I’m more than a week out from my most difficult race experience ever. It was such an up and down experience that I’m still processing what happened. Here is what I’ve learned.
- Racing is more mental than physical. My meltdown at St. George was mental. I said in my earlier post that I fell apart in Snow Canyon upon realizing what I thought was a flat was actually a hill. It was a tough hill, but my mind failed and that led to my inability to pedal. The problem wasn’t my body.
- My mind failure had little to do with the race itself. I was stressed and emotional during the few weeks leading up to the race. I was struggling personally. I had a hip issue that caused me a great deal of uncertainty. I didn’t have the company and support I’m used to having on these trips. I hadn’t slept well the night before the race. I just wasn’t calm, and that affected my performance.
- My meltdown occurred in a safe place. A dear friend who used to live in the St. George area told me this morning that where I was – Snow Canyon State Park – is a sacred ground. I pedaled into that area carrying with me a great deal of emotion that I then poured out into that space. Certainly, it would have been better not to meltdown during a race, but if I had to meltdown, I could not have picked a more appropriate spot to be embraced and supported by the spirit of the place.
- My head is more clear now. After the race, I had a wonderful time with Paula and her family. We enjoyed an indulgent dinner that evening and then soaked in a hot tub under the stars. The next day, we went to Zion National Park before I got on a plane to head home. Since getting home, I’ve regrouped. I’ve gotten back into work, writing and training. I think unloading a bunch of drama in St. George was good for me.
- I’m stronger than I was. I got through a rough few weeks before the race and an incredibly tough course in less than ideal conditions. I also came back with a heart to return to St. George in 2014 to redeem myself on that particular course and a clear sense of readiness to tackle the weeks leading up to Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I may not always be strong, but I do think I am continually getting stronger.
With Coeur d’Alene less than six weeks away, these are important lessons for me. I need to remember that mind preparation is as important as training. I need to keep a clear head and insist on no distractions and no drama before my race. I need to believe in and stand on my own strength. I also need to trust that, if I keep doing what I think I should be doing, the universe and people who love me will meet me where I am, and it’ll be fine.