Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ironman 2010 race season over - REFLECTION

I've spent the last 7 months training between 20 and 30 hours a week, EVERY week (I've had just four days off, sick with a lung infection). I set out on a 2 year plan to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

2010 was not supposed to be about qualifying but rather it was about massively improving and moving up to a level where I could realistically see just how much more I would need to do to qualify in 2011. I achieved that goal...perhaps a little too well.

Things went very well, I dropped 12kg from my post summer holiday weight and got within 2kg of my "ideal" racing weight. I consistently put in not only the volume but more importantly planned, structured training, with high quality sessions week in week out and WITHOUT getting sick (with the exception of the blip mentioned above).

I took on Ironman Malaysia extremely confidently without any expectations of qualifying, just confident that I was in great shape and with a great attitude. I saw the opportunity to qualify present itself after the bike and I went for it. As it turns out I was 5th in my age-group (only 3 slots available), just 7 minutes off qualifying, 9th amateur and 20th overall - I qualified in EVERY age-group except the 40-44 category!

I was not despondent, not even disappointed as qualifying wasn't the plan and anyway China was just two weeks away and I was still in great shape. Sooooo maybe... (now I was starting to believe and was having expectations).

I write all this as I can now feel the post Ironman blues setting in. I think after Ironman Malaysia I was supremely confident going into China and knew qualification was a given if I competed with my "A" game in tact.

As it turns out the who's who of Ironman age-groupers had the same idea and the competition was tougher than I could possibly have ever imagined - together with the hot/windy weather, lack of aid stations or cold water it was the "perfect storm".

I now look back and still feel that despite the competition and having IMMY in my legs just two weeks before I would still have likely qualified had the race not been so hot/windy, coupled with the lack of aid stations leading to severe dehydration.

Of course we will never really know, this may be bravado or ego talking but what I do know is that emotionally I am having more problems dealing with it as each day goes by.

During the run (much of which I was forced to walk), I felt very sorry for myself but more so I felt a terrible sense of failure and responsibility to all my friends and people that had supported me in this dream of qualifying for Hawaii.

There's no need to "put me straight", I knew then and I still know now that everyone would have felt disappointed FOR ME and certainly not felt "let down" by me. But I'm just sharing my emotions, that I felt and feel. Certainly during the race I truly felt that I was letting a lot of wonderful people down. Not much to do with reality or logic just raw emotion.

It seems that out of all of my buddies and training buddies that intended to qualify for the big one, they all made it with the exception of Carmen (I still dearly hope that she gets her spot as first Malaysian woman - still pending an appeal to WTC) and @Brybrarobry (Bryan).

Bryan now has two more shots, having entered Ironman Utah and Lake Placid (Gosh I'm envious, if he qualifies I already know that my feelings will be somehow of righteous redemption - no idea why but it will somehow make my pain considerably easier to deal with - I'm really rooting for you Bryan).

So where am I at? I've pretty much got past the feeling of letting people down (this was a real emotion but a false reality). I got over the self pity as soon as I could run again during the race when the temperature started dropping. But I'm starting to head towards a dark place (a very dark place). Jens, Cort, Emma, Wong will be heading to Hawaii, hopefully so will Bryan, Johan (yet to do IMSA) and Carmen. I looked at the calendar today and saw just one more window open for me - Ironman UK!!!

I thought long and hard and decided NO. Instead I applied to represent the British Team at the ITU Long Course Triathlon in Germany (same day as IMUK, August 1st). I decided this as it was my original plan (especially if I wasn't Hawaii bound), also my sister lives nearby and finally for my mental well being - I realised if I skipped the ITU race (a race I dearly want to do) and still didn't qualify for Hawaii then I'd be in a darker place than I am now.

So yes I'm going to have a tough couple of weeks but I have to remind myself that Hawaii was a two year plan. The fact that I got so close to cause this disappointment should be regarded as a rather nice and unexpected surprise. I must remind myself to start feeling sorry for those that I will be competing against for a Kona spot next year because it is they that will be missing out not I!!!

That final point above may appear arrogant but it will be based upon a massive amount of hard work, supported by experience (it's been a 10 year apprenticeship) and fueled by my current feelings of acute disappointment. I will not fail.

So to conclude this post, I leave myself with two thoughts: -

"So I didn't qualify - Oh well ay!"

"If I keep doing the right things often enough and long enough then success is guaranteed"

I've entered one of my favourite races - OSIM Singapore Olympic Distance Race on April the 11th. I need to recover and convert my slow twitch muscles to fast twitch ones in four weeks. My whole training focus needs to be realigned very quickly. Already I just can't wait, Olympic Distance races are my forte, they are what I'm built for and good at, two hours of unbridled, acutely debilitating pain and then it's over - you've just got to love it.

See! There's a light at the end of the tunnel already. Not only that but I rode my bike again yesterday and ran again this morning, the endorphins kicked in and I'm reminded why I do this - I then went rollerblading with Shilpa and the boys and had a couple of very large beers with dinner - Life is good, VERY GOOD in fact!

I'll post my race report tomorrow - it covers some of the same stuff but I think I'm through the worst of it. On that note - Good night.


Brybrarobry said...

Great post. It's funny, when you have to write about it, it sure puts everything in perspective. Your right about your original goal and that qualifying wasn't it, so why be disappointed. The gains you've made have been incredible and the best is yet to come.

BTW, I just realized that I'm now reading your posts and you added your accent. haha.


Simon said...

Thanks Bryan - indeed writing about it really helped.

Yes the cup is always half full (of endorphins) and the other half is pure oxygen.

Just loving life.