Eagleman mental preparation
As I go through preparing for a race, I prepare not only physically, but I attempt to prepare myself mentally as well. I want to know the course. I read up on all that I can b/c I’ll only usually be able to spend a short amount of time at the race venue before I actually race, so I rely a lot on information from previous participants who write blogs just like mine. Another thing I try to do is to set my expectations. I like to have goals. It gives me something to strive for. However, setting your goals too unrealistically (as I’ve learned at previous jobs) is not only unattainable, but more demotivating than anything. So, I try to set realistic goals that I know I can achieve, but which will be break through performances for me.
My initial goal at half iron distance was to break 5 hours. I knew I could do it, but going into my first race, I also knew that reaching that goal would really be a struggle. I crossed the line at 5:11:12, but I had learned a lot so I wasn’t displeased, I just knew I had work to do. In 2012, I set the same goal for myself. Break 5 hours. So, when steelhead came around, I had clear goals and times I wanted to hit for each leg. I had a plan for it all. I executed to plan and came out with a 4:45:18. Success!
This year, I want to improve upon that. I have two goals. I want to qualify for Vegas (that’s sort of out of my hands and it really depends on who shows up at the race and what their aspirations are) and I want to lower my time to around 4.5hours. So, in light of the second goal listed, I’ve done a little homework. I took a sampling of last years results of the finishers around 4:30 (both above and below) and did a little analysis on their results to see how they stacked up and if it is realistic for me to achieve this time. Below, you’ll find the finish times as well as the splits for each of them and a best, worst, and averaging of the data for this group of last year’s racers.
Now, where this leaves me is that if I can perform near these levels, on average, I should be able to finish very near 4:30. I believe my swim will be in the low 30s (31 or 32 depending on conditions) and I think my bike will be just under 2:20. That means the “average joe” from this group beat me on the swim, but I beat them on the bike and we average out to about the same time. So, if my run can be around the 7:00 min/mile mark, I’ll be set. One last check will help me confirm that I’m not crazy and overestimating my abilities. I haven’t done it yet, but sometime in the next few months, I’ll look these guys up on USAT and see what their scores were last year as well as what they’ve scored this year and then compare my scores to theirs to see if I believe us to be of comparable performance (me this year to them last year). If so, that says that if I were in my peak form this year and was able to magically race this race last year, then I should get around a 4:30. However, this year will be a new race with new weather and other new complications, so all I can do is project what I think I will do and then go out and perform and let the chips fall as they may. After all, I can only perform as well as I am prepared to. But, from looking at last year’s results, I can also see that I’ll probably need around this time to qualify for Vegas which was the first goal I listed. So, it all comes full circle and now you understand why my goal is set there and why I’m trying to figure out if I am able to achieve that.