Motivation is a funny thing. Two years ago my big motivation (pertaining to triathlon) was becoming an Ironman. Once I crossed that finish line, subsequent races that season were just a bonus. Last year my motivation was more about being fast. After Ironman 70.3 St. George in May, I did 4 Olympic distance races before ending the season with a funky distance, kind of a sprint on steroids. Only that last race was a new course for me, and I was motivated to crush my previous times. I was also motivated to qualify for age group nationals, despite ultimately not being able to make the trek.
In the interview with pro triathlete Pat Evoe a few months ago, he talked about how his original plan this year was to race Ironman Texas for the 3rd year in a row. He lives in Austin, so this logically made “sense” for him. However, he just wasn’t stoked by the thought of it. Instead, the thought of racing Ironman Australia was very motivating to him. Here are some of his quotes:
"Thinking about Ironman Texas, I just didn't get excited. I think we need to choose races that get us excited and inspired in training. I love traveling to new places so I was looking for a destination. Being excited for a race has really helped me keep focus in training over the last couple months. I'm ready to go to Australia and see what I can do." Long story short, he made the journey Down Under and had a great race, placing 2nd.
Along those lines, as I’ve thought from time to time over the last few months what I wanted to race in 2014, I’ve tried to let motivation be my guide. Having raced Ironman 70.3 Boise in 2009 (traveling from Wisconsin to race with my brother), my initial motivation was to go back next year. For a while that motivation was much stronger than going back to St. George. St. George is a beast of a course, and combined with a disappointing race last year I thought I’d take a year off… despite the fact that my in-laws live there and it makes the most sense. Once bitten, twice shy!
Over the summer, however, my motivation gradually started to come back to go to St. George and have a better result there, to the point where I went ahead and signed up before the price got any higher. Boise was now out of the question in my mind, because for the same price it made more sense to do three local Olympics… right? That didn’t get me excited though… the more I thought about it, I really wanted to race both St. George and Boise, giving up other races (I have a budget that I try to stick to). Once I realized this, it became even more motivating to add a third half Ironman distance race (local) to the schedule for significantly less $$, and focus my goals on learning to race up to my potential at that distance. I can’t say that I’ve accomplished that in my five half Ironman races to date. Ironman 70.3 Steelhead in Michigan (2007) was a total learning experience. I went in severely undertrained on the bike, and putted my way to a slow run. At Boise I was much better trained, but had stomach issues on the run that derailed my race. At the Utah Half in 2011, I ran the first 5 miles too hard and paid for it by walking stretches later on. That same race a year later was my best performance at the distance, pushing hard on the bike followed by a respectable run, although it fell short of what I think I’m capable of. St. George last year had its challenges, combined with a disappointing run. I’ve got three strikes to work with next year at this distance... hopefully it won't look like this!