Assuming the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt helped the American people regain faith in themselves. He brought hope as he promised prompt, vigorous action, and asserted in his Inaugural Address, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
After the blog post from Friday went up my phone started ringing. My mobile hasn't stopped since. Friends who are age group athletes, pro cyclists or triathletes, new triathletes, obese friends who are just starting into physical activity again; all had something to say about Friday's blog and about fear of the real truth and brutal versus tactful honesty.
Honesty is an "all the time" thing for me. My job (and professional reputation) requires me to deliver the truth in an unemotional, fact based manner every second of every day. In the world of political correctness (aka: bullsh*t), this puts me on a lot of people's radar as a "trouble maker". Let me tell you my perspective.
There is no situation that is good or bad on it own merits. Only how we react and execute on those situations do things become "good" or "bad". By addressing the situation, we can most quickly diagnose and solve the situation least painfully for everyone, hiding or not speaking about the truth will only make the situation worse.
My specialty is rescuing projects. How does a project get into a situation where it needs "rescue"? Simple really, MOST of the time the managers and professionals have painted themselves into a corner (metaphorically speaking) and to get themselves out of it they have taken shortcuts. As one of the globe's leading project rescue specialists (not my words, but my client's) I infuse honesty about the project and where we need to go to be successful. Think of adding oxygen to a fire, it burns hotter and more intensely. The metrics (numbers) are just data points. The hard part is seeing between those data points and how they connect and relate to each other. This is similar to triathlon. I can have great training numbers but if I have doubt or a lack of desire I'm in trouble.
In sport we are forced to be honest about our training (miles and time in the saddle), our mental state (are we happy) and desire (how badly do you want 'it'); triathlon is a three pronged "race of truth" just as a time trial is for cycling. The three pieces to your training will show one way or another. Your data points may be looking up but how they relate to each other is the tipping point to unabridged success or "good enough".
Evaluating myself on these three points going into my fifth Florida 70.3 (of five held):
Swimming is average, probably a C to C -. I do feel smooth in the water but I am lacking top end speed. The goal for Sunday will be to start swimming easy and build to strong. Go too fast and it will be a long day. Look for 30 to 35 depending on the feet I can attach myself to. My avg half ironman swim is about 32. Like I said, average. I am excited about the swim as I haven't really tested myself properly in the water yet; I'm not sure what to expect really.
Cycling is above average, probably a B+ to A-. I feel strong. I have had some solid bike tests from San Diego, Las Vegas, the Bull Valley ride with Liz (E.L.F.) where we were averaging (at mile 60 of our ride and into the wind) faster than my average at all of the Florida halfs even after we did a whole bunch of climbing. My plan is to take it out at comfortable pace and bring it up to a pace that hurts a lot. "Like you aren't going to run" said Dean. (see run below for more)
Running is well below average, certainly a D or D- on speed. Strength...oh, yeah I got it. I have some endurance but that is mainly from cycling and swimming. My longest run in 2008 is 14 miles and was back in February. My long run since is 4.0 when I ran with Vince on Saturday - Yes, I puked. The goal is to not get injured on the run. I know that I'm building the run and I will suffer greatly on the half in the baking sun. I can always walk. My main concern 1) finish the race 2) don't re-injure the legs. Goals like 3) run the whole way (note: no speed concern, just run) or 4) run 9 minute miles... those are just pure gravy. I'll stay out of the way on the run. I'll work hard, but to not be hurt...oh, what fun.
Mentally I'm miserable in my current job. I am not used to my talent and basically park my brain with my car every morning. I often wonder how many people I work with are using drugs or alcohol; its that bad. My joy comes from teaching spinning, coaching the new triathletes at the park district as well as training and racing myself. If you've seen the movie Office Space, that office is very close. My family life is very good, I'm pretty lucky in my nuclear and extended family. I've chosen to use my job as motivation. (Turn lemons into lemonade.)
Desire is strong. More so than racing "fast" I want to combine racing smart and fast. I'm only doing a three day taper for Sunday. This race is not my primary focus. It is a catered workout in a great location with 2,500 others. I only desire to have a solid first 2/3rds of the race and then see what happens on the run. (Pretty much, no pressure.) I'm not doing an Ironman this year - no worries to get a "slot" for any races. I'm not going to qualify for Clearwater as all the really fast guys from the southeast (like Sid, Chris etc.) will take a Clearwater slot to go along with their Kona slot. I'd have to swim about 30, bike 2:15 (I've never been under 2:34) and then run a 1:12 (my PR in a 1/2 is 1:38) - so basically, with a PR Clearwater "ain't happenin". No pressure. Desire is to race well and have fun. Well is defined as finishing uninjured. I want to have a good experience and use this as a building block for later in the year, the A goal.
I cannot be defeated this coming Sunday regardless of the final results sheet. That is a huge mental edge.
By ~2pm, my biggest concern will be the line at Splash Mountain and trying to make everyone (Lorrie, John, Renee and their son Jack) laugh and have a great time in WDW.
For me I need to train with guys like Dean Hewson. Dean is a fantastic athlete and great guy. After our tough swim yesterday, Dean went home and picked up Paula and the kids and went back to the pool so Paula could swim and the kids and Dean could play in the pool. Balance. Dean wins a lot of races and has the family life and perspective that keep me in the sport. Convinced that you don't have to be a jackass to race well.
Friends like John Wolski (who I will get to race with in FL this coming weekend). John and his wife Renee were my "first neighbors" in the first home I ever purchased. They have a great balance and are great age group role models. This will be John's first race since Clearwater in 2006 as he has had an injury that would have knocked most other guys out of the sport all together. This weekend, John will make it through the swim and bike...and then drill the run, even in our first exposure to 95 F temps, John's run should make others pale by comparison. Maybe not 1:10 good, but solid all the way. What I am really looking forward to is Monday...regardless of our race John, Renee, Jack (John and Renee's son), Lorrie and I are going bass fishing in the same lake we will race in on Sunday. I am hoping Jack catches a 12 pounder or bigger! (This would be like catching a whale for him!) We will have fun I promise you.
Nate Llerandi called me on Friday evening as his son was warming up for his little league game. Nate is a former pro triathlete who is a pro cyclist in Boulder now. I grew up swimming with Nate and we can really be honest with each other. Nate is a champion in and out of his home. Here is a link with more about Mike Llerandi, Nate's older brother. They are pretty close in my opinion. http://ironman.com/events/ironman70.3/worldchampionship70.3/matthew-dale-profiles-the-foster-grant-ironman-70.3-world-champion
Honesty will set you free. We need more honesty in this world. Life is too short to try and remember who you were BSing and what you told them versus the truth.
Don't ask my opinion if you are afraid of the answer, because if you are afraid, you already know the answer; you aren't being honest. Doing such is not easy, comfortable or nice in any way, shape, or form. Facing these truths about the core of you are better faced now in a daily manner than on race day in Kona or any other A race you do.
Go down in history as one who speaks the truth.