What I Learnt From A Race That Didn’t Go To Plan

So sometimes, even the best intentions don’t mean that everything that you want to happen, happens! This last weekend was the first race of my triathlon season, and I was pumped. It had been a little while in between races for me for a number of reasons and so I was really looking forward to getting amongst it again for the first time in a little while.

The day before the race, I could feel those excited inner anticipations of the race building up inside me, I collected my pack, it was really happening and I packed my bag the afternoon before ready for a early start the next morning, packing was much easier and quicker than I remember – surely a good sign for a good race the next day. IMG_1395 2 (1)

So up I get at 5am the next morning, the next morning being a Sunday, I get myself ready, Mark puts my bike on the car and off we go for a 45min drive to get to the event. The drive to the event is always interesting. It is a mixture of controlling your nerves, while also preparing yourself for a good race. Music usually works for me, yesterday it was having a great conversation with Mark on the way there.

We arrive, I get into transition, set up my site, check my location in transition – you can lose vital minutes if you are running around transition looking for your bike – and then I was ready to go. As I was waiting for the race to start, I did notice my heart was beating and I was a little nervous, it had been a little while since I had been on the start line, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. IMG_1397

Baaahh! And we’re off, my age group wave gets started and it is the swim leg up first. Traditionally my weakest leg of the triathlon but today I found myself keeping up with the pack and this was unfamiliar to me. The water was more turbulent with so many bodies swimming as fast as possible to get to that buoy. Normally i’m at the back of the pack and I have my own space and calmer water to find my rhythm. Well it turns out that was to be my outcome for this swim yet again because the new swim conditions sent me into a bit of a tail spin, I panicked and I chose to hang back, catch my breathe and then carry on. There were definitely glimpses of thoughts of pulling out in the early stages but I knew I had to finish the swim, to have a positive experience to carry forward with me to the next race. In my mind as I completed the swim I made a pact with myself to do some more squad open water swims – I had found my next challenge.

So it was with relief that I got out of the swim and I was into the bike leg, a much stronger leg for me. We had a great tail wind for the first half of the lap which felt great – I was flying. I knew I could gain some time on the bike leg so a worked to my optimum threshold – not too high to burn out too soon but high enough to give it my all for the race…little did I realise all the speed in the world wasnt going to help me for what was next. I got three quarters of the way through my bike leg and suddenly noticed my back wheel felt wobbly…”uh-oh I think I have a flat tyre”. My first ever flat tyre in a race!! Well, I didn’t have a repair kit, so that was it, I hopped of my bike, turned around and did all I could do which was walk back with my bike in hand. As I started walking, I will admit that my first thought was “that’s it, my race is done for the day”. I sat with that thought for a moment, and while I was disappointed, I knew that there was nothing I could do about changing the fact that I now had a flat tyre. All I could do was be reasonable with myself about it. But then another thought popped into my head “but what about my goals for this year, this was going to be one of my goals and now I can’t check it off!!” Now that made me really disappointed. I had made a firm commitment to make my goals happen this year, not to let myself ‘off the hook’ which I felt I had done at times in the past. So I had to finish, no matter what, I had to finish this triathlon…how was I going to do it?

My mind went into creative mode knowing that it is about achieving the outcome, despite how you go about doing it, as long as you get there. Just like going to the shops for coffee, doesn’t matter what road you take to get there, as long as you get there and you get your coffee, right?! So that was when I decided that I would walk and hitch (with the rescue vehicle on course) back to transition, rack up my bike and run the course just as I planned.

So I get to transition, and I get out on the run course. I get my legs moving again and I’m feeling good. About one third of the way through the course, my friend who I have been training triathlon with for the past 2 years runs past me going the other way. The turn around point is only a little way ahead which means she is not far in front of me. I decide in that moment that I’m going to run to catch up with her because something that we have never done in the whole 2 years of training and competing together is be able to cross the finish line together, something that I thought would be great to do. I pick up my pace and I keep my eyes open looking for her ahead as I run to catch up with her. Eventually I get there, it took me a few km’s but I eventually got to her and we did finish the run together crossing the finish line at the same time…so good! If it hadn’t been for the flat tyre, that probably wouldn’t have happened because our start wave times were quite far apart. There’s a silver lining in every story. IMG_1396 (2)

So all up, I had a great day, I got a training session into my day and I got to create a great experience to share with a good friend of mine – an unexpected bonus. Sometimes things don’t go to plan, but when you open your mind to letting alternative experiences take place, this can be really powerful. Commonly athletes like to work to highly detailed plans, for many reasons including it allows them to measure their performance and track their improvements. The athletes however, who also have the ability to re-plan their action plan will always come out on top because there is often something that happens that is outside of our control and it is how you respond that determines how successful you will be.

Until next time, here’s to being the best version of you, you can be.

Sharon

 

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