The long road home…
To be honest, I hate writing blogs. I find reading them repetitive. I find writing them even more repetitive. There is a perceived need that we all (meaning triathletes) have to write one because people are interested in the “Professional” athlete, the guy (or girl) who does “three sports” really fast, the “freaks!”! The reality is the majority of us are none of these things and the requirement to write a blog is no greater than people behind a desk or cash register. I suspect they do far more interesting things with their day than we do. So with this is mind, I am going to write my last blog of 2013. I am going to fill the insatiable appetite of the two or three people who give a shit about what I am doing, but more importantly, give closure to myself on a a year (yes it’s premature) that has been so incredible yet so disappointing.
Don’t be concerned.
At the start of the year I quit my job as a Physiotherapist. It was a decision based largely on the apparent need to become even more self-obsessed, single-minded, and emotional than I already was. I had high expectations that the extra time I had to devote to triathlon would lead to rapid improvements and lots of money. Well, maybe not the money. I moved to Boulder, Colorado and was as settled as I have ever been. Everything about the place I love. The people, the training, the ability to completely remove yourself from the triathlon bubble, and the ease of which to get yourself back into it. I had also found a coach in Marko Albert who I could work, challenge, learn from, and trust. Yet despite these things it is now late September, 10 months after I made the decision to pursue a life of self-obsession, I am sitting in Branson Airport following a flat-tire induced DNF, and I am in a position I never thought I would be; deflated.
So what’s happened to bring me to this moment of deflation?
For my own interest, I did a pseudo SWOT analysis. I don’t know why, I just did!
Despite the current tone of this blog, it may surprise some that there have been “successes” this year. Moments of hope, bursts of encouragement!
- I won the Goondiwindi ‘Hell of the West’ – an Iconic Australian Long-Course race.
- I came 3rd in the Noumea International Triathlon with two highly respected athletes in Tim Reed and Brad Kahlefeldt in front of me.
- I won the Boulder 5150 Sprint Triathlon
- I achieved my first podium in a 70.3 event; 3rd at Ironman 70.3 Syracuse
- I qualified for my first World Championships; the Ironman 70.3 Las Vegas World Championships.
I would admit that outlining failures is much more comfortable for me than detailing successes. I am not sure if this is the same for everyone. I take full responsibility for my failures this year; I had the opportunity, the environment, and the people behind me to succeed, I just haven’t delivered.
- I came 14th at Geelong Long Course after winning in Goondiwindi the week before and being in arguably the best shape of my life (and yeah, I was recovered).
- A 6th in Busselton may have been solid, but I deserved the criticism from others in the bike group for not pulling any turns on the bike.
- I exploded on the run at Kansas 5150 after coming off with the leaders on the bike. I finished 9th.
- Again, I blew on the run at Boulder 70.3 after suffering my way through 90km in the chase pack on the bike. I came 13th.
- The biggest disappointment of them all… Ironman 70.3 World Championships. I swam poorly, I biked dismally, and I ran. Just ran. Some gave me congratulations for finishing when others pulled the pin. To me that is no consolation. I finished 34th.
When I look at reasons for my failures this year I can come up with a pretty exhaustive list. They are pretty similar to those of previous years. That in itself is a failure; not improving on things I set out to improve at the start of the year.
- Swim – I am a soft c*&* in the open water!
- Bike – I am not yet strong enough, powerful enough, and fast enough.
- Run – Has become a sad product of the failures of the two above, and a long way off the weapon it can become.
At some point in this blog I’ll start being positive. Ok, how about now?
I guess I have two ways I can deal with my current situation. 1) Quit and pursue the normal life of a Physiotherapist, or 2) make constructive changes to the weaknesses I have outlined above. My answer: Making changes. I see every one of my weaknesses as an opportunity, and not because it’s an overused cliché. I genuinely believe that. I don’t need to justify my credentials in a blog, but I know that I am not a hopeless swimmer, that I do have the potential to ride well, and that my run can be a weapon. I am not doing this sport to come 9th, 6th, or 3rd in 2nd tier races. This is not the only thing in my life where I need to be that desperate. I am doing this sport because I believe, whether it is deluded or not, that I can be much higher up on the results list, consistently. Until such time as I believe this dream in untenable then I will continue on this path. The changes I am going to make I will keep to myself for now. Just as I have taken complete responsibility for my failures, I am now going to take complete responsibility for the changes I need to make. And in 2014 I will be back giving this sport an even bigger crack!
So that’s it. That is my story for now. Apologies that this has been a blog without the fluffy feel good story but I did try and warn you.