In the winter of 2010 I came to Austin still very green at triathlon. I was aiming for the 2012 Olympics and willing to do “what it takes and whatever it takes”. I was ready to follow the script needed to become an Olympian. Mark graciously allowed me to live with him while I got on my feet as a full-time pro. I ended up living with him six months. Fast forward to where I am today.
Running in the foothills of the Flatirons with Anita last weekend we were talking about what I needed to do to mentally prepare for an Ironman. What to think when it gets really hard and when you need to overcome that point in the race where everything hurts, you want to stop, think this is crazy and maybe even dumb. Strategies like telling yourself to be kind to your body, to say “hello pain I expected you” or “this too shall pass”, count to 20 steps again and again and complete mental checks on hydration and nutrition were discussed. Like most pros pushing myself to the brink is not a problem. It is being able to keep that ability to do so in check. Before this year I used to joke with my friends and family that after a race if you can't find me, look in the medical tent. I always ended up there.
Last year at the Austin 70.3 race I wanted to win so badly and had the attitude that if you want something badly enough you can overcome anything. I pushed hard on the bike creating a huge lead. I ran out of transition like it was a sprint rather than a half marathon. I had blinders on, heard and saw nothing except the voice in my head – you want this, push harder, you can do this. One and a half miles to the finish I started running into a field off course. My body was done. I tried to bring myself around, to be conscious of where I was but all I could think was water. Then failure. Then water. Then failure. Why was it that when I have always been told it is a mental game and the will to succeed had I failed. I pushed myself so hard mentally that my body physiologically had to stop me. Even down on the ground I remember think keep going, at least walk. Failure.
This year after my struggle to get to a start line mentally prepared and physically sound everything had to change. The script had to be re-written. And the only person to write it could be me.
This year at Austin 70.3 I want to win again. The competition is tougher, the stakes maybe even higher. But unlike last year I come with something different. My success is rooted in awareness that I am out there living and loving my passion for sport and whole health. This year I will see you all my friends, cheering me on, supporting me as you always have. I will be the one with a huge smile on my face. This year I don't need a platform to publicly thank-you for all you are and what you have done for me to live this whole incredible life. You already know.