In a race like the Ironman it’s often the small things that make the biggest differences. Just a shift in attitude midrace can make or break your efforts. A cloud on the run can dampen the sun’s intensity just at the moment you thought you could take it no more. A favorable time split can bring you out of hopelessness and thrust you back in the hunt for a PR. The scent of a flower can sweeten your disposition just long enough to pull yourself back together, and put all that is happening into perspective.
It’s the subtleties that tell the whole story about an athlete. We spoke with Faris Al-Sutan today and there was that special something emanating from his being that signaled strength, confidence and just enough caring to get the job done but not so much as to douse the flame of possibility. That’s how we make our assessments of the “Whose Who”, by a slight change in posture or a strain in the eyes.
We met with our team this morning for the traditional MarkAllenOnline breakfast. In our talk with them we emphasized that the smallest, simplest thing that will have the most powerful impact on their race is that voice in their heads. I told them how one year I was fearing a strong runner being next to me on the marathon, and could not come up with a solution that would calm me down if it did indeed happen. But I was not worried because in my mental list of top guys, I didn’t see anyone who was there as being able to pull away from me.
Well, unbeknownst to me, Christian Bustos of Chile, one of the best runners in the sport, was a late entrant and he was showing his stuff on race day. He and I came off the bike together, and he immediately put 20 seconds on me in the first mile. I thought my race was over. He was stronger, and my mind started to completely freak out with all the thoughts that do not help in a situation like that. Gradually I worked my way back up to dead even with him, at which point he surged and put another 10 second on me.
That was too much. I was ready to drop out because I was listening to that inner voice that tricks you into giving up. Finally I just told myself, “Shut Up!” It took a few minutes but finally I did it. My mind went silent. A mile later as I pulled up next to him, I had the first sense that it could possibly be my day. We ran together through the half marathon. He finally began to weaken just slightly. I made a move and he could not respond.
I went on to victory, and one reason was the smallest of things: a change in attitude…silencing the chatter. Quiet is powerful. Silence is the sound of true self-confidence.
Our MarkAllenOnline athletes got it. They all have that subtle look that says "Ready". In a few days we will know the real results. But before then there’s still lots of ground to cover, both by them and by us. The sports expo starts this evening and we will be there. If you are in Kona stop by the booth and say hi. If you are at home, remember you can take part in our Sweepstakes by entering your email address on our homepage. The drawing for all prizes will be at the expo close near noon on Friday.