Yesterday was a very special day. Not only was it a picturesque Minnesota summer day but it also marked the one-year anniversary of my title as triathlete. Last year on that day I participated in the Lake Minnetonka Sprint Triathlon and after finishing I could officially claim my title as triathlete.
This year I had a spectacular day. The only controllable element that stood in my way was myself. The weather was a bit too hot for this kind of exertion but I promised myself I'd shut that out and focus on what I could control. What was nice about that was it paid off. My times were, in my opinion, stellar.
But that brings me to the truly remarkable part of the event. In as much as my results impress me, what I'm more impressed with is the positive mental attitude (PMA) I carried with me. For quite a while my frame of mind while competing in any athletic event was less than positive. I focused on beating other people, being aggressive, and beating myself up when I got passed. This event was different though. I made a conscious effort to take out the trash and realize that out there in the field my only opponent was me.
That, combined with a healthy focus on carrying God with me during the event really paid off.
Not once during the swim did I get excited, angry, frustrated, or start to panic when I didn't catch a breath. Every stroke was smooth and in sync. To top that off I had an exceptional time sighting (e.g. making sure I was still swimming in the right direction.) Normally I sight ever 3-4 strokes. This time I sighted ever 4-6 strokes and kept swimming in pretty much a straight line. Simply incredible.
Both T1 and T2 were great as well. Smooth and relaxed. Except for one part where I am kind of ashamed of myself. The volunteers kept asking us what our BIB number was. You know. The number that's written on our calf and arms. Honestly, when I'm in competition mode my mind is focused on virtually ANYTHING except that. I completely forgot what my number was and was quick to the draw to let them know that. I feel ashamed for my quick and rude reaction. However, to ask an athlete what his BIB number is when all he's thinking about is how quickly can he get to his bike is very aggravating.
The bike leg was pretty straight forward. My friend Randall loaned me one of his bikes because mine is being shipped to Oregon for next weeks half Ironman. The fit was a bit off but I didn't care. My focus was on making sure I kept my PMA. Biking is my weak point. I'll just be up front about it. It's going to take me a long time and a lot of hard work to become a good biker. But until then I continue to keep a realistic focus about where I am with it and keep practicing good form and smart gear shifting. And when I got passed, which happened often, I didn't let it get to me. Instead I kept repeating to myself: "My only competitor out here is me." That really helped to keep things in perspective and kept my focus in check. The true miracle for me on the bike was the fact that I didn't get angry or frustrated once.
During the run I had a nasty cramp on my right side that wouldn't subside no matter how hard I tried to get rid of it so for 3 miles I put up with it. But that was fine because I still had an average of 7:06/mile.
At the end of the day I managed to beat every single timed portion over last year. The two transitions and the three disciplines. I was faster this year in every single one. That, combined with a healthy dose of PMA and God are the true victory stories for me that day.
Pacific Crest here I come.