The Ironman World Championship course here in Kona is known for being one of the hardest to race. The heat and unpredictable winds, not to mention the pressure of a world stage, make this race just plain brutal! The World Championship obviously brings the best in the world together in a single race. It has often been said that at this level, there is very little difference in physical fitness between those at the top of the field but the difference is mental fitness.
So, on one of the hardest courses in the world the difference between being 1st or 21st can be how the athlete reacts to “the hard.” We don’t get to choose if there is wind, how hot it is, mechanical issues, not “feeling” it, or what others are doing in the race. What we get to choose is how we react to those hard things.
My husband has often said “we do hard things.” Every time a trial pops up I now think about that. I have conquered workouts where I felt awful at the outset and sometimes never felt better. I have had 9+ hour days of training and spent time away from my family for training and racing. Having experience with the hard has given me knowledge that I can do hard things which helps me push through rough patches in a race.
When the winds in Kona come, and we all know they will, what do you focus on? Do you think, “Oh man, I’m going so slow! I’m losing time to those other women, or they will catch me soon.” Instead do you think, “I just have to keep hitting these watts and this effort level, I’m great in the wind and know how to handle this!” It has taken time for me not become despondent when hard conditions come. We are our own worst critic BUT can become our own best cheerleader. The words you tell yourself, whether negative or positive usually become reality because they change your mental focus. So focus on what you CAN control, put your blinders on, and look inward.
Going into the IM World Championship on Saturday October 14th there aren’t many guarantees, but this I can guarantee: I will react well to the hard. I have the confidence from my training that I can execute. I will be focusing inward and putting my best arm/pedal/foot forward and get to the finish line as fast as I can!