The Intimidator half iron was a wake up call. While the race turned out fine, I never found “my gear”. You know the one that gets you to the point where you are in BEAST MODE. During the bike especially, I found that I had limited mental will to push my edge. And my performance shows it.
That is not the way to start the season. But, it did remind me that if I wanted my body to go all-in, then I would need to go head first.
I came home from the race, and I knew it was time: X-day is here.
I’ve written about setting an x-day before and usually, I set this day about 24 weeks out from a key race. X-day is the point on the calendar when everything (or almost everything) I do is about my key A race of the season, which for 2014 is Ironman Couer d’Alene. Normally, this day comes about 24 weeks out from an Ironman. But, at the time of the Intimidator, I only had a little more than 3 months to go, and my brain still hadn’t gotten in the game.
Now, don’t get me wrong – the physical training was there. The issue is mental focus. I have no one to blame but myself. I allowed myself to be distracted too much. But I can’t do that anymore.
Last year, I poured an incredible amount of mental energy into Ironman Lake Placid. I had one track and it went directly to Ironman Lake Placid. After missing my ultimate goal by less than 5 minutes in an 11 hour day, I wanted to get off the track. My heart hurt, and thinking about it made me too sad.
It’s hard to put everything you have into one thing and come up short. It’s hard to know that on that day, you weren’t good enough.
I had to put some mental distance between me and Ironman. Sorry, Ironman, it’s me. Not you.
And, that was the right move at that time. I hung out with friends. I went back to trail running. I read books I had been meaning to read. I did the laundry (oh, how it piles up!). I made origami bicycles. Okay, not that last one.
When it came time to re-focus and set my sights on Ironman Couer d’Alene, I found it challenging to muster the same mental energy I had going into IMLP. Sure, I trained. Sure, I worked hard, ate right, checked the boxes. But, in my head, I wasn’t in beast mode.
The weekend after the Intimidator, we wound up riding in the garage. Again. This winter clearly doesn’t understand the ways in which it has overstayed its welcome. In fact, I never invited winter in the first place.
We hooked up the computer to the TV, and one of our athletes Karl had brought over some surround sound speakers. Mmmm – loud! We started watching Ironman Kona videos – from various years – old ones, new ones, in-between ones. Natascha Badmann. Mirinida Carfrae. Paula Newby-Fraser. Karen Smyers. Women with a focus. Women with a plan to make it happen.
The sounds, the sights, the stories. I found myself there. I remembered John’s great day. I felt the tug of desire to make that famous run down Ali’i Drive.As we watched the 1995 Kona, when Karen Smyers went on for the win while Paula Newby-Fraser fought her demons just down the street from the finish line, something clicked.
I want this.
The physical training will only get us so far. If the brain isn’t on board, we won’t have the will to push through the pain, to slay the demons, and to scream back at the voices.
It’s X-day, and my mind has shifted cleanly into BEAST MODE.