One of my favorite races was this past weekend– the Mooseman Half Ironman on Newfound Lake, NH. This was my third time doing the Mooseman Half Ironman (I’ve done the international distance a couple of times before as well, when it was known as Granite Ledges), and this race always seems to pose a major challenge for me. Last year it was the intense heat (90+ degrees and high humidity) and this year it was a flat tire on the bike. The race got me thinking about adversity during the race and how to deal with it (like a moose!).
I love doing the Mooseman for multiple reasons, one of the main ones being that the race organizer, Keith Jordan, does an absolutely fantastic job organizing the race– it’s a ‘must do’ for any triathlete (and worth traveling to if you’re from out of state). Keith really focuses on the little details, which make a huge difference. From entertainment along the course to well-laid out aid stations to a fantastic post-race spread, his events are the best (check out his other events at www.timbermantri.com).
However, none of Keith’s attention to detail changes the fact that it is a very challenging course. With it’s rolling hills-dominated bike and a not-so-flat run, the Mooseman will provide you a good test for you to overcome. The swim is in beautiful Lake Newfound, which is one of the cleanest lakes in North America, but can be a bit on the cool side (yesterday was about 59 degrees) in early June. From the onset, you have to be ready to deal with the challenges of the course.
In my case, my main challenge came when I flatted at mile 40 and had some difficulties getting the tire on and off (new tires tend to be less flexible), which added a bunch of time to my bike and overall results. In the scheme of things, I can’t complain as it’s my first flat ever in a race. Considering how many races I’ve done, one flat is pretty good. Nonetheless, it is frustrating when you’ve trained so hard for the event to have a flat throw a big monkey wrench into your plans.
Adversity is part of the sport and it’s important to have a game plan for dealing with it. Some things to think about if you find yourself facing an unplanned for adverse situation, such as a flat tire, lost goggles, or even a crash on the bike:
- assess the situation & put safety first- Before anything else, your health and safety come first. Forget about trying to achieve a specific time or beating your main competitor– none of that means anything if you risk serious injury or worse. If you’re injured or risk further injury that will prevent you from additional training or racing, drop out and seek medical attention.
- remain mentally focused- When you’ve got a race goal in mind and are cranking along, nothing can be more deflating than an unforseen adverse situation (mechanical failure, etc.). However, it’s not the end of the race. It’s important that you remind yourself that it’s a temporary setback and that you need to deal with it. Keep a positive mindset & reinforce it with positive visualization of you dealing with the adverse situation and continuing on with the race. That’s precisely what I did when I got my flat yesterday– I just said to myself, “I’ll just deal with this and be back on the bike in no time. I’ll be happy with whatever time I get.”. Of course I was frustrated, but I quickly dealt with that and moved forward. Hopefully you have a race strategy for every big race and part of it should be having realistic goals and dealing with adversity.
- conduct a post-race evaluation- Once the race is over, take some time to think about what happened so that you can pull some lessons from the situation and be better prepared next time. Are there things you could have done differently? (Maybe inspected your bike more closely, swim more defensively, worn blister-prevention socks on the run, etc.). Could you have reacted differently? If you maintain a journal, write down your evaluation and key lessons learned. Apply the lessons learned for future events and try to avoid the situation again in the future!
What has worked for you in overcoming adversity in a race?