When you train for an Ironman, everyone and their mother asks your projected goal time. The thing is, one of the greatest challenges about the whole training and racing process is to try NOT to get attached to a specific outcome. One out of my three previous Ironman races was slightly less enjoyable than the others, and I know it’s because I was too focused on my time. When I got out of the water after a particularly cold & challenging swim, I was cranky because my perfect plan for the day was already shot. Let me tell you, that is no way to feel only one hour into a twelve hour event! When I talked to MJ after the race, she said she always laughs when people pinpoint their projected time – because it’s an Ironman and so much of anything can happen to derail that perfect plan. MJ embraces the attitude that in an Ironman, the goal is to finish - anything else is pure bonus. This, from one of the most accomplished and competitive triathletes the sport will ever know.
So instead of posting a time goal, I’m going to share my hopes, dreams and desires for this race, and for any Ironman that I ever undertake. In no specific order, here they are:
• Get to the start.
• Get to the finish.
• Better my own best time.
• Set a new swim PR – I promised Nick and Natalie from CTS that I’d bake them a huge batch of cookies, should I improve my swim time using the technique tips they taught me. I haven’t baked in years, so that would be fun!
• Smile for the camera – just one decent finish line photo would be nice!
• Smile more than I wince throughout the day.
• Run a kickass marathon. Unlike most triathletes, I look forward to the final leg of the race – so I hope to feel strong when I get there and enjoy every stride.
• Remember the words of support, motivation and humor from my friends, family & fellow athletes when I need them most – it’s amazing how those little phrases pop into my head, mantra-like, during the long hours.
• Have the strength to push beyond my expectations during the high points and to pull myself out of the low points of the guaranteed roller coaster of race day.
• Remain coherent enough to continue thanking the volunteers throughout the day, even/especially through the last miles of the run.
• Make the top-five podium in my age group in an Ironman race. That, I think, would be way cool.
• Someday, some way, gain entry into Kona. I don’t care if it’s through qualification, lottery selection or some other divine act – I just want to do that race once.
• Forget about all these goals during the race and simply swim, bike and run my heart out, to the best of my ability on that particular day.
• Make MJ proud.
Of course, I know that MJ is proud of me already – for all the training and hard work I’ve done - and she’ll be prouder still when, if all goes well, I reach the finish in Port Mac. But I feel a certain extra drive this time around, which I’m sure is a very common component of any athlete/coach relationship. I want to show her how much she has helped me improve.
MJ has helped me in so many ways this year, only a portion of which relates to triathlon. She’s been an incredible friend, support, confidante, travel buddy, home-away-from-home, shoulder to cry on, fashion consultant, girlfriend to LOL with - a BFF in every way. And of course her training and racing mentorship has been invaluable. I can’t wait to get out there and test myself, and also to race at the same time as MJ, crossing paths on the 3-lap bike and run course and sharing words of encouragement – hopefully giving back to her some of the same support she’s provided. It’s stacking up to be an exciting day, with a competitive women’s field and MJ as the home-country favorite. I’ll be cheering like mad for my coach and friend. Go MJ!!!