My ‘Aha’ Moment

Triathlon: noun, an athletic contest consisting of three different events, typically swimming, cycling and long-distance running.

My definition of triathlon: noun, an honest sport, where you only get out what you put in (read: no missed training sessions). Requires CON-SIS-TEN-CY.

I did it! I made it before the cut-off! Booyeah.

That’s right, I’ve completed another half iron distance event, Ironman (IM) 70.3 Ballarat. And I’ve come out the other end tired – can someone please insert caffeine into my veins? I’m so sore – stairs are an issue today. I’m chaffed in places where the ‘sun don’t shine’. But I’m very, very happy.

What a difference a year makes.

This time last year, after completing IM 70.3 Ballarat, I was Little Miss Angry Pants. I was unhappy with how my day unfolded, angry and frustrated with myself for not being faster and for walking during the run. I remember getting my bike and gear out of transition in a huff, loading my stuff into my car and driving home, wanting to get away from it all as quickly as possible. I was ready to quit the sport and remember thinking, “What’s the point? I’ll never be any good! I’ll never be like the other athletes.” DRA-MA! (*Insert eye-roll here*)

But a few days later I started thinking about triathlon again – it tends to be a love-hate relationship at times. I started thinking about how to make things better. I spoke to other athletes, wrote down what worked, what didn’t, and had a look at my training and goals. Long story short, I ended up changing coaches to start making improvements. Personally, for me, that was exactly what I needed – a fresh perspective and a new, and personalised approach. One of my favourite quotes by Albert Einstein goes – “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I needed a shake up.

Twelve months later, it has paid off. I had a huge light bulb moment days out from, and during, the race on Sunday – my ‘aha’ moment.

I’m notorious for self-depreciation, comparing myself to others way too much and paying way too much attention to the clock – to how fast, or, in my case, how slow I’m going. I also tend to expect to be great at something in an instant, like what happens in a movie montage where the main character goes from zero to hero in a series of screen shots, with some inspiring music mixed in in the background (think the montage in ‘Rocky’). Sadly, this is not what happens in real life (damn you Hollywood!) and I’m typically left me feeling flat, frustrated and hating on myself because “I’m not good enough”. This negative snowball then continues and I get unmotivated with training because I think – “What’s the point anyway?”

But yesterday was different. After a chat to my coach, and to one of my tri besties who came along to support me at the race, I decided to go in with a completely different approach and attitude.

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Instead of worrying about my times I had two main goals going in:

  1. Don’t walk in the run, even at aid stations.
  2. Stay strong and consistent throughout the whole day – “It’s not a sprint. You don’t have to be fast, you have to be consistent.”

And it worked – tick and tick!

I stayed focused, positive, strong and consistent. I didn’t care what anyone else was doing, where they were up to or what was going on around me. My whole focus was on my own task at hand – to swim, bike and run to the best of my ability, based on my training and fitness level going in. And let’s be honest, looking back through TrainingPeaks, I didn’t exactly train like ‘Athlete of the Year’ leading in.

For the first time in a race I was completely in my own zone. I wasn’t focused on the time – in fact, at one point I even considered taking off my Garmin to avoid looking at the time (just in case I got all Negative Nancy if I saw a slower time). And, for the first time in a race I wasn’t comparing myself to others, or where they were, or what lap they were up to. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

So, while at the end of the day, I didn’t come away with a time-based PB (although, miraculously I did swim a touch faster than last year – ha!), I achieved PBs in so many other ways.

The swim was cold and a little bit choppy, and included a brief moment of panic and anxiety when I couldn’t catch my breath after swallowing, what felt like, the entire lake – thanks to one of the girls in my age group who spotted me and yelled out, “Just keep swimming. Keep moving forward.” The headwind on the bike was a bit blowy. It was all about “Get down low and go, go, go!” The run was always going to hurt and challenge me mentally. But I did it, I stayed strong and consistent and best of all I didn’t walk! Not even through the aid stations. Boom!

Knowing I achieved my milestones for the day, I was so ecstatic running down that finish chute this year, with a smile plastered across on my face. To know that I pushed hard and gave it all I had – that’s an amazing feeling.

So, where to from here? (*Insert soppy violin music*) Well, I’m motivated to continue kicking goals because if I can achieve what I set my mind to, like I did yesterday, I can achieve anything. I am good enough. And the time PB/speed will come – hopefully. But this sport is all about con-sis-ten-cy! ‘It won’t happen over night, but it will happen’.

Next stop? Consistency in training… after a little bit of a break – just kidding!

~ Margy Margs x

 

Image credit: Michelle Bond

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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