“Overly competitive people often lose sight of the fact that striving for excellence and beating others are two different things”
I didn’t think I needed to write this. Yet here we are. I’ve spent the last 8 months lying to myself. When I started this journey, I started it for a number of reasons; my passion for the sport, to find my limits and for Julie. Truth be told there was a fourth motivator, I wanted to win. At every Ironman, there are exclusive slots given to the top competitors to compete at the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. For females in my age category, there is a single slot at each race. One girl gets it, no exceptions.
I’ve been pretty good at not sharing this goal. Maybe a dozen or so people know that this is my ultimate goal. Yet, even those few people don’t truly know how much I am gunning for that slot. I have read enough materials and heard enough triathlon podcasts to know how detrimental having unrealistic expectations for your first Ironman race can be. So I became very good at downplaying the dream and constantly tell people, “oh that’s a longshot… so much can happen on the day of… you can’t control who shows up.”
I told those people all the things I desperately wanted to believe. I thought if I said it enough times I would start believing it and would stop obsessing. Yes, this has become an obsession. The minute the competitor list for Tremblant was released I crept every girl in my category. From past race results to current training they have done (thank you Strava) I had an entire report on everyone. A friend had a great analogy for this behavior; ‘Creeping these girls is the equivalent of someone in a break-up creeping their ex, you know it’s bad but you can’t help yourself!”
I knew it was bad, particularly now that half ironman race season has begun. For the past 3 weekends, I’d check the recent results to see if any of these girls raced. On Monday, I noticed a girl in my category (that’s signed up for Tremblant) finished Eagleman 70.3 in 5:01 hours. For reference, this is considered a competitive time in the Female PRO division. For further reference, my 70.3 PB (translation: half Ironman personal best) is 6:20 hours. This has been my ultimate wake up call. Back to the analogy, this moment was like finally seeing your ex has moved onto someone else (in this case someone is so fast it’s totally unrealistic) and you finally realize all you can do is your best and let everyone else do their thing.
Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with having a dream. The Kona dream is very much alive. BUT the message has seemed to have finally hit home. There is absolutely nothing I can do to control other peoples’ races. I can, however, control myself. I can show up on race day having put more heart into this journey than my competitors. I can go out there and give it my all. That most likely still won’t be enough for that slot. And for once, I can confidently say I am perfectly okay with that. My number one goal should be to cross that finish line. It doesn’t matter how fast I am, how many people finish before or behind me. What matter is that I went out there and gave it my everything. If I do that then I can continue to pursue this sport with the same level of passion I have right now.
Kona is not the be all end all. It does not make me more of an Ironman if I were to someday qualify. Almost all Kona qualifiers make sacrifices I am certainly not ready to make and many train 15-25 hours year-round for 3-6 years before they get their first slot. This will be my very first Ironman, my second year riding a road bike and the first time I’ve consistently trained for anything in my life. I need to start respecting this sport for what it is. I need to use my competitiveness to strive for excellence not to beat others.
So this is me truthfully committing pursuit of excellence.