Sunday, 20 July 2008

a big step forward...

Doesn't time just fly... in a blink here we are two weeks on from Germany and already working toward new and improved goals ;) Sorry that my race report is yet to surface but having driven the 1750km back from Klagenfurt in one go, arriving back in Leeds at 6am on Wednesday morning and with Helen's brother Jonny visiting from Friday (great to see you and Kirsten mate) my feet have hardly touched the floor.

I thought I'd use today's entry to clear a couple of things up as although the support we've received from everyone has been amazing the feeling from quite a few people regarding my race seems to be that I failed to achieve my goal, must have done something wrong with regards training or taper and generally had a bit of a shocker... whilst at the same time maintaining a good old 'stiff upper lip'. Comments like 'oh well, at least you finished' and 'you could do with eating a bit more' along with various suggestions as to how I could have prepared/trained better have been common place as people assume I've had the triathlon equivalent of missing an open goal to win the world cup final.

Therefore, although a full and detailed reflection of the whole 50 week journey is on its way, I'd like to state two things having allowed myself a good 14 days to think things over...

1. I really am over the moon with my performance both training for Germany and during the race itself and consider the whole thing to be a significant step toward achieving my ultimate goal of reaching the Ford Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

2. I honestly believe that I gave my absolute all to the entire process, wouldn't change anything about what I did from the start of training to crossing the finish line and am confident that on 'another day' I may well have exceeded my time goal of 9 hours and 25 minutes.

I think the problem is that, in general, success or failure is judged in a very short term results based way. For example if a team plays great all season but misses out on winning the cup by a couple of bad decisions from the ref or unlucky twists of fate there's an immediate enquiry as to what they've done wrong and who must be to blame... which normally results in the manager getting the boot. However, if a team flukes their way to glory via an injury time, offside, giant bobble of a goal than the 'cracks' are instantly papered over and all concerned are treated as heroes. As my uncle Roger says, the worst thing that ever happened to England was beating the Germans 5-1... it took years of consistent under performing before we finally saw through him as a manager... short term results are seldom a predictor of long term success, you only have to look at Alex Ferguson (sorry Andy).

So here I am... its been a brilliant season so far, massive pb's over both half and full marathon distance, winning my age group in one of the the toughest half-ironman races in the world (which qualified me for the 70.3 equivalent of Kona), several solid performances in other triathlons, duathlons and time trials and a sub ten hour Ironman... no doubt if I had a manager he'd be receiving his p45 shortly ;) ... So far this has been the best season of my life and with some lofty goals set for the National Long Distance Triathlon Championships on September the 6th I'm looking to round it off in style.

Getting back to the bottom line though, I missed my time goal of 9.25 by over 30 minutes and went three minutes slower than last year on a (supposedly) faster course... doesn't sound like much return for 50 weeks of suffering? However....

I had a truly breakthrough performance in the one discipline where I doubted my Hawaii credentials... the swim. I know it was a little short so the official time of 54.03 isn't quite as great as it seems but at 113th out of 1908 male athletes I exited the water in the top 5.9% which compared to 14% in Switzerland '07 and 16.5% in Austria '06 represents significant progress and isn't bad for my 'weakest' discipline.

At half-way on the bike I was a few minutes under five hour pace and although I wasn't able to hang on for the whole 180k it was far from scary. Finishing in 5.09 on pretty much the opposite of a 'magic' day I'm confident that the Yorkshire Dales will provide enough of a challenge over the next ten months to raise my game to the desired level.

As for the run... it's important to note that I blew up before the final 26.2 miles rather than during, and with athletes of similar 'stand alone' run ability to me posting Ironman marathon splits significantly under three and a half hours at both Austria and Germany this year, I'm confident that if I can get off the bike in more respectable condition something close to 3.15/3.20 is possible.

My two triathlon heroes are Mark Allen and Chris McCormack, who took seven and six attempts respectively to achieve their own personal goal of winning the greatest endurance race on earth and yet are regarded as two of the greatest Ironman athletes (THE in the case of Allen) of all time.

The 50 weeks to Kona have been a valuable learning process, I've had a taste of what it will take to qualify for the Big Island and am a huge step closer to achieving that goal. I'll leave you with a quote which Helen wrote on a card she gave me the night before my first Ironman of this life changing journey...

"Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true"
- Leon I Suenes

Stay positive and believe,


p.s. In a fit of motivation and thanks to some amazing inspiration from our mate Gabriel in Austria we've both entered Ironman Switzerland 2009 to follow on seven weeks after Ironman Lanzarote in May... hold tight ;)


Debra said...

Oh my god you two never cease to amaze - two in seven weeks?????

Before I got to the P.S I wanted to beat the crap out of a number of your apparent critics. There is no way you two could have tried harder. It wasn't meant to be then but it will be one day. I may not have done as many races by any measure but anyone who has knows there are good days and bad no matter what amount of training you have done leading up to a race

I am thrilled to to doing my first sprint triathlon on 14th September and we are hoping to enter Andy too once his LBT number comes... that is what a year of this blog does to your mates, but as for your mates on the picture nuts springs to mind!!

Jevon said...

No criticisms here mate. Just acknowledgement of a superb season so far. Still more to come.

runtilyoudrop said...

If you dont bust 9.30 at swissroll land then I will have to kick your butt:-).

You've had a fantastic season.

See you at he vit... and snowdon?.. and lanza... and IMCH.


Anonymous said...

The way I see Tom is that when I get to the finish line I want to know i've given everything. I think we can tell from your picture that you had nothing left to give so for me thats job done regardless of the result. And I've got a picture just like that too!
And if i had the money I'd love to join you in Lanza.