Yes you can too… Turning Bad Days into Good Days
As many of you know I’m an avid athlete and love to push myself in challenging endurance events. Last weekend I raced a long distance triathlon that was slightly longer than a Half Ironman 70.3 (2km swim, 93 km bike, 21.1 km run). This Blog is all about the trials and tribulations leading up to that day, a few details of the race itself and of course life mastery lessons on turning bad days into good days. A little warning is that this is a little longer than my usual posts. So… grab yourself a tea, coffee or one of your other favourite beverages and enjoy the read.
Oh and here’s my new buddy that I rode up with, his name’s Dylan and he loves blue gum… future Ironman!
A few weeks ago Kate and I just moved in to our new home that’s been an ongoing project for the past 2 years. It truly is a gift to see a dream come to fruition and actually BE in our new home. One of the things that’s been a challenge is that all new homes have an immense amount of dust lurking around. I swear the floors have been mopped dozens of times and it just seems like there’s a nonstop flow of dust. Why’s this so important?
Turning Bad Days into Good Days – Say NO to dust
I am pretty damn impeccable with doing everything I can to stay healthy and be on purpose and I’ve never felt this bad in over 15 years. I guess these dust particles keep getting ingested in me as I sleep and my entire respiratory system feels pretty much like “shit”! Because I’m training right through this race I never tapered either (let my body rest), in fact I had a 100 mile ride only 6 days before the race.
I’ve also never felt this bad going into any race. I was up all night coughing and hacking the night before the race and didn’t get any sleep. I totally lost my voice and was having troubles breathing because my trachea was completely inflamed and constricted. My energy levels were at about 80% too. Keep in mind that this is a very healthy response to a dusty environment. I’m having a strong immune response, my respiratory tract is constricted so less of these airborne pathogens can get inside me and I’m coughing and clearing my throat constantly to expel the ones that have gotten in. Thanks Immune system for trying to help me turn my bad days into good days (timing…. ummm… not so good!)
Sometimes life deals you a set of cards that you may not know how to handle. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. What to do… Race or Drop out? Training has been going so great and this race was a part of my build to Ironman in August. I decided to race and just do my absolute best given the circumstances.
Since I didn’t sleep all weekend I was out at 4am and this is a pic from my morning meditation on the lake as the sun was rising. Pretty awesome!
Turning Bad Days into Good Days – The Swim
The swim went off well. As usual, hundreds of bodies jostling for position for the 2km open water swim. I started second row and didn’t hammer from the start gun. I ended up climbing over a lot of bodies and about 50 metres in realised I couldn’t get in enough air into my lungs with 3 stroke breathing. So then I switched to 2 stroke breathing. At times this was OK but my ratio of inhaling O2 and expelling CO2 in the water was off. So I decided to totally back off my pace and just take it easy on the swim and not push myself. I exited the water at 35:23. I then had troubles getting off my wetsuit because of my new Garmin watch. I spent an extra couple of minutes peeling that off before running 2 blocks to transition 1.
Turning Bad Days into Good Days – The Bike
I pulled on my compression socks (which seriously rock), grabbed my helmet, shades and headed out for the ride. AND what a ride it was. 93 km of undulating hills through the high dessert wine country of BC… Beautiful. Kate’s favourite winery Burrowing Owl was on the course, but I didn’t stop in for a tasting… : ) I was still having troubles breathing, but my swim was so relaxed that I didn’t feel like I’d lost much energy, it just felt like a good warm up. So I looked at my body and said…. “I’m sorry, but I’m going to ruin you today”. “I’m going to extract every once of energy and vitality out of you and leave everything on this race course.” Sorry! And that’s exactly what I did.
Over the entire bike course I kept turning the dial up in terms of my speed, power and energy expenditure. I tricked my body physiologically by flattening the course too. I did this by backing off the climbs and not pushing them too hard and hammering the flats and downhills. Yes I was turning a bad day into a good day. This is something I innovated and it essentially flattens a tough hilly course from a cellular perspective. I was getting up to speeds of 45 MPH (73 Km/H) on those downhils. Love going fast! For the last 30 km I was breathing like a horse and pushing over 90% of my max efforts. It hurt! My nutrition and hydration plan was executed perfectly, I did feel noxious, but I always do when I push it. I averaged a heart rate of 166 beats per minute for the entire ride. That’s pretty freakin high, clearly my body was not at its best but I had nothing to lose. My average speed was 21.6 MPH or 34.8 KM/H. A very good ride given how I was feeling. My bike split was 2:40.
Turning Bad Days into Good Days – The Run
I was in and out of transition fast and off for the 13.1 mile half marathon run. I love to run and feel so confident as a runner. Breathing was still laboured and every breathe made a weezing sound. On the run I got even more focused and did not let how I was feeling dictate my effort levels. My body felt weak, I’d have to punch my chest every minute to clear it, but I kept running to my good day. My turn over was awesome, my cadence was over 90 and my form was strong. When I’m pushing my run it feels as if the balls of my feet are tapping the ground as if its burning hot lava. Each stride I was focused on propelling forward and pumping my arms hard within my lower ribs and upper pelvis range. My body just wanted to stop and walk, but my mind wouldn’t let it. It wasn’t anywhere close to what I have run before but I was happy with a 1:36 half marathon run split.
I had tons of chatter on this run. Turning this bad day into a good day was no easy task. It was like I had ten personalities in my head having a conversation. I was able to seperate “ME” from this chatter and just observe it all. This is where I learn so much about myself. When you strip yourself down to your core only your true self emerges. When I race that’s exactly what happens and I can palpably feel the distinction between my authentic self and my false ego self. The lessons were pouring in and I was having tons of “aha” moments while stripping my body to its core during this run. You’ll be getting them ALL in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.
My nutrition and hydration plan was executed perfectly again and I just kept picking peeps off and hammering past them. It feels good to power past people, it gives you the illusion that you’re getting faster (when I wasn’t). The weather was perfect for me and the volunteers and spectators were amazing. I crossed the finish line in just under 5 hours.
(Check out those neon green compression socks and bright orange laces… Sweet!)
There were 783 athletes that competed in this race. I finished in 43rd place overall and was in the top ten in my age group. I had a perfectly planned and executed race given everything I had to juggle. I truly turned this bad day into a good one. I completely emptied the tank during the run, collapsed at the finish and was carried by 3 volunteers to the medic tent. I’m such a drama queen… : ) But it’s true!
Turning Bad Days into Good Days – Yup, Your Choice
My biggest lesson from this race is that no matter what shows up in life we always have a choice. This day I chose to race, my training partner LT and I slept in the same room the night before and even he was surprised that I raced given that I was up hacking and coughing all night. I chose to improvise on the swim even though thoughts of an athlete from previous years who began coughing up blood in the swim were circling through my mind. I thought about dropping out several times, but I didn’t. On the bike I jumped into the race with both feet and chose to dial up my efforts as the ride continued. On the run it was a “balls to the walls” all out effort with absolutely everything I had in me. My heart rate averaged 179 beats per minute on the run, and was gettin over 190 for the last 2 miles. This is purely an anaerobic run and it hurt like hell, serious lactic acid build up, hence my collapse at the finish. BUT…. pain in life is inevitable, suffering is a choice, I chose not to suffer. I also experienced how my best one day is completely different than my best on another day. So truly there is no point to even comparing my present self to my past self.
Turning Bad Days into Good Days – Stop Comparing
Comparison actually kills. So stop doing it. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop comparing yourself to yourself. How about just going out and doing your absolute “BEST” today, with no attachments to anything. Hey, that’s all I did. Make a plan, try to execute it and improvise whenever necessary. Plans are more like guidelines. And if you’re a little more rebellious like me “Rules are made to be broken”. I break rules of health and happiness everyday. That’s how I innovate! It’s great to have a road map, but know there are always hidden roads and journeys off the beaten path.
Turning Bad Days into Good Days – Just do Your Best
Yes, your best today may not be as good as your best on another day. Yet, when you do your best you can go to bed each night with a grateful heart because you did, “YOUR BEST”.
That’s how I felt when this race ended. I did my best that day. I couldn’t have performed any better or pushed any harder. I’m still smiling from my efforts when I think back to this experience. So I invite YOU to join me in stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something that scares you a little or better yet, A LOT. I crap my pants every time I race. Seriously! I keep fear in the equation because it makes an achievement that much richer and fuller. Not being able to breathe properly made this race one of my most memorable. Remember, our greatest voids become our deepest values and when you challenge yourself it leads you down the yellow brick road of extraordinary and mastery. I welcome you to get on that path.
Keep Rockin it my Friend,
FYI: This was a training race for me designed to expose my strengths and weaknesses en route to my goal race on August 29, Ironman Canada! It certainly did that for me and will help me in turning bad days into good days.