IronWill is my new branding campaign for any Iron-Distance race. I may even start a whole movement behind this because becoming an Ironman take just that: Will. You have to be willing to sacrifice time with family and friends. You have to be willing to sacrifice your Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the very least. You have to be willing to sacrifice sleep. You have to be willing to sacrifice PERIOD.
There are athletes out there that are naturally gifted at racing triathlon. I happen to not be one of those individuals. What I do have and lots of it is heart. I have the heart to endure a lot of pain. That pain will be physical but I think more than anything else it is mental. I have a knack for tricking my mind into thinking that it won’t be so bad and before I know it I have traveled another mile. Then it comes time to play another trick and another mile has been ticked off.
My trick to have the will to succeed has been to break down not just the entire race but even the race within the race. The swim is not 2.4 miles long but instead it is a maximum of 3x 30 minute swims. A 112 mile bike ride is not 112 miles but 24x 15 minute segments. Why 15 minutes? I use my watch to notify me when 15 minutes has gone by so that I can take a drink. It helps to keep me fueled and hydrated and I don’t have to worry about riding 112 miles but instead just riding 15 minutes. Now the marathon…..oh the marathon! 26.2 miles of running but I have a plan for that too. 4 hours is 1/6th of an entire day. That is nothing. I can spend 4 hours on Facebook or 4 hours on Twitter right? In addition to the 15 minute segments I am also incorporating the following two processes into the marathon. First 30 minutes will be aerobic followed by 30 minutes at lactate threshold then back down to 30 minutes of aerobic. So now I am only running 30 minute segments. Also, at every while I will walk for 30 to 45 steps. All of this is to bring my heart rate down and allow me to finish with a solid 5k kick.
This weekend I rode on Saturday for 119 miles and hit the 112 mile mark at 6:00:11. I took it easy and kept my heart rate low and that has me fired up, but I had to have the will to push through the headwinds and crosswinds that dominated 4/6th of the ride. When the wind is blowing in your face and your legs are spinning and you feel like it is pushing you backwards you have to buckle down. You have to push through it and ask yourself do I have what it takes to finish this? The beauty of that is the reward. There is always a reward for your hard work. It could be a PR, it could be finishing something you didn’t think you could or getting that tailwind that pushes you to 24/25 mph without really pushing.
On my swim I got in the water and used the mantra that Coach gave me: The swim is just something you have to do. The race starts on the bike. That meant to just get in the water and not push it. Just swim smoothly and efficiently. Following this advice I swam 2.2 miles in 1:10 which projects to a 1:17. I think that easily could be 1:15 with a bit of a push or smart drafting, but once I got out and started my run is where the fun started. I started out slow and kept lowering my pace per my race plan. It was at Mile 15 when I thought about what I was doing and what I was accomplishing. I was on my way to be an Ironman and thought about all the sacrifices and all the fights I had with myself. Fighting the alarm to get up early and get in the pool. Fighting the thought that 1 hour of aerobic spinning is useless. Fighting the notion that packing up that bag full of bottles with hydration and nutrition is an exercise in futility. All the while I keep doing it because my will to succeed is stronger than my will to accept status quo.
”The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.”
I have always said that those that are stronger and faster will always be there, but there will never be anybody that works harder than me. I do the things that others say: I can’t do that. I take pride in that. That is what keeps me going and pushing to find my next level. I was a 4:39 marathoner just 3 and 1/2 years ago. Now I am looking to go 4 (really looking at sub-4:00) on the marathon AFTER swimming 2.4 miles and riding 112 miles. I was a 2:10/100 yards swimmer in the pool and now I am looking to swim 2.4 miles in 1:49/100 yards in the open water. I do not accept that this is my threshold, but instead think that this is just a starting point.
So with all of that I am now branding this as IronWill. Who’s with me?