Friday, September 3, 2010
Peaks and Valleys
Poetry, music, forests, oceans, solitude - they were what developed enormous spiritual strength. I came to realize that spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning, had to be stored up before a race.
Herb Elliott, Olympic champion
Two weeks ago I was on the fence as to whether I had the physical health (back was still bothering me on long rides) and the mental strength to push through another Ironman. I did a couple mega workouts a couple weeks out including a 42 km run and a 6 hour ride. They both felt OK, not great, but OK. In other words I had doubts. When you are embarking on a 140.6 mile journey of swimming, biking and running starting out with doubts is like setting out to row around the world without an oar. In hindsight there should have been a DNS beside my name instead of a DNF. I should not have started. I was hoping for divine intervention. I was hoping that I would have a tailwind the whole way. I was hoping that my competition would be off their game. I was hoping for a bit too much. In actual fact I was hoping for way too much. I started the day with a decent swim, but even during the swim I was not excited for the day because I knew that something was not right. Maybe I didn't have that spiritual strength to carry on. As the quote above suggests, you need to store that strength up. I had not done that and I knew it. I have pushed through injuries in the past (crashing early on the bike in New Zealand last year is a recent example). I felt OK on the bike (actually I felt quite good) for the first 60km to Richter Pass. That is when I started to feel my low back tightening up once again. I rode it out for another 30km but the more it started to hurt the more negative my thoughts turned. Normally I can spin negative thoughts into positive ones that get me through the race. This time I could not. In Placid I was done due to the pain. On this occasion I was done not just to the pain, but to the pain that I knew awaited me up the road. This is a tough admission to make, but I was just as weak mentally going into this race as I was physically. The only thing to do now is to remember the feelings I have at this very moment and learn from them. One thing I can vow; I will not start another race until I am 100% physically, mentally and spiritually ready.
I am just back from a couple of days in a Ucluelet cabin with Rex, some good music, some books and nothing else. I already feel as though I am starting to find what I was missing.
I would like to thank all of you who took the time to email and call offering well wishes before the race and then concern after. It means a lot.
To my team mates and athletes that went on to battle not only the distance, but also mother nature you have my utmost respect and admiration. You should all be extremely proud of yourselves.