When it comes to race performance I think we all either secretly or otherwise believe we can or should be faster. I think it’s what keeps a lot of us coming back for more, the belief that we can still compete (often just with ourselves). I’m no different, here I am coming back for another crack at Kona. I’ve no illusions just yet of getting into the best shape of my life in just the 8 months I’ve allowed for it but, going on previous years results at Ironman Mallorca I will need to go about 20 minutes faster than I’ve ever done before to qualify for Kona. So I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I believe I can. Get faster that is. I think I have the potential. But having the potential and delivering are two very different things.
In 2013 I actually was in the best shape of my life in all three sports. So much so that I was thinking I could have a really good chance at cracking the other holy grail of Ironman (after Kona) a sub 9. With 8 weeks to go to my first ironman of the year, Challenge Roth, while heading into the swimming pool one morning I was parking the Vespa but lost my balance and it fell over on top of me landing mostly on my right leg and foot. I was cleverly wearing flip flops and shorts (lots of protection there in the event of an accident) and when I managed to extricate myself from under it I looked at my bloody, rapidly blackening and swelling foot and my only thought (apart from the banging, thudding pain) was how could I keep on training if I’d broken it. Mostly embarrassed at this stage for doing something stupid I hurriedly restarted the scooter and went home to see how bad the damage was.
It turned out it wasn’t broken but I couldn’t run for over 6 weeks and couldn’t put on a bike shoe for close to 2 weeks until the swelling went down enough to squash my mid-shapen foot into a rigid cycling shoe.
So begins my could’ve, would’ve, should’ve story. I could’ve gone sub 9 except I didn’t, I didn’t even crack 9:30, so therefore my potential and six months of hard training were wasted.
There’s a very Irish saying that goes “if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle”
But luckily for her she doesn’t and therefore isn’t.
Ironman is a very hard sport to train for, it’s even harder to reach what we think or believe our potential is. It’s not just how hard the training is or the level of commitment and sacrifice needed but everything else also has to go right. I’d had three years of good solid, consistent training leading up to that season and started preparation already in great shape. But even then I needed everything else to go perfectly. Luck certainly plays a part but I think to a large extent we make our own luck, mostly by not doing the stupid stuff like driving a motorbike in flip flops and shorts. Proper shoes that day would probably have saved me from the worst of the injury. Again, would’ve, could’ve, should’ve, but didn’t.
I don’t feel like I’m in sub 9 shape at the moment or even heading towards it. Luckily I shouldn’t need to be to qualify for Kona in Mallorca in September but even so I will need to go faster than I ever have. I feel like I have the potential.
But potential means nothing until you convert it to accomplishment.
I’ve qualified for Kona before so I have something of an advantage over those who haven’t yet as regards experience but without ticking every other box being fit and experienced won’t be enough. I need to not do stupid stuff and hopefully be somewhat lucky too.
I have written a report examining how 5 of the most successful Irish Ironman triathletes have qualified for Kona an incredible 29 times. You can access it free here.
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