© Eric Wynn 2013
Ironman World Championships
Kona, HI ✮ 2013.10.12
Learn from the past. Prepare for the future. Perform in the present. – Gary Mack.
Confidence is knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do. – Alan Brunacini
I struggled quite a bit trying to figure out what I, if anything, I wanted to write about my race in Kona. I’d already promised the crew at LAVA magazine to do a debrief going over the things – practical things – that I learned from the race; that article will be published in the Kona issue and probably also on lavamagazine.com. And I spent a long time on the Slowtwitch forums right after the race talking in a mixture of catharsis and brainstorming. I think I’ve probably written more than I’ve written about any race on the topic of Kona 2013, which is actually a race I’d like to forget, not immortalize on the internet.
Ultimately, I failed to prepare appropriately for the environmental conditions of this race. I failed to prepare in advance, physiologically, and I failed to take steps on race day to mitigate the consequences. There are plenty of great quotes about learning more from failure than success, finding the silver lining, etc. I don’t really want to go down that road. I suppose it might make me feel better, but really I think it’s really just an exercise in self-deception.
I learned a lot from the mistakes I made. I will be better prepared next year. But I also know well enough that there might not be a next year. Not to be fatalistic, but I think it’s most important – as an athlete – to recognize that competition is a finite opportunity. And I squandered a very rare and special chance. I had an enormous amount of good luck in both the preparation and the race itself, and I wasted that. There are countless things that actually are out of your control that can go wrong and ruin a race. So it’s disappointing to have not been able to realize the full extent of the opportunity before me because of a whole multitude of things that were in my control.
In sport, you need to have a short memory when it comes to self-pity and depression. And you need a long memory when it comes to that sense of failure that accompanies underperformance. Forget about what happened, but also never forget how it felt. I believe I did a lot of things right before and during the race. And I did a few important things wrong – both by action and inaction – before and during the race. In particular, on race day, I rushed. Why? For a variety of reasons. I lacked the confidence to be patient. I got caught up in the race. Etc, etc. The typical stuff. I needed to “make haste slowly” (festina lente). And now I have to wait a year for another chance to do so. Until then, I think it’s most appropriate to borrow the motto of my friend and mentor Simon Whitfield, who just announced his retirement after one of the most remarkable careers in the sport of triathlon. Simon was a master of performing on the biggest of big stages. The larger the opportunity, the more he rose to the occasion with his performance. It was about showing up on the day and performing in the present. And about preparing for the future. And about learning from the past. It was always about the relentless pursuit.
The clock is already ticking. Time to be relentless.