“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
That saying is also really true for racing, since racing is a great metaphor for life. You get out of what you put in. Sometimes, you have an absolutely perfect race, you’re in a flow state and everything just seems to magically click. Most times, unfortunately, it’s not the case. From the gun to the finish line, it’s just a sluggish grind. A battle between your mind and your body. A constant fight between that voice in your heard that wants you to slow down or stop and your will that powers you to continue.
70.3 St-George was one of those days.
For the past few days I felt really tired and sick. My taper consisted in lying on the couch, sleeping and watching Netflix. The activation the day before the race was horrible. I couldn’t breathe through my nose, my legs were dead even while spinning really slowly… not super motivating before a big race!
I was 90 % sure that I would be able to compete but still decided to go to the race briefing in case I would feel better the day of the race. It’s always a hard decision to make when you’re not sure whether you should race or not when you are sick or injured. In the case of an injury you shouldn’t race if racing may greatly worsen the injury. In the case of sickness, it’s a lot more difficult to make a decision. It depends on how sick you are and what are your goals. For instance, if you have a cold and your goal is to finish the race you should definitely race, since you’ll be able to compete, but not at your peak level of fitness, and finish the race. However, when your objectives are to compete and achieve a great results (both position and time) and when you have other races coming up, it’s a lot harder to determine what’s the best decision.
I felt quite a bit better the morning of the race but I could tell that if I decided to race it would be one of those long, ugly and painful grind. I decided to gamble it and toe the line. The gun went off and I already regretted my decision to race. I felt so tired and was moving really slowly. Countless times, I thought of pulling to the side, lifting my arm and jumping into one of the boats. But then I would bargain with that voice in my head:
“Ok, you’re feeling like sh!T but let’s just try to get to the next buoy”.
“Ok, next buoy”
I finally swam dragged my body to the sore. What a relief! I could finally pull the plug, go home and sleep. But then I continued to bargain with my mind: “Lets we try to bike for a little bit, maybe you’ll feel better”. This little negotiation with my mind, continued all day long:
“Continue until the next hill.”
“Maybe just a bit longer.”
After a while I was able to hit some OK power numbers. Far from what I had planned but better than nothing! I was still having fun and enjoyed the bike course. It always impressive to see legends like Sanders, Kienle and Talansky riding their bike! The last hill was a complete grind. It just seemed endless! At that moment I remembered why I told myself last year that I wasn’t gonna do this race again! I was SO happy to finally see the top of the hill and start the downhill toward T2.
I was physically and mentally not prepared to hammer on the run, especially being so far behind the leaders. I tried to keep a positive mental attitude (PMA like John Joseph would say!) and forget about my position, my pace, the hills and my blisters. I wish I would have been strong enough mentally to dig deeper throughout the run course.
When I saw the finish line. The first emotion I felt was relief! I survived a shitty day, on a tough course, against a great field of athletes. I could have dropped out sooooo many times or even not start at all but I won the battle against my mind and pushed through, even though it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast and it was far from what I wanted to accomplish.
I picked a bad chocolate in the chocolate box and ate it all instead of spitting it. Maybe next time I’ll pick a good chocolate 😉
ONWARD AND UPWARD!