I left Galveston feeling like I didn’t have much to say about the race. I had fun, but felt unsatisfied. I was happy with my time, but again unsatisfied. Something didn’t sit right with me. I kept going over the race in my head. Nothing stood out. Nothing went wrong. I swam slightly off course, had my goggles knocked off briefly and had a tight hamstring on the second half of the bike, but honestly those things didn’t cost me much time at all. Maybe two minutes total….maybe.
So if nothing went wrong, why was I feeling so unsatisfied with the race? I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until Courtney put down the book she’d been reading (Iron War) and said, “You looked too comfortable out there. You need to suffer more.”
That was it. Nothing stood out. Sure, nothing went wrong, but there were no memorable moments in the race. There wasn’t a moment in the race where I wondered if I was pushing too hard. There was no moment where I had to fight the urge to quit. There was no digging deep, no pain, no suffering, no wondering why I torture myself like this….
…nothing stood out.
That may sound like a good race to some, but to me it leaves me feeling empty. I need to know what I’m capable of and the only way to do that is to have to dig deep….real deep.
Then I read a couple of blog posts that really hit home for me….
I've been racing halfs like a full - conserving, managing, etc.
I did my first half ironman in just under 5 hours and quickly progressed to the 4:40s and have been stuck there since. It’s not a bad place to be “stuck,” but I really want to break through to the next level. I’ve given this a lot of thought since Galveston and my problem is that I’ve been too conservative on race day lately.
Conservative isn’t a bad approach, and conservative on a solid training base will get you some very respectable times. In fact, I think all beginner long-course triathlete need to learn how to be conservative because they need to learn pacing and they don't have the proper endurance yet, but I’m coming to the realization that conservative will get you only so far. If you want to have a breakthrough and really see what you’re capable of, you need to take risks and put it all on the line.
Think about it. How many times have you seen pros or top age groupers blow up and DNF or finish way off pace? Some are very consistent, but you also see some inconsistency at the front of the race. It’s because those guys are on the edge. They’re taking changes. They’re willing to throw the entire race away for a great performance.
I haven’t been willing to do that. I want a great performance. I want a breakthrough. But deep down I’ve been so afraid of having a bad race that I haven’t put myself in a position to have a great race. That fear has kept me from taking risks.
But you have to. It’s risk/reward. It’s gambling. You can’t win the jackpot if you only bet the minimum. You have to be willing to put something on the line. That’s where the big rewards are.
My strategy for the rest of the year, including Liberty and IMWI, is to put it all on the line. I’m willing to throw away the entire race for a shot at a breakthrough performance. I’m going to throw my cards on the table and see what I’ve got.