For my first post, I’d like to share what I consider one of the most important lessons in life and endurance sports. A lesson that will make you want to go beyond your limits and efforts to achieve greatness. It’s something I read in an article written by the legend, Mark Allen, for the LAVA MAGAZINE issue of Oct/Nov 2012. The lesson is: to understand that the best experiences in life are rarely easy. For me, this is perhaps one of the greatest truth I’ve ever heard in my life. It represents the true meaning of what it takes to achieve our goals in life. Nothing so good ever comes easy, and that’s how life is, period! The following is a story to inspire mind, body and soul!
So the story goes (as written by Mark Allen):
“1995, this was it. I knew going into this Ironman that there would be no more. I asked the Island for one more great race, and vowed that I would never ask for it again. It was kind of my bargaining chip. I was there to give it everything I had, but I also knew that I needed some extra help. This win would not come easy.
I was 37 years old. Until last year (2011), no man had ever won Kona at that age. That was the first level of impossibility I was dealing with. I was trying to win six titles in six starts. No one had ever done that, male or female. That was the second strike going against me. To make the odds against me even worse, I came off the bike 13:30 down on the powerful cyclist Thomas Hellriegel, who was 13 years younger than me. No one had ever made up that gap after the bike to become world champion. But the Ironman doesn’t care about impossibility. It presents you with the opportunity to go for something incredible anyway.
My fitness was there-that muchI knew. I had put together some of the best workouts of my career leading up to the race-not bad for a 37-year-old! But even the best fitness of my life was not proving to be enough. If I ran a normal ironman marathon, Hellriegel would win. Victory would require something I had never done before. I threw all previous standards out the window and tried to shift into a completely different reality that would enable me to pick up thirty seconds a mile, every single mile, on the young race leader.
I had been studying with Brant Secunda for over five years at that point. So much of what he taught me were things that I really needed in 1989 to win. I was lucky enough to put those things in play in ’89 in very rudimentary forms. All that he taught was exactly what would carry me forward now and hopefully past Hellriegel. His teachings foster the ability to quiet your mind, especially when a less-prepared you would get derailed with all that negative chatter. He helps a person develop the ability to feel comfortable in any situation and to stay calm and steady even in the toughest moments. I desperately needed to find that place. Losing even the smallest amount of energy to self-doubt, or letting myself think for a second that I wanted to give up would mean my quest for a sixth title would be over.
Brant emphasises to keep going, no matter how impossible life might feel at a given moment, because everything can change in the next. At the ’95 race, that critical shift didn’t happen until mile 23 of the marathon, when I finally caught and passed the young German. There were a thousand moments during the race when I had to silence the negative chatter so that the place of quiet and positive focus could return.
If perfection is measured by the amount of time you feel in control of the situation, this was the worst race of my life. But if it is defined by one’s ability to calmly deal with every second that the greatest challenges present-one at a time until the job is done-then this was indeed my finest hour. You would think that after five victories I could sort of put it all on autopilot. But just like someone doing Ironman for the first time, the way to the finish had to be discovered, the challenges embraced, and new parts of your internal character revealed”.
Lessons like this one, is what you will find if you read Mark Allen’s book: Fit Soul & Fit Body, which I strongly recommend you to read. I’m very glad I had the opportunity to listen to this guy live during the Miami 70.3 Ironman 2012 Expo. It was very inspiring and I went on the next day to have an amazing race and perhaps one of my best races ever! I must say thanks again to all my family who were there to support me: Jonny, Liz, Ray, Aunt Diana, Nicole, and my friends Marcos, Danielle and Marconi. Love you guys!
So remember, the best experiences in life are rarely easy.
The legend, Mark Allen and me