There is no such thing as failure, really in anything. Life, in my opinion, is about trying and I have recently really come to embrace that mindset more than ever. Have I made poor decisions? Sure. Could I have prepared more or prioritized things differently? Sure. But I only fail when I don’t try. No revelation here to most—nothing you having heard probably. But my revelation to share is to be ok with not looking at so many things as a pass/fail, but rather as success or more success.
I don’t know exactly what I want my life to be like or how I want to live every minute I have left, so how can anything I do be a failure? I don’t have a grand plan. My plan constitutes a variety of successes all glued together by happiness and a sense of accomplishment. I’ve made painful decisions to others and myself or lost more than I gained or outcomes I didn’t expect. I’m not proud of certain things, very happy about others but ready or not here I am.
An Ironman, like Boulder next week, to me is an amazing period of time where so many decisions and actions play out in one day. It started with a desire to compete and try something so bold. And then it progressed with carving out time in life and investing in equipment, nutrition, coaching and a million other things trying to put it all together for one performance of a lifetime. So many things out of my control could alter all my preparation and visualization of how this race unfolds. I have to know I can only control my preparation and effort.
In the end, the only way to fail is to not embrace the unknown such as the heat, difficult water temperatures, wind, rain, a bad stomach, a mechanical problem, cramping or just plain fatigue. None or all could happen and I’ve never had a race where at least one of those things I just mentioned didn’t occur.
Not everyone has a time or a goal but I have to know that the minute I cross the mat heading into the water I have succeeded and so have you. I do have a time and I will work my ass off to beat it. But I know I may not.
Tapering, for me, always causes anxiety and questions abound about preparation and execution. Sure, it’s good to plan things out and have a good idea about nutrition and hydration needs. So much is written about plans and paces and following this method or that and I think often wisdom can be found in every opinion.
But, ultimately for me it comes down to knowing I can’t fail. I might miss my goal, but I won’t accept anything but my best effort. The rest will simply be what it is. I will swim as comfortably and as fast as I can. Not being a lifelong swimmer I still have never quite figured my best pace so I try to keep my stroke strong and breathing regular. I’m not talented enough to know “this effort means this result” if that makes sense.
On my bike I know where I need to be and what I can do and I will try to sustain a pre-determined speed and heart rate. I don’t have a power meter on my tri-bike by the way. That would be the best way but so it is.
The run is the key to meeting my goal. I have to have my best run and I know a pace I want to sustain for the first 18 miles and if I can do that, I’m confident I can suck it up for the final eight. Those eight miles will really determine my level of success but no matter what, I won’t fail.
For each of us that enters the water on August 3rd, there are millions of people who would never even dare step foot on that shore. It is impossible to fail. It’s only possible to succeed less than I wanted. I need to let go of the uncontrollable variables, embrace them and stick to my plan and the end let my heart take over and push my across the line.