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4th Time not the Charm « Mary Beth Ellis' Blog

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4th Time not the Charm

The Ironman World Championships in Kona has been a goal of mine for many years. While the ITU path and Olympics is the biggest stage in sport every four year; there is no higher stage in Ironman triathlon than Kona. I entered the race this year on a binge of racing Ironmans but had high expectations for my fourth Ironman in 14 weeks. However, the fourth time wasn’t quite what I envisioned in fact it blew my worst case scenario out of the water.
The race started off well. I was in the back of the front swim pack for the first 1K; then I followed the wrong feet. Next time, I sighted we were off the bike and game over rover. Then the feet was following sighted and gave me a big kick to the goggle. I could see for the rest of the swim out of one eye bad enough to be annoying but so bad as to stop and fix my goggles. Coming out of the swim, I was pretty demoralized. The time and place were much worse than I was hoping for. I didn’t give up and may have gone a bit hard the first 40K trying to make up for the subpar swim. I also swallowed lots of salt water, and puked up everything I tried to eat for the first 80K. Luckily switching to water, I was able to eat and drink fine by the second half of the bike. However, my bike motor was completely broken. My legs weren’t working and nothing I did managed to fix the problem. It felt like the entire field just passed by me and I could do nothing. To add insult to injury, I got a flat tire running over a staple. The quick fill worked for a few a miles, but I rode in fishtailing on a flat back tire. Starting the run, I think my mental state which was fragile at the start of the race had cracked. I was feeling sorry for myself, angry that I could swim or ride a bike, and really just wanted to quit the race. But I managed to suck it up and run an adequate marathon. By the time I got to the finish line, I was glad that I didn’t quit but very disspointed with my performance.
Coming into the race, I had no choice but to race three Ironmans. However, mentally I think I had such a hard road to get to the start line I didn’t take the time to refocus for the hard race at the world championships. When you are tired physically, it becomes even more important to be prepared mentally. In retrospect, I was strong enough mentally for the battle ahead, and I was physically compromised by the three Ironman events I had to finish. But the positive note is that I did suffer out there on lava fields and have learned some important lessons for next year.

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