Risk, Control, and Trust

Posted in: Ironman, mental training, Triathlon, triathlon training, Uncategorized

This is not my Ironman Cairns Race Report; that is coming.  This is actually a blog that I wrote in late May before I even left for Australia.  But, for some reason I never got around to publishing it.  I thought it was still appropriate to share it though … so here it is.

I was supposed to race in The Woodlands, TX a few weeks ago in Ironman Texas.  I did manage to make it through my last big block on training for the race and was hitting lifetime bests on the bike and run.  But, then … all the stress and emotions I had been hiding came to the surface.  This is embarrassing because I don’t cry that much, but I started breaking down during workouts uncontrollably.  I even had a lady pull up next to me on a run and ask me if I needed a ride.  I literally went from being on top of the world as far as triathlon training and racing went, to feeling like I could quit the sport and never race again in a matter of two days.  My coach, Jesse Kropelnicki, came to the rescue.  He assured me that the physical fatigue from the amount of training I had done was enough to cause people to breakdown emotionally – and combine that with the difficult time of watching my stepdad deteriorate rapidly in his last few weeks, it was bound to happen.  So, I rested and focused on my family.  I hardly did any training for two weeks, and was very blessed to be able to spend some wonderful moments with my stepdad in his last few days.  We prayed together, and he had so much peace about him that for lack of a better word to describe it, it was beautiful.  He passed away 9 days before race day, and honestly it was a huge relief that any pain and suffering he was going through was now gone.

Training and racing seemed very unimportant during that time.  Of course, every now and then during those weeks, I would get a little panic that all of that hard work was for nothing.   But, I believe everything happens for a reason and God really does work out things for good to those who believe in Him and trust Him.  I may not see instant gratification, or instant results, but there is a reward for doing what is right and working hard.  I resurfaced and rejoined the triathlon world 5 days before race day.  To say I felt “less than prepared” to race was an understatement.  But Coach Jesse, gave me a test set to do and said that physically I was ok to race – maybe I would be 15 minutes slower, but I could still have a solid day.  It was the mental aspect of my preparation that was in question apparently.  To those who race Ironman, you will understand that mental preparedness is just as important as physical preparation come race day.  Ironman requires a battle within yourself.  It hurts, and it hurts for a long time – you have to be ready to go deep within yourself at times to push through those low times if you are going to get the most out of your body on race day.  It was clear to Jesse that I may be setting myself up for failure if I raced in Texas.  So plan B was in effect – Ironman Cairns.

I was torn at first about going to Australia, mostly because of the financial cost and long travel.  But, it was the only race that really fit my schedule and I want to give qualifying for Kona a real shot this year.  At my stepdad’s memorial service, the chaplain talked about how my stepdad had no regrets and really lived his life.  This is true, he didn’t have any regrets; he is one of the rare people who did everything he wanted to do in this life.  I thought about this and my decision to go to Australia.  At first, I felt a lot of pressure to perform in Australia for financial reasons – to pay for that darn plane ticket.  But, then I thought about what it means to really live your life and experience life.  I need to race, to try, to do my best with the things I can control.  Race my heart out in Cairns, live my life with no regrets.  You can’t really live if you are constantly afraid to try things because of the myriad of “what ifs.”

Risk – you have to take risks and follow your dreams.  Risk failing.  But realize that failing isn’t the end of the world either as long as you don’t let it get into your spirit.  Get up and try again and again and again.  Because as long as you aren’t afraid of failing, and are willing to risk that, nothing can keep you from being all that God intended you to be.

Control – I like to be in control of things.  But, one thing I have worked on mentally with my racing is focusing only on the things I really do have some control over.  Basically, I can execute my race plan; but other things such as weather, other people, equipment, etc are not within my control.  This is true in life in general.  We can’t control other people, and we can’t control a lot of the consequences in our lives.  But, we can control how we react to them.

Trust – This is the hardest for me.  In racing, you have to trust your coach and your preparation.  I do trust my coach; he hasn’t steered me wrong so far.  And I am working on trusting my preparation, although I am a perfectionist so I can easily dwell on everything that wasn’t “perfect” – and nothing is ever perfect.  However, that is not the kind of trust I am talking about.  I am talking about trusting God.  I think this is one of the hardest things to do in this life.  To really trust God to work things out for your good, even when all logic and reason seems to suggest that things are “all screwed up.”  To keep persevering, keep believing, keep hoping.  I’ve heard Dr. Charles Stanley say that many times people quit or give up right before God is about to open up the doors and really bless them, answer their prayers.  I think this is true.  The reason:  well, we are supposed to trust God and have faith in Him – but that means believing even when we can’t see it.  That means hoping even when it appears like what we want is never going to happen.  If we knew, one more time, or two more times, or 10 more times, or one more year, etc, then we really wouldn’t need a whole lot of “faith” to believe.

So, I left Charleston, SC on June 2nd and arrived in Cairns, Australia on June 4th.  Fortunately, I had an awesome homestay in Australia, which made the trip incredible.  And Australia is a great place with friendly, kind people.  My full race report is coming, but basically, I had a decent race and place 3rd – not too far out of the mix for 1st and 2nd.

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