Mistakes, we all make them but I think in Ironman it is especially important to keep them to a minimum as we get so few chances to race each year. Learning from others mistakes is one of the ways to do it. Unfortunately some of us just do much better at learning from our own. I am also a big believer in making as many of my mistakes as possible in training so as to be able to learn from and avoid them in racing. I think including key sessions that teach pacing, nutrition and self control in a build up is as important as getting fit enough to do the race.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone who finished an Ironman saying everything went perfectly and I paced it so well that I ran hard right to the end then collapsed. The collapsing usually happens because we’ve paced it badly and are only holding it together to crawl across the finish line. But as these guys have said again and again pacing and finishing strong is key in Ironman. Martin Muldoon who has obviously gotten the hang of this right from the start after qualifying at his first attempt at his first Ironman says poor pacing and pushing hard too early in his first race was the worst mistake he has made. He has learned well from it having qualified at every attempt since.
Owen Martin again highlights one of the factors that is critical to success, dealing with problems that would normally put an end to most peoples races. Saying that “Probably biggest mistake I have made in racing is starting knowing my Shimano di2 (electronic gear shifting) was not working and racing with one gear!”
Bryan Mc Crystal admits to making a crucial mistake in his prep for Ironman 70.3 Galway but that he has learned from it “I was in great shape for IM Galway 70.3 the first year (2011 I think). I did most if not all my bike training on the turbo. Weather on race day was brutal and I suffered really bad with the cold. Since then I always train in the elements”
Matt Molloy admits to making a rather funny mistake, twice. “I forgot my bike going to a Time Trial (twice)” He didn’t elaborate on how he dealt with it though.
Alan Ryan missed going sub 9 in Roth because, he says “When I race it’s very much tunnel vision. I am focused totally on getting to the finish line. This has meant that occasionally I have missed important information on my peripheral vision. In Roth I missed a turn on the run that added a couple of kilometers to my marathon. It was partly responsible for me missing out on a sub nine” He adds that he has made a couple of similar mistakes in Barcelona and Mallorca Ironman’s “In Barcelona I did something similar on the bike adding twelve kilometers. This year in Mallorca I sprinted straight past the finish line before some spectators turned me around. You have to laugh and not take it all too seriously”.
Declan Doyle almost mirrors Martin and Alan’s comments here saying that racing someone else’s race on the bike was his biggest error leading to walking lots of the marathon. Ten minutes gained over 180k on the bike can be lost by walking just 1km of the run.