St George 70.3
US Pro Championships
May 3, 2014
We go to win...which can mean several things depending on the depth of the race. (For you road cyclists that don't know much about the Ironman 70.3 series, they're equivalent to World Cup races to earn points to qualify for the World Championships.) Winning can mean being the first to cross the line, finishing in the top 5, top 10 or in the money...but anything beyond that is simply a disappointing day. So, to be even more brutally honest, we don't like to hear, "Good job" or "Well, you finished and that's what matters most" because in the heat of the moment, finishing isn't the most important thing...it's just the nature of the beast. But sometimes, it is.
There are three races where I've "called it a day," all for legitimate reasons. I mean, really...some of you might remember what I put myself through in 2009. Anyway, I knew early on during the race that it wasn't going to be my day. I'm sure I can pinpoint a bunch of reasons, but sometimes it's simply too overwhelming to accept how much you suck. I wanted to quit so, so bad. I was hoping for a nonrecoverable mechanical so I had a good reason to call it quits. It's a bad sign when you start to THINK during a race. The best races happen when you don't think at all...you just go. When I started to read the signs that some of the spectators put up on the bike course, I knew things were continually going downhill. My favorite sign was, "Follow me, I know a shortcut." It led towards a ditch.
I didn't have a mechanical, an injury, or an illness. So, why'd I finish? Whether you win or suck, no one really cares as much as you do. However, finishing is more respectable than a DNF. There are always exceptions, but I believe in finishing what you've started. Athletes should respect themselves that much; bailing on a race because my body just wasn't up for it? How egotistical is that? It would've been easy for me to get out of something really uncomfortable by throwing in the towel, but we all know that every journey is not always pretty...sometimes, pretty ugly.