Experience.....It Helps

[caption id="attachment_6895" align="alignright" width="275"]experience_ironman_triathlon Source: Ventiq[/caption] Yesterday a handful of items came across my laptop that got me to thinking about experience in this sport and how it helps.  The first item I saw was in a LinkedIn group discussing the Ironman swim, the second came from Beth's blog about picking out a 70.3 and the last was in a conversation with Maria regarding Ironman Texas and racing. In life we go through our daily activities and once we get accustomed to doing them a certain way it becomes easier to do them, but the first time it is somewhat frightening.  Think about the first time you took the training wheels off of your bike.  You were beyond scared, and so were your parents, that you would fall and hurt yourself.  With experience in riding the bike and figuring out the balancing, braking and turning you got pretty good at riding a bike and now some of you are racing 56 or 112 miles. It's that first time that really freaks us out and then we grow and mature.  We become experienced.  The LinkedIn Group topic referred to the swim and how Ian Thorpe was quoted as saying he felt like he was going to die just before a race.  When we jump into the water at the start of the Ironman that same feeling overcomes a lot of us.  I remember being in the water at The Woodlands thinking:  HOLY SHIT I AM ABOUT TO SWIM 2.4 MILES IN AN IRONMAN.  I was beyond nervous and the only thing that calmed me down was the guy next to me who shouted exactly what I was thinking.  It made me at peace with the swim because I wasn't the only one feeling that way. When Ironman Arizona came around I didn't have any nerves about the swim and was more focused on getting into a rhythm and achieving my goal time.  Michelle said to me that I must have seen the panic on her face and told her to stay with me until the cannon went off.  I don't recall Michelle looking nervous but it must have been there and because of my experience at Texas I was not as nervous as she.  Experience paid off as I just swam and I know when I get into Lake Woodlands in May I will edge closer to the front than I was in my two previous Ironman races. It is the previous experience at Texas that I am banking on helping me get as close to 11 hours as I possibly can and it is also what got me to thinking about Beth's response to my email.  She had posted about doing a 70.3 in 2013 but wasn't sure which one.  I posted that if it made a difference I was going to most likely be racing 70.3 Augusta in September.  She replied to me and said she didn't want to have done the same course twice prior to going all in on the 140.6 distance.  I can respect that as getting experience at a different course will help plenty but for me racing Texas again is about having already been on the course.  When I get to the Woodlands I will know exactly where the hills rise and descend.  I will know where the turns are and how to either push my limits or take it slow.  All of this experience will allow me to race this course as opposed to wanting to finish. When I spoke to Maria yesterday about this topic she whole-heartedly agreed.  Her experience at Lake Placid two years ago is going to benefit her tremendously as she vies for a Kona slot at that same venue in 2013.  Not only will Maria have the experience of having raced there before she trains there a lot and knows the roads inside and out.  This is going to be a tremendous advantage to her in comparison to the other ladies in her age group who have never been there before.  I am going to take this same approach and head down to the Irvin's a few times in the new year so that I can ride the course repeatedly.  Gaining that experience and knowledge is going to be a feather in my cap when that cannon goes off in May. The saying is something about getting wiser as we get older.  In this case getting wiser means gaining more experience.  Getting more experience means going from wanting to finish to racing.  The view I have of the sport is changing in this regard and it is because of the number of Half-Ironman and Ironman distance races I have done.  With each cannon more and more knowledge of my body and of my ability is being gained.  Putting all of this to good use is one way I have learned to avoid the pitfalls of the early morning butterflies and as each races occurs those butterflies will diminish more and more.  

Do You Race The Same Venues Repeatedly?  How Does This Help You?

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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