23 November 2021

Ironman Arizona 2021

 I enjoyed getting to coach and spectate at probably my favorite Ironman race this past Sunday. It’s my favorite because I have a long history of racing there, having done my first IM there in 2009 and, as of now, having done 9 there altogether. I also have a love for the desert and Arizona that started in my college days. While it felt a little weird to be there and NOT be racing, I also knew that I was in no shape to race well at this time. I enjoyed trying to support and spectate for the 2 athletes I coach, John Sheridan and Jason Dubovsky that were there. 

Here I sit playing the “what if” game despite not really achieving good racing form this year.  As many people know, my ultimate goal has been to qualify to the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Before I earned a spot on the list for a “legacy slot” (finishing 12 IMs back in 2018) I came close to qualifying a couple of times, missing it by 1 place one year and by 3 places another year. So, even though the legacy slot will eventually allow me to go to Kona, I still look at finish results and think “what if?” What if I was in very good Ironman shape and capable of coming reasonably close to my best (or even my 1st) Ironman time? It’s hard not to look and wonder. And even though I know I’m not the same athlete I was in 2015 (11:29) or 2009 (12:32) I can’t help myself. 

I looked at the finishing times with the understanding that there’s only 1 Kona slot. I knew that my friend Kurt Madden would be very hard to beat. He finished first in 11:23 but may already have a slot - he has the right of first refusal. 2nd place was 11:57, 3rd was 12:50, and 4th was 13:23. Of course conditions are variable and are different each year but those times gave me hope for a solid place, even if Kona wasn’t available. 

And the point of all this? Motivation. I’ve struggled to find motivation since qualifying for a legacy slot. Among a few key ingredients to being your best in an Ironman is consistency. Being consistent with training can overcome other weaknesses. Being consistent and doing appropriate training for what’s need for a race like this is a big key. It is difficult to be consistent when motivation flags. When you have multiple goals, multiple reasons to train you are more likely to be successful in doing what you need to day after day. You don’t have to think about it as much because the reasons are there, making the decision to train and making that a priority makes consistency much easier to maintain for the long haul that Ironman training can be. It also helps other key components be easier to execute: things like eating like a disciplined athlete, working towards race weight, sleeping enough to maximize recovery, etc. are all easier to keep up with

While I had already been jolted awake by my slow Oceanside 70.3 race and had made some changes to my training, this reminder, this additional motivation, just added to the desire to continue working to achieve things. This watching of IMAZ 2021 from the sidelines gave me something I wasn’t expecting - what a bonus that is!

So what does that mean for you? This is just one example of what kind of thinking you might want to do during December, before the start of 2022. Figure out what motivates you to get off the couch, overcome your possible inertia, and gets you moving and physically active. Figure out multiple reason why you want to do something. Figure out what motivates, or will motivate, you. It doesn’t have to be competition-focused. It could be something to do with your health or weight or fitness, your mental wellbeing, your resilience, your ability to do things as you age, or even something like being an active part of a community or maintaining friendships. Find “it”; find your “why”. Then figure out how you’ll achieve them. It takes planning and awareness and building habits.

If you ask me, movement is something doctors should literally write a prescription for, just as they do medications and such. It’s important for your health and wellbeing. 

I encourage you to keep moving because age could be gaining on you!

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