I often think of triathlon like the mafia. Or like any number of diverse pursuits that typically have similar themes and requirements. Whether it’s triathlon, cycling, yoga, writing or coaching hockey, I find each challenging, frustrating, addicting and sometimes panic-inducing. Back to the mafia reference, once you ‘join the club’ it seems you can never leave. While I’m not registered for another race, odds are, that at some point I’ll be feeling the itch to get out and swim, bike and run.
The challenges in each race I’ve completed are as varied as you’d expect; from swimming in the ocean as opposed to a lake, competing at sea level versus a mile high and the wild cards of weather. I’ve tried to get in the habit of expecting the worst and not allowing an imagination of anything different. Approaching Ironman Arizona in November 2014, I’d been telling myself that the relative flatness of the desert roads would be a welcome break from the altitude and hills of Colorado. Naturally, the day was the windiest of the past 6 months, with 30-40 mph winds throughout the bike course. Finding an attainable goal within the day has helped my focus in various ways; most often around the idea that I’m not competing against the other people on the course. I’m ultimately competing against the space between my ears, always a noble and capable foe! For Superseal a few weeks ago I was able to finish the 6.2 mile run in less than 60 minutes….finishing at 58 minutes and change.
Triathlon is ultimately, for this amateur, an opportunity for progress. Whatever you want to call it – baby steps, small improvements, etc. While my racing times might not always show vast improvement(s), the race isn’t ultimately against the clock. It’s a battle of wills and having the mental clarity to appreciate the progress while eschewing the pursuit of perfection.