The Iron Man St. George 70.3 has come and gone but the moments that were lived by each of the competitors will always stay with them.
Standing in the brisk morning air a large group of triathletes wearing the symbol of the ‘bee’ huddled together to hear a message that I had been thinking about giving for days before hand. To be honest, this was the first time I had been asked to deliver such a message to hopefully help those participating mentally prepare for the tough task ahead. As the Salt Lake Tri club huddled around the message that I had prepared did not feel right. This left me without words but rather to look for the impressions as to what I might be able to say to impact these athletes in a positive way.
What came out of my mouth was something I had attached to for a long time during my training for the 70.3 race. A simple definition of how I knew that I had made it in my training and overall aim to complete the 70.3 in good stead. And so, I asked them to simply close their eyes and define their definition of success (their “moment”) even before the race started. As the words came forth I hoped that each of the athletes would come to find a sense of confidence, calmness, and directed energy to go out and accomplish that definition of success, whatever it may be.
If you were a part of this race, you will know how chaotic the day became making for many moments for the day. Afterwards, a response from the athletes came on social media and I wanted to share with you a few responses:
“My defining moment was when I rounded that last red buoy of the swim and spotted those black finishing buoys. WOW! I did it. The swim was my biggest worry. I had strength and calmness surrounding me. I felt I crushed my fear. #personalvictory Thank you, Nate! I stayed in green and yellow thoughts all day. Even through that hellacious rain and freezing cold!”
“This race was so much bigger than me. I dedicated t to myself and my new life. When I turned up snow everyone was quiet you could feel the determination and concern of each athlete. We were all in our zone. I don’t know how I made it through the canyon but I did. Then, like everyone else I was kind of planning on calling it at T2. Somehow I got my socks and shoes on and *got up* off the ground. That was MY MOMENT. I got up. I walked and shuffled. At the tent when I saw a friend and it was what I needed until mile 2 when I saw another friend then it was a continuous string of tri family. I’m still not sure I actually finished. How did that happen?!”
“Nate, I woke up ready to puke my guts out I was so nervous for my first HIM, I was ready to run away! … On the way to the lake I thought about keeping my thoughts in the green and then as I closed my eyes to define my moment I pictured finishing it… And when I finished it was just like I pictured! I’ve been in awe of your inspiration since tri camp and will be contacting you in the future to coach my mind through my next event. They are right this race was so mental and staying positive is the only way to overcome those demons.”
“I was in the second to last wave and was so stoked about my first 70.3 swim. But by the time I made it to the first aid station in Hurricane I was frozen. I stopped and stayed in the porta potty to warm up. Didn’t work. Some of the aid station workers put us (there were 12 of us) in their vehicles to warm us up. We were passing around a phone to call family to pick us up when the phone came to me. When I heard my wife’s voice I knew I couldn’t quit. That was my moment! I got out and on the bike. The head aid station guy said the last rider had passed some time ago and was I really leaving? I said yes and he said that makes you the last rider…I said it won’t end that way. 53 minutes after I stopped I started again and finished – 7:23.34”
“I was lucky and had 2 moments. The first was at about 1/2 way through the bike – I was completely soaked and freezing and could see that Snow Canyon was going to be bad. I thought about not finishing. Then I thought about your pre-race talk, and how I could decide what this moment meant to me. I decided it was epic! And was going to experience this horrendous weather and get through it without judging myself and my performance. Which I did! The 2nd moment was Snow Canyon, when I didn’t have to walk my bike up at all. Easier gearing and the mental talk I gave myself as I was crawling up the hill let me pedal to the top for the first time ever. It was one of my goals for the race. Done! Thank you for your pre-race talk – it really helped!”
“Coming down the highway after snow canyon feeling like a popsicle the thought was “I’m done unless there’s a warming tent at T2.” But then after getting a warming blanket (close enough) and having volunteers ???? tie my shoes, I decided that “I’m finishing this MoFo even if I have to walk 13 miles!!” What an experience!! Great to see all the SLTC’ers and glad I wasn’t suffering alone!”
“Throughout the race I kept hearing Nate in my head. I felt great on the bike which I credit to Kicker Lab. I entered Snow Canyon determined to ride the hill in a bigger gear. At one mile in after passing many, I broke a spoke
“Throughout the race I kept hearing Nate in my head. I felt great on the bike which I credit to Kicker Lab. I entered Snow Canyon determined to ride the hill in a bigger gear. At one mile in after passing many, I broke a spoke in my rear wheel. I stopped and wrapped the broken spoke around another. I opened my brake and hopped on. A short time later it unwrapped so I hopped off and turned my bike over. I worked the spoke free and pulled it out, tucking the culprit in my pocket. I hopped bake on and began riding again. A bit further I saw a Rapid Cycles truck and stopped to ask if he had another rear wheel but no such luck. He looked at my wheel and he said I should be OK on the descent into SG. The whole time down the hill I kept imagining my wheel flying into prices as I ground into the pavement. Luckily that didn’t happen and I rolled into T2 to start the run. There were warming blankets? Through the run I kept changing “The Suck” over and over.”
“Mine was overcoming a mechanical issue on my bike around mile 2-3. The first bike tech couldn’t fix it, the second bike tech told me I was done for the day… I took my bike from him and decided to attempt the bike on the small front ring with a dysfunctional derailer that wouldn’t shift to the large ring and was rubbing badly. Luckily a friend drove by and asked how I was… I told her I needed a certain teammate… He was a few hundred yards up the road. They calmed me down and he fixed my bike!!! After losing ~25? minutes (all 3 stop combined) I pushed through the freezing weather with big time doubt that I would make up the time. Then my elbow pad dropped at mile 30 twisting the handle bar and shifter too… Had that fixed at mile 40ish. Grinding up Snow Canyon I flipped a switch when I passed the spot that I had to stop two weeks ago during camp… I killed it down the hill hitting speeds in the high 40’s on wet roads… I also had the worst lower back pain I have ever had due to cold weather. With the help of a teammate… I pushed through the first 6 miles. I remembered what you, Nate, said; chest out and chin up/loose and don’t let the suck happen. I remembered my training from my Coach Heather and kept going. After the 7.5 mile mark I passed the furthest distance I had ever ran… Back loosened up and I was on my way. Last 7 were faster than the first 6.
Sorry… I had too many moments yesterday and I am tired and rambling and I am sure no one has read this far. Ha
I finished with the biggest smile ever!!! So happy.”
After reading each of these stories and going through the experience of the race myself for the first time, I find myself in a place where I don’t know how to express the pride I feel for each and every one of these people, these stories, these moments. A big part of why I do what I do in Mental Skills Training is to see the product of the potential people have within them.I wanted to thank everyone who competed on that day and for the immense effort you took in becoming and being an Ironman in so many ways!
I wanted to thank everyone who competed on that day and for the immense effort you took in becoming and being an Ironman in so many ways!PS. I wanted to keep the identities of these individuals stories private. I hope it is ok that I removed any names associated with each of these posts.
P.S. I wanted to keep the identities of these individuals stories private. I hope it is ok that I removed any names associated with each of these posts.