24, I was a part time single dad, with an easy job and lots of time on my hands. Training and napping were a part of my routine. Now I am married, with a full time job, 2 kids and a very hectic schedule, I have to schedule in workouts and recovery time is a thing of the past. I am lucky to be out there doing this, slow or fast, it has been a long road to get me back to this spot- Positive.
I have made it a point, even when I was fast to look at my feet and be
all "aww shucks" about racing, I am the first person to make fun of
myself and in listening to Heather, I now realize that I am not only a
hypocrite, but doing myself a disservice.
I will jump up and down, cry, scream, laugh and preach to
Dan about how amazing he is, in an effort to keep
all of his mental energy positive. In group swims, I will circle back
to help out people who are struggling and talk them through the panic
as they plod through the water, but when I am alone, I am kicking
myself in the ass for being slow. My mental mantra for too long has
been "this sucks, you are slow, you're not as fast as that guy, look
another person just passed you, you suck!"
It's great to have a coach like Heather for 1000 different reasons,
this is one of them. She has the ability to see something in me that I
can't or have forgotten how to see, she sees what I can be and helps me
"Your homework from now until the end of the race is to be positive
about everything. Every time you talk about it, it has to be in the
positive, when you are training you have to find something positive to
focus on, by the time race day comes along, you will be filled with
positive energy and ready to go."
Really it's a great life lesson in anything you do.
This weekend I rode with a group of very strong riders and got dropped
at mile 14 (I was scheduled to do 60), my initial reaction was to get
mad at myself, turn around and go home, but I stayed positive. I saw
that my average MPH with the group was about 6 MPH faster than when I
was alone, so I focused on staying at least 2 MPH faster than my normal
average. I remain positive, started a new mental mantra with every
breath, "out with the negative, in with the positive," with every
breath in and out. I know it's a little new agey, but it kept me
going, and by the end of the ride, I hit my new goal, I was faster than
I have been all year.
Staying positive all the time about something is as hard as training,
at first, but just like training, the more you do it, the easier it
becomes. I am nervous about Steelhead,
that makes me human, but I am positive, that I am going to do the best
I can, enjoy the journey and finish with sense of accomplishment, as I
march towards my goal of 500 miles for The Pathways Foundation.
To find out about all of the different Ironman races, click here.
To find out how Heather can help you reach your goals or to register for any Rev3 event, click here.