Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 53: Some Thoughts Before the Big Show

The first rule of ironman racing is that we don't talk about racing. The second rule of ironman racing is that we don't talk about racing. The third rule of ironman racing is that we don't talk Kona slot. I'm a bit of a head-case when it comes to ironman racing--here's a bit of history. Eleven years ago, I trained for my first ironman in hopes of getting a Kona slot. Everyone told me I should go 9:45 easily and get my slot. I ended up getting two flat tires and finished in 11:23, no slot. Six years ago, I traveled all the way to France in hopes of getting a Kona slot. Once again, everyone told me I should get a slot easily because the course is hilly and suits me. My buddy Chris and I made the mistake of flying in only four days before the race, and we never adjusted to the time change, averaging about 3 hours of sleep per night (I now know the rule is one day for every hour of time difference). We both DNF'ed. Five years ago, I did IM Coeur d'Alene, flatted, bonked on the run and finished in 11:26. The following year, I did Coeur d'Alene again. After swimming 55 minutes, riding a 5:26, I thought I was on my way to a PR, but at mile 14 of the run, I decided to take a nap. Well, the ambulance thought it was best to give me a ride to the med tent. "Racing" an ironman just hasn't worked for me. Thus, this time around, I'm taking the "racing" out of my race. No aero helmets and no race wheels, just the bike I've been training on for the past three months. I had four goals going into this race: 1) travel to Australia to live and train for IM Oz; 2) train as best as I can for the race and make it my number one priority; 3) finish happy and strong; and 4) get an IM PR. Race day is tomorrow and I'm towing the start line fit, injured-free, healthy, and I banked all of my workouts. This whole IM thing is about the journey and not just the end result, and without even starting the race, I've fulfilled 50% of my goals.
There is no goal of getting a Kona slot, though everyone I train with always seem hell bent on convincing me that I'm going to get a slot. I'm taking an "opportunist" approach toward the Kona slot come race day. If I see an opportunity to get a slot, you're damn right I'm going to go for it. Years ago, I wanted a Kona slot for my ego and for bragging rights. In fact, my plan before this trip was to qualify for Kona in 2031, when I'll be 60 years-old and the youngin' of the 60-64 age-group. Nowadays, I just want to get back to Kona so I can hang with the Kona crew again, and do what I now consider to be my hometown race. But this race is about completing my two final goals, finish strong and happy, and getting an IM PR. I've had so many emails and notes sent to me this week that I feel like you are all racing with me. And I will carry all of your collective well-wishes and use them as fuel on race day. If you sent me a message, I can tell you that I took it to heart and I am very appreciative. This ironman thing is definitely an emotional journey, that's why there are so many ironman junkies out there. Whether it takes me 10 hours or 14 hours to finish the race tomorrow, I can promise you that I gave it my all. I have enough respect (and fear) of this distance to know that you don't have much control over your finishing time, but you do have control over things like attitude, effort, and persistence. During this sabbatical, there is one lesson that has best prepared me for Sunday, and I mentioned it a couple of blogs ago: Plan, do your best and what you can, and whatever happens is meant to happen--problem solve, learn from it, and move on. I planned, I trained as best as I could, and I'm going to do what I can on Sunday, and whatever happens is meant to happen. What's really cool is that because of the time difference, Bree and the Kona Crew, the PacWest crew, Charisa, Ian, and I will all be racing on the same day. Sa-Weet! The race starts on Sunday at 6:45 AM NSW time (12:45 PM on Saturday California time), and you can track me online at Looking forward to catching up post-race!

1 comment:

Charisa said...

On the bike when I was allllllll alone on Saturday I thought to myself "pick it up cuz Kiet is on his bike pushing the pace right now" :)

Your history of IM stories is actually awesome. I bet you it rivals nobody elses!

Great attitude and good job on your race! I'm glad you had fun out there.