“This may be the coldest I have ever been on a bike.”

“Shut up about the cold, pedal harder if you are cold!”

“I don’t ever remember being hot this early on the bike here in Coeur d’Alene.”

“Shut up and pour water on your head and keep pedaling hard if you are hot!”

“I can’t feel my hands.”

“Good thing you don’t need your hands to pedal.”

“My feet are on fire”

“Yep, and you still need to run faster.”

“I can’t feel my feet!” Ha, that’s like that one song… what is it?… I can’t feel my face when I’m with you.”

“Seriously?!! Stop thinking about your face, or your feet, or… just run faster!” 

In a talk at a tri club recently, I was explaining that during a race, I almost feel like a computer that continues to refresh the homepage of my web browser. It has taken a lot of time and development as an athlete to get to this point. Both physically and mentally during an Ironman I have to assess and reassess whether or not I am currently on target with my immediate task. It is easy to let my mind wander and project what may happen later on in the race. Ultimately, if I have set a proper race plan I know I can be confident in sticking to my immediate pacing goals, which in turn, will also help me reach my long term goal for the race. This is more difficult then you may think. The quotes above are just a few of the things that went through my head during my past two races.

Somehow, in 4 weeks, I managed to race the two most polar opposite races. Most of you likely already know that Ironman Cd’A broke some long standing weather records in Idaho, and reached 105 degrees on race day. Then four short weeks later I raced in Whistler at Ironman Canada, where the high was a balmy 54 degrees. Add insane amounts of water on the road from the rain, and hairy descents, and you have the recipe for an intense 112 mile ride in Canada.

The common theme for these two races was that I was miserable in both, yet I loved each experience. I guess that is probably one of the commonalities among endurance athletes. For whatever reason, there is an overwhelming sense of satisfaction when overcoming personal limits. The conditions that presented themselves on each of these days were so extreme that on a training day I would have likely stayed inside. However, on race day I was willing to challenge myself to a point that I wasn’t sure I could overcome. Similarly in each race, I did push myself to a new place. I was dissatisfied with my hometown Cd’A result. Not because of my effort, but more the outcome. 9th place was a tough place to finish after being 7th last year and believing that top 5 was a reasonable goal. I can’t control how others race and 8 guys really just were better then me that day.

After Cd’A IM is my favorite week of the year as my boys and I go camping over 4th of July week with my friend Caleb and his boys. It is now a 4 year tradition that I look forward to each year, starting the day after our camping trip ends. It is much needed rest and a time of reflection. Two major things happened on this trip. First I chopped off a huge part of my thumb with a hatchet, second, I decided to race Ironman Canada. Thankfully my thumb grew back, and my confidence also… grew back.

I swam hard. I was extremely cold during the bike. I was cautious on descents. I hammered up the climbs. My back locked up. I hung tough on the run. I ate and ate when I didn’t want to. I ignored the pain in my legs. I raced a smart race and finished 4th, the best finish of my career so far. The key words are so far. This sport is hard. It feels like two steps forward and then one back, then repeat,  over and over. Thankfully, I am good at taking steps, and good at pedaling over and over. Henderson 70.3 up next. Thanks for following along.

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