How Bad Do You Want It?

Have you ever had one of those mornings when nothing seems to go quite right? Welcome to my world this morning. My 4:30 alarm somehow incorporated itself into my dream – something to do with the World Cup – and I slept through it only to wake up 45 minutes later, quickly realising in a cold-sweat-inducing panic: “OMG! I’m going to miss swim squad, again!” Luckily, I was able to catapult myself out of bed, get myself together (the benefits of packing everything the night before were clearly on display this morning!) and was on the road 10 minutes later. From there it was a mad dash to training, tempting an unwanted encounter with the highway patrol, all in an attempt to get to training by 6 am.

Amazingly enough, traffic on the Monash Freeway was flowing, and I was able to calm the farm down a little bit, realising that: “Phew! I’m going to make it.” All was good again in Margy Margs’ land until I realised I had left the heater on in my bedroom…

This morning’s misadventures got me thinking – how bad do you want it? How bad do I want it? It would have been super easy just to roll over this morning and to go back to sleep. I mean, I was already late so what was the point? Right? And that’s exactly what the old me would have done. I would have gone, “Ah, stuff it!” And I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep taking the easy way out. But things have changed – I have some big goals, and I want to achieve them more than I want to sleep in.

This morning also got me thinking about Ironman 70.3 Cairns.

Since Ironman 70.3 Cairns a couple of weekends ago, I’ve been listening to the audiobook: ‘How Bad Do You Want It – Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle?’ by Matt Fitzgerald because things didn’t entirely go to plan in Cairns. I didn’t have the race I knew I could have – the race I knew I had in me. Thinking over everything that happened on the day (who doesn’t love a good little post-race analysis), this is mostly because my head wasn’t really in it – I didn’t want it bad enough, particularly on the run.

The swim was nothing too spectacular and there were certainly no records broken but based on the tougher conditions, it was a little faster than the swim in my previous race. I felt stronger in the water, and even managed to swim on feet and to pass a few people as well – wowsers! The bike was challenging but beautiful – that course is pretty spectacular. For the most part, I road within myself and didn’t completely empty the tank. Although, I really wish a certain other “tank” did empty on the bike – haha. Maybe then I wouldn’t have spent a good two minutes sitting in the T2 portaloo (*facepalm*).

Onto the run.

Running out of T2 I heard someone say: “Have a good run.” “OK,” I thought. “Let’s do this.” But somehow things soon started to unravel. Not physically as such – I mean, I did feel a little faint at the start of the run (dehydrated, maybe?) but for the most part, I know I’m fit enough and strong enough to have a good run off the bike. I’ve done it in training time and time again. Where things started to go wrong was in my head.

Finish line feels – relief and disappointment (Image: FinisherPix)

I looked at my Garmin and quickly noticed I wasn’t quite hitting my goal pace targets. A barrage of negative thoughts then started to flow in, screaming at me to slow down, to stop and I couldn’t quite shake them. From there, I started to get hot – I began to feel the heat and humidity. I pulled down the top of my race kit trying to cool down, and it was basically game over after that. I started walking aid stations, and even walked a small portion of the first lap of the run, near the turnaround. My head wasn’t in it. I didn’t want it bad enough. Walking was the easier option, and I took it. But despite all of this I pushed on because along with everything else, a DNF was never going to be an option.

Now, I will add as per my actual result; things weren’t quite as dire as I thought they were while the race was unfolding. I still managed to run a relatively OK time – slightly slower than my target but still a lot faster than most previous races I’ve done in the last 12 months. And I still managed to finish 16th out of 60-odd in my age group (I even made the first page of the results – win! Ha-ha). So, not a bad result overall. But despite all of this, there is still that slight sting of disappointment, knowing I could have given more, fought more if my head was in it – if I had wanted it bad enough!

But it’s the challenging races that make us, and, my result in Cairns makes me hungry for better!

Remembering this and how it feels to walk away from a race knowing you could have done better, the easy way out this morning would have been to go back to sleep, and surely it would have been a less hectic way to start the day. But the easy way is no longer an option – much like the fact that a DNF has never been an option for me in races. I want to achieve my goals more than I want/need to sleep in. Being a little late to squad is better than not turning up at all. And hopefully it will be these little daily wins over my self and wins over taking the easy way out that will help come race day – I’m working on developing the habit of not taking the easy option. Because I do want it – I want it bad enough!

So, back to this morning… Well, I made it to squad – five minutes late, so I missed the warm-up, but I made it. And after several attempts at calling my mum and brother to let them know about the heater (funnily enough they weren’t picking up their phones… Come on guys! Just because it’s 5:30 am! Ha), mum called me after swim squad to let me know she’d received the 4000 panicked messages and missed calls, and had turned the heater off. Thanks, mum! Another day, another Margy Margs crisis averted… 🙂


Margaret Mielczarek

Margaret Mielczarek is the deputy editor at Australian Triathlete Magazine and writes the web series 'Shenanigans of a Deputy 2.0'. She is a passionate age-group triathlete and four-time Ironman finisher - currently in training for Ironman number five!

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