There are so many things about the Ironman Triathlon that have taught me many life lessons. However the one that is most meaningful for me at this time may also help you.
During my first 9 Ironman triathlons while out on the run course, well after most of the athletes had already finished and gone home, I would catch myself saying, “I’m just slow and probably will always be a back of the pack age-grouper.” Self fulfilled prophecy. That’s where I always found myself and saying the same thing race after race. I was giving myself permission to be slow.
Then something special happened.
I made a choice to believe that I could finish 1st or 2nd in my age group and qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii come October 2015. I did that in March 2013. I’m grateful for Dave MacArthur for reminding me that I first had to believe it in my mind before I could achieve it.
After Dave reminded me of that truth I prepared this photo of me finishing 1st at Ironman Arizona this November with a personal best time of 10 hours 21 minutes.
As a result of that choice I made to believe I was a champion some amazing things have happened to me that will blow you away!
Training Peaks Software Revelation
I use Training Peaks software to upload all my workouts and keep track of my training plan. I had used this software for about nine months prior to March 2013 when I made the choice to believe I was an age group champion. Inside that software are some amazing tools that I never took the time to learn. The exact day I prepared the above photo and posted it on my vision board I entered the Training Peaks software just like I had done over 200 times before. Only that day I noticed a link to a webinar posted on YouTube on January 12, 2012 called “Targeted TSS For Ironman Training.” I decided to look at it. I was blown away by what I learned about how the software rates each workout with a TSS (training stress score) score and it graphs it over time. The CTL (cumulative training load) score is a very good predictor of your finish time in the Ironman. As the webinar proceeded to the point below (see photo below) (at the 33:20 mark) it showed the predictor chart and I stopped the webinar and went into the software to see what my CTL was prior to racing Ironman Arizona in November 2012. It was 56. Notice in green below what a score of 50 and 60 predicts the Ironman time to be; 15:14 or 14:03, respectfully. Through extrapolation a 56 score predicts a finish time of 14:32, one second from what my actual time was in Ironman Arizona. That was freaky to me!!
After seeing that my interest was peaked. I went back into the webinar and scrolled down the list and noticed that a time of 10:21 minutes was listed, that’s the time on the vision board I had just prepared. Again, way freaky! I almost started to cry. I needed a CTL score of 12o in order to do that. Now I knew how much harder I needed to train in order to accomplish my goal. I would have to train about 214% harder from a 56 to a 120.
GoPro Hero 3 Camera
Just a few days after that I went shopping in REI and was only looking to buy some new training clothes. Right smack dab in the middle of the isle was a GoPro camera display with an awesome sale going on. I stopped to take a look and noticed as part of the sale the camera came with an underwater case. I purchased the camera and began to film my swimming underwater.
I was shocked to see how bad my swim stroke was. At 47 frames per second I could see that I was actually stopping during one phase of my swim stroke. Now I could begin to make changes.
I injured myself running about April last year. I could not run for about 6 weeks. After I could begin running again I took the GoPro out and filmed my run gait. I had a glaring problem that actually most people have. I was landing my lead foot in front of my center of gravity, essentially putting the brakes on and sending a jarring pounding up through my leg into my hip and lower back. I could see that I would have to solve that in order to run faster and injury free. As a result of that I found Chi Running. It is a better run method that is more efficient and less taxing to the body.
Ironman Lake Tahoe
I raced Ironman Lake Tahoe in September last year after I had made the choice to believe I could qualify to race Kona. This was an Ironman of many breakthroughs yet my slowest time ever. I finish only 26 minutes before midnight, the cut off time. It was during this Ironman that I felt I could win. Even though I was so far behind my thoughts were positive all day. I had my best swim ever by about 3 minutes. The bike leg was my slowest ever. I had a malfunctioning power meter and I had to go by heart rate and perceived effort. I knew it was slow because of all the climbing, something I’ve never really trained hard for. It was on the marathon that I had my break through moment that will carry me to Kona.
I was able to run the first 7 miles before my energy level dropped and I had to start walking. At about mile 19, in the pitch black of night, very cold and lonely, I realized that I had to start running again to insure I finished before the midnight cut off. In all my prior 9 Ironman races after I began to walk it was impossible to start running again. This night was different. I had to dig deep and find the heart of a fearless warrior and start running again. I had a major headache and my foot was really very painful but I focused only on the finish and began to run. I actually ran for 2.5 miles and then I could see that I could finish. That 2.5 miles taught me more about myself than I had ever learned about me before. The power of the mind is endless!
I hired a great coach, Steven Bentley, from Canada. He is awesome. He believes in me and has been very helpful in pushing the best out of me. As of today my CTL is 67.8. That’s higher than it’s ever been in my career and I have 54 days left of training.
As I train for Ironman Texas I’m sore almost all the time. During my training routines I do not focus on the pain, something I always did before, but only the finish line in Kona! I accept the pain as part of the price I have to pay to be successful. I’m progressing really well. I predict my CTL score will be about 90-100 before the race on May 17, 2014. Then as I prepare for Ironman Boulder Colorado in August and then Ironman Arizona in November, I’ll move that score up to the 120 and God willing will have a finish time of 10:21 earning me a Kona slot.
What You Can Take Away from My Experience
- You first have to see the result in your mind and believe it before you can achieve any thing worthwhile in your life.
- Allow the possibilities to unfold before you and be open to exploring new things. You’ll attract what you need into your life to accomplish what your mind sees.
- You’ll have to work at it your goal. You’ll experience pain but you’ll not focus on it because your mind is at your finish line.
- You’ll learn more about yourself due to the pain than you could ever learn without. You’ll learn how much human spirit you have.