Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pain and Emotions part 2

Giving more thought to this subject, I often do things first, then think back and learn from them, instead of learning in the process. I train a psychiatrist, Dr. T, who is also fascinated with how we, as people, deal with pain. His perception is that this trait comes more naturally to me whereas most need to think about "how to deal" first. I don't know if that's the situation or if I'm just dense. Thinking back to my second IM, I mentioned in my last post that I was more nervous and scared having already experienced the pain I was about to put myself through. I asked some women with a few kids which was worse, pain and anguish wise, their first or second pregnancy? All of them said without a doubt, their second because they were anticipating the pain they remembered so well from their first birth. The pain of an Ironman is simple I suppose compared to what women must go through during childbirth. Anyway, I got through my second IM by focusing on the process, thinking about the finish line, thinking about the feeling the Sunday after the Saturday race while lying on the beach. I also stayed in the moment on race day and tried not to focus on what was still left to do in the race. I've mentioned before that if you are at mile 78 on the bike and you are thinking that you still have to ride 34 more miles then run 26.2, you are in some deep shit. I didn't have a plan though to focus on these things I've mentioned. they just happened on race day and I've used these mental tools in all my later Ironmans. Perhaps some may benefit from learning this ahead of time rather than searching for something to focus on on race day.

The other interesting situation that I have encountered is that every time I have had a let down, race wise, I've followed this up with a stellar (for me anyway) performance. This usually happens with me in life in general. Take the 98' Hawaii IM; I was in great condition and going back for my third race on the Big Island. I caught bronchitis on the flight out that got worse as the race became closer. On race day, I made it 1/2 way through the bike and pulled over in a cough fit and shivering even though it was 90+ degrees out. My day was over. Reflecting back on my 98' race, I started to get a bit overconfident and take things for granted. I didn't get the sleep I needed before the long flight and trained harder than I should have in the taper mode. I was depressed for some time after the race until I shifted my focus from my past, most recently participated in race, to my next, big race goal. Long story short, I was very focused, learned from my mistakes, and in the 99' Hawaii IM, I set a pr including a fast marathon in tough conditions. Same thing in 2002, when I blew up bad at St. Croix. About two months later, I had a huge day at the Buffalo Springs 1/2, placing 1st amateur and second overall. It's funny, no matter how deep my resume goes, it seems that I'm only as good as my last race. Thinking about this now, I need to figure out this state that I create when I'm coming off a downer experience. I need to figure out how to create it regardless of my past performance or present situation.

Speaking of the present, or just past, we had a great ride on Sunday morning around Lake Warmaug. Greg P. and a group from Bethel Cycle showed up and we kept the pace conversational on the way out, although I told Lisa I'd be back by 10:30am, so I upped the ante a bit on the way home. I'm still surprised more don't take advantage of a group ride, especially those here who have the opportunity to ride around Lake Warmaug.

Next week is the LP camp. I have a great group of 16 attending. I will be blogging daily from there, and I'll recruit a few of the campers to post as well. I will also be writing up an article for the home page about the bike and run course at LP and how to break it down and race it optimally.



1 comment:

Amanda C said...

I hear ya, man - you def. hit home on this post. I remember when I competed on my horses - I had a HUGE result and my father said to me that night - "what did you learn?" I couldn't really answer him... what did I do differently, nothing really - things just came together and then whatever little changes I had made vanished. The times I crashed and burned or lost by a smidgen were the times that I learned the most. I still believe that you learn the most from your mistakes or disappointments.

It's hard, I think, for long-course people. We have so much riding on so few races. Not all of us can race an Ironman every 6 weeks like Bella Comerford!

Your comment about the 2nd Ironman really hit home - though I think I took for granted my first IM. I had a great result and surprised myself that first year. Then, I went back to the same race and only improved by maybe 10 minutes. It was a huge blow - especially when I thought about the training that goes into it, etc. That was perfect motivation for a breakthrough race 3 months later!

I'm curious what your thoughts are on confidence and overconfidence and how they affect a race. Sometimes I think it's good to have a healthy respect and fear for what you're about to put your body thru - other times, I find people saying "I've done it before, I'll do it again".

Keep on rockin' and thanks for all the great posts!!