So here I am, at my third Ironman for the year, and the third Ironman I am watching. When I say watching, I mean I am glimpsing it for the first 10 hours now and again. I was up early and saw the swim start, it is always a spectacular sight and here it was one of the best swims to watch I’ve ever seen. An appearance at transition, a TV interview for 10 seconds, another interview, then maybe a nap, watch the winners win, a swim, then I really will start to watch it. When the finish line becomes a non stop parade of guts, glory, pride, joy, and pain. It’s so good to watch ☺ And even better to hand out medals to those who have just finished and become an IRONMAN!
Jaim and I arrived yesterday after 24 hrs in planes, plus a bunch more time at airports between our 4 flights to get here. Brisbane – Singapore – Frankfurt – Vienna – Klagenfurt. But it is great to be here. It is a beautiful small town of 100, 000 people, built for horses and medieval times with a huge town square, narrow roads, and a great history you can feel as you walk though downtown and some great café’s and shops.
No surprise our bikes did not make the 4 flights with us, and we are still waiting. Hopefully they arrive today so they can be built and ridden Monday and Tuesday before packing them up again Tuesday afternoon and taking the two flights to get back to Frankfurt. Some would say it’s not an ideal prep for any race, let alone the European Championships against a stacked field, but personally, I’m ok with it.
Such a long travel requires some good rest before doing anything strenuous. So a light jog this morning, maybe a swim later, then an easy ride tomorrow (if our bikes arrive), would be perfect. Travelling to Frankfurt Tuesday afternoon/evening is not great, and I wish we could drive the 7hrs over 2 days instead of fly but the cost of car hire for a mini van big enough for bikes, bike cases, and dropping of in another country don’t seem worth the saving of no time at all.
This, the appearance stuff, is a part of my job. And I really enjoy it, and I want to get better at it. I’d rather be a great ambassador with average results up until winning Hawaii year after year, than lock myself away for the entire year, never experience anything other than winning, and never take the time out to learn from year to year how to improve my career outside of racing, and at the same time how to get the perfect race from myself in Kona and improve that from year to year.
Balance is talked about in our sport constantly. Balance of swim/bike/run, but mostly about balance of training and all the other aspects of life. It’s not talked about just to pass the time and because there is nothing else to talk about – the need for balance is real. Understanding what you are balancing is not so much talked about. We are, if you think about it, trying to balance STRESS. And that means balancing hard (stressful) and easy (relaxing) sessions, and also finding some middle ground so your hard sessions are not too stressful. It also means sleeping, eating well, laughing, spending time enjoying other things that don’t require any kind of stress, and allow your body to recover from those stressful times.
I have always been a fragile athlete. I was tested a million times for all sorts of deficiencies since I was about 15. It took another 15 years to embrace my fatigue and understand that listening to my body was the key to my success. I am lucky to have had this journey and all it’s downs. I have learnt what balance means by being unable to do anything other than have balance – times when I could not even ride 10mins before I needed to turn for home as I had no energy physically or mentally to ride a bike.
I am a delicate human. Physically I am not able to cope with the amount of stress that other people can. Only by acknowledging and embracing who I am, was I able to become the best in the world.
So I go in to this week, my taper week for Frankfurt Ironman, accepting what I will and will not fit in this week, and that for every session that I miss because I am doing an appearance, or because my bike doesn’t turn up, I am gaining more rest, or experience, or knowledge for the future.