Raise your hand if your entire life has gone exactly as planned.
Raise your hand if every race you’ve ever done went exactly as expected.
I’ve watched in both excitement and horror as life events have unfolded before my eyes. Some things have gone off without a hitch, exactly how I had imagined and planned. While other events and twists have fallen apart without warning.
It’s like this in races too. With Ironman you have a set plan, but sometimes things just fall apart no matter how much you prepare. A smart person never goes into an Ironman thinking “I’m just going to wing this and hope for the best.” There is a lot of planning involved in long course races. Your nutrition is timed out to the exact hour and mile. Your paces are calculated with fluid intake. You have race plans A, B and C regarding weather and heat. You train. You plan. You set goals. You chase dreams. You always plan for your best race and for perfect conditions, yet so rarely does race day arrive and everything go this way.
It’s just not realistic.
Somewhere during the course of the day you will miss a pace. You will get tired. You will freak out. The heat will get to you. The road will seem too tough. Lots of things will go wrong. But do you throw in the towel when things don’t go exactly as planned? Do you hit mile 100 and think “Nah, this isn’t the race I trained for. This isn’t the time goal I wanted for myself”? Some people quit like this. But never in my wildest dreams could I imagine doing that.
Just because things don’t go as planned doesn’t mean the entire experience and all the effort is wasted.
And it’s like this in life too. Times when rejection feels tough. When opportunities that you had wanted so tremendously fall right through your fingers. Days where the rules are hard and fast and it doesn’t seem fair. Again you think “Nah, this isn’t how it was supposed to be. This isn’t the outcome I wanted.” And do you give up then?
Of course not.
With life and in races — just because the wheels fall off somewhere along the way doesn’t mean the entire experience is wasted and race day is ruined. The race and the opportunity is still salvageable.
Sometimes you just need to focus on playing the cards you were dealt. You can drive yourself crazy thinking about how unfair it was or you can waste your energy looking for someone to blame. Or you can adjust your attitude accordingly and show up for yourself.
Instead you develop a new mindset and new plan. So you adjust the brim of your hat and find a new pace. Maybe it wasn’t the pace you had trained for, but forward is still the direction you’re headed. You consult your race plans and see that plans A, B and C didn’t work. So you accept it and focus on what’s next. Maybe that’s race plans D, E or F. But those plans are your new opportunities, despite how you got there.
Even in crappy races I have still looked up and felt lucky to be out there. Even when I felt like my lungs were burning and every step was forced, I still felt grateful to feel the sun on me. And in life now, even when I feel frustrated by the details and how things played out for me, it doesn’t mean it’s the end. I still have an opportunity. Life is still good. My heart is still beating. Things will be ok.
Failure is only an attitude. It is not the final outcome. You must learn to move forward with a new pace, a new attitude and a new race plan.
Smiling at the spectators never hurts either 😉