Turning a Challenge Into Motivation
The most difficult and mentally challenging part of your race may become a powerful and positive motivator, not only for you but for those watching you. It’s in those moments you feel like giving up, not sure whether you will make it to the finish line or make the cutoff times, that these memories may energize you to get it done.
My second OWS Tri, Pensacola Triathlon in 2017 was my absolute worse swim thus far! But also a source of pride and strength to pull from when my head starts going into the negative zone during my swims. Pensacola Triathlon was to be my first Olympic distance Tri leading up to my first 70.3 distance. Pre-race day, the winds made the water choppy enough that the race director changed the course to remain inside the protected area. It became a three loop swim course. Race day, it was shortened to two loops.
As soon as I entered the waters, my anxiety level skyrocketed. The waves and salt water were taking a toll on me. I was in full panic mode and could not relax and find a rhythm. I did find buoys, paddler boards and a boat with a man with great advice. During the second lap, my stomach was queasy. He said to drink some water to help settle my stomach. I told him, I swallowed so much water, I did not want water. He insisted it would work. I accepted the bottle of water, he was right, it worked. Unfortunately, after hanging on to the boat for a bit, I started to lose my resolve to finish this swim. a paddle boarder, who I talked to while I was trying to come out of my panic attack, paddled over. She asked, do you realize how close you are? I told her that I really did not think I could fight the waves any longer. She told me to look for the orange exit buoy. Wow, is that really the exit? It was, I let go and swam as fast as I could before those negative thoughts came back. Once I started walking out of the water, the sprinters waiting for their race to begin, clapped and cheered for me. I may have been the last one out of the water, but they made me feel like a Rockstar! Later I learned that one of my teammates, pumped the crowd up to cheer for me. I was energized by their encouragement.
Ultimately, when I hit that finish chute, I was on cloud 9.
This memory is stored in my mind and kept at the ready. I fought to get out of the water, I never gave up! I did not quit! I finished what I set out to do. This horrible swim instilled confidence in me. I was no longer wondering whether I would be able to do the 70.3 in a month, I knew I would get Fort Worth Tri Done! And I did!
My bike motivating experience was during A River Roux, my 6th Triathlon in 2017 and my second 70.3 distance during my first season of racing open water. I was last out of the water again, however, this time there were no panic attacks or hanging on to boats, buoys or paddle boarders. After helping a few people with their gear in the warm changing tent, I finally got to my bike. Yep, I was the last one out of transition too.
This race was a substitute for IMNOLA 70.3 for which I registered but was canceled due to thunderstorms. The River Roux course was nothing like the flat windy NOLA route for which trained. It was a course was completely opposite of what I trained. It was hilly, NOLA is flat. It was cold and NOLA had been warm. It was a lonely, hilly, and windy 56 miles on my bike. I struggled and fought the negative and self-defeating thoughts that were running thru my mind. I made it back to transition with 11 minutes to change and head out for the run. I was able to pass a few people on the run. When I hit the finish chute I was excited and I was not DL either.
IMFL70.3 was a way out of my league and on top of it, I was untrained and an emotional wreck. My Mom had passed away in January and the race was in early April. I did not have the energy or the mindset to train initially. But with the help of my coach, Angie Brown, and remembering my Mom’s excitement, when we discussed racing in my first Ironman branded race, I took the plunge and flew to Haines City as originally planned. The run was hillier than I would have imagined, and to make it worse it was as a loop course. After the first loop, I was definitely praying that I would not DNF. I have never seen so many people walking in a race before. The temperature was rising adding stress to an already challenging run. The saving grace was that you looped back into Ironman Village. The crowd there was electrifying. During the last few miles, I was feeling spent, my hips and legs were on fire! I kept trying to get my feet to move a little faster but they felt like bricks. As I turned the corner, I could both see and hear the crowd. That was all I needed, my feet started to move then I crossed the finish line. No DNF!
I am grateful that I can call on these memories when the swim, bike or run feel overwhelming. They remind me that I have the determination and capacity to get it done! I am sure you have some memories of tough aspects of a race, too! Think about them when the race course or life gets tough. You are strong, persistent and have the capability to get it DONE!
by Angele Sanders, Siren Luminary
Follow Angele on Instagram @nolagel