I’ve never quite understood it when people say they are “going to defend their title” upon returning to a race as the previous year’s winner. It seems more appropriate “I’m going with the goal of defending my title.” So when many asked me if I was ‘going to Ironman Texas to defend’, I guess I just saw it differently. The goal was, as with any race, go out and execute the absolute best of my ability; if that landed me on top, all the better. But I’ve often found it dangerous to become too focused on the top step of a podium, especially in an event such as Ironman, with so many variables that come into play. Becoming too fixated on a ‘title defense’ to me just seems misguided.
Many times I sit down to write post-race, it is positive; describing a result I worked hard for, how it all went down, and walk through a race experience I’m proud of; even if it wasn’t the perfect race. Well it isn’t all roses, the human body is not a machine, and this blog is not the former. It’s just the facts; and this past weekend in San Juan, my body was shit.
I envisioned the three weeks between Philippines and San Juan a perfect time to put in around 10 very solid days of training. Suffice to say things don’t always go according to plan. I came down with what seemed to be a minor cold upon the return; almost worse in that it was minor enough I ‘could’ train, I didn’t feel the need to see a doctor, but the workouts were up and down (one day I nailed it, the next day crummy). I pinned it on allergies but I’m fairly certain it was allergies turned cold. The week of San Juan, it seemed to ease up; but the final few days, even with a good load of recovery, my legs felt heavy; right into race day. I tried to stay optimistic; we’ve all had times that our bodies surprise us. But the gun sounded, and it felt like I had a lead weight on me. [..]
I’m a bit of a control freak. I like to eliminate the potential of added stress and I prefer that things flow as smoothly as possible. This is a large reason why I often choose races that are close by or, if not close in location, simple to travel to. I guess this isn’t anything to be ashamed of, as I view racing as a “job”; hence I consider the cost/benefit analysis before choosing events. But I have to admit, it felt kind of good to opt in for Challenge Philippines less than 6 weeks before the event; to embrace the adventure of it all, and to realize that yes while this is a job, there can also be a little room for adventure; and it isn’t a bad thing to ease your grip on control every so often.
This event was a first in a few ways; first Challenge race, but also our first time traveling to Southeast Asia. The opportunity came up somewhat last minute, and I decided why the hell not…being so early in the year, I figured it may be smaller event, it’d be an adventure and a good way to go and blow some cobwebs off. While I considered Challenge Dubai as well, when honest with myself, I wasn’t sure that I was prepared to step into such a big race. When I toe the line, especially at a very competitive race, I want to have the confidence I can contend for a win. Realistically, I had taken many months away from half distance racing. I felt like this was a good way to keep the nerves low but also get out and RACE; maybe with a bit less pressure. Little did I know how much I would be able to look back with amazing memories of not only a hard and fun race but incredible people, new friends made, and some crazy experiences that I’ll carry with me forever. [..]