I learned a lot that day about the cat with nine lives. It was Ironman Frederica Denmark. I remember it being a top field of European pros.
I got kicked in the face at the swim start in a bun fight to get away from the start and lost my goggles. It felt like the entire field swam over me. By the time I regrouped, I was way back. I kind of remember thinking, oh well, I surrender.
Then I started to feel excellent on the second lap. I picked up a group and swam straight by. I remember seeing a few off the front, so I just kept at it. Coming out of the water there was only Richard Hobson from the UK and a few others. I looked at the clock as it hit 46 mins and I thought, what the hell, as I realised I was at the very front.
On the bike, I struggled from km zero. I felt absolutely dreadful, and I remember making a conscious decision to hit the coke at only 60kms into the bike, more out of desperation, but it brought me back online. I started to fight back again. At 105kms I felt amazing and once again the race was saved.
Coming through Frederica at 110kms I was pushing hard, too hard. I hit some loose sand on a corner and went down really hard onto my hip. I thought I’d broken it as I couldn’t get back up, it seemed to take me forever to get up. An official was trying to call an ambulance as he’d seen it, and he was also threatening to pull me out.
I got back onto the bike though, and he let me be. I started to ride the final 70. The derailer was bent like a banana and I had to get off the bike to straighten it, but it was done, and I was stuck in one gear for the remaining 70kms. I promised myself when I got to transition I’d pull out and go to the medical tent.
When I got to transition I’d lost so many places it seemed pointless to even consider going on, back in 27th place with a bad hip, bleeding and honestly feeling pretty dejected.
But something in me made me go out on that run. I’m still not sure what it was. It was probably the hottest day I’d ever experienced in Europe, a full heatwave, pushing upwards of what seemed like 38c. So out I went, from the second I hit the run my body felt good, and I started to claw back places.
I pulled back to 7th, making up 20 places with a good marathon in oppressive heat. There were races where I finished better place wise and result wise without doubt. It’s interesting how we gauge our best races.
This was without doubt my best ever race. Only I could know that. From the outside looking in, I imagine it would look like a total disaster, but internally, it was such a learning process.
Much like life, a process of challenge and patience, coupled with the ability to let go of the attachment, brings acceptance and the willingness to continue. It wasn’t always this way with me.
I often battled demons, but that day it taught me about what value really means. It’s never about what happens outside or how it appears, it’s about what happens on the inside and what you learn.
Don’t give up, it’s the expectation and the attachment that makes you do so when the reality doesn't meet the projection.
Stay with it, flow with what happens, regardless of how it looks to your struggling mind.
Like a cat with nine lives, you just never know what gold is hidden around the next corner.