Anthes Takes First at Caseville Tri- Thanks to Positive Attitude

August 20th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Todd Anthes, Team OAM Now Triathlete

DSC_7767Some say the fourth discipline in triathlon is nutrition. While I can’t totally disagree, I’d argue that the fourth discipline can be a positive attitude. Racing includes a lot of variables, including some that can derail a good, even great, performance. How you deal with those possibilities makes the difference.

In the bike leg of the Caseville Half Iron Distance race on July 12, 2015, I could tell that I was in fifth or sixth place. I had an unremarkable swim and was counting places at the Olympic and half turn-arounds (it was an out-and-back course). It appeared that there was one male athlete so far out in front (e.g. 25+ minutes), that catching him would be impossible. I thought maybe this was an Olympic athlete off-course, or possibly a relay team with a *really* strong swimmer.Regardless,  I decided that catching him was not achievable, and instead, I focused on those who were.

I moved up a number of places on the bike and transitioned well. The out-and-back run course was completely exposed to the sun and, for the most part, made up of straight-aways on country roads, a majority of them dirt. Because I train a lot on dirt roads, it felt like home. Even that small comfort helped keep me feeling good.

From almost the get-go of the run, I could see four runners in front of me, spanning a little less than an mile. I knew with how I felt, second place overall was clearly within my abilities. I started to pick off runners slowly, and by the turn-around I was in third place. About the time I passed the second place athlete, shortly after the turn-around, I noted a hard charging athlete. He probably couldn’t catch me, but one never knows.

Now in second place, I began to settle into the idea that was my limitation that day . . . then, all of a sudden, an athlete flew by me.  It shocked me, and given his pace, I couldn’t even give chase. And this is where races get tough. It’s easy to start feeling sorry for yourself, and begin to wonder things like, will that hard charging athlete catch me and knock me off the podium and other negative things. However, I did note that when the athlete passed me, he did not have race markings, a race number, or a chip.

I powered through my little funk and maintained my target pace.  The last couple miles of the run were going to be really hard as my calves were starting to cramp.  The run course was not well supported with water and I could tell I was becoming dehydrated.

With about a mile to go, I came upon an athlete very quickly, and not the one that just passed me a few miles back, but the one who was way out in front of the field on the bike.  He was not looking well and I think he cooked the bike to such a degree that he was having a difficult run. With that little boost and a short distance to go, I was resigned to taking second place and finishing this race.

FullSizeRenderAs I started to enter more populated areas near the finish, I began to take in signs that maybe I was the race leader. Sure enough, when approached the finishing line the announcer welcomed me as the winner.  I had an inkling that it might be the case, but had let significant doubts enter my mind.

While relaxing in the great ice bath and huge inflatable tent provided by the race organizer, Tri to Finish, I watched the top of the field cross the finish line. The guy I passed right after the turn-around held on for second.  The hard charging runner I noted climbed onto the last stop on the podium. The uber biker who was 25+ minutes out in front on the bike took fourth.  And then I saw the athlete that passed me on the run. He was chatting up one of the top five or ten athletes. In fact, he was his friend. I’m hoping that his little display on the course was not dirty pool, but regardless, it is a reminder that a lot of things happen on the race course and it is how you deal with them that often determines your day.

You have days when racing where things happen that are completely outside of your control (e.g., weather, better performing athletes, dropping nutrition/water, digestive issues, etc.), but how you choose to address those issues are clearly within your control.  It’s quite easy to fall into a poor mental state and count your problems until they become an anchor. But, if you continue to trust yourself, your training, or whatever else lifts you up, good things will happen. Have faith in the process and in the race and know that the triathlon often requires more than physical training.


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