Its been a long time since I shed a tear of joy in a race but I have to admit that crossing the finish line in Ironman Italy this past weekend I was greeted by a wave consisting of relief, joy, built-up frustration, and slew of other emotions that rose to the surface and tugged a few quick tears from my eyes before the reality of the intense pain in my legs pulled me back.
The better part of the past two years has been a steady progression in the wrong direction with a series of small errors and bad luck pulling down my performances and leaving me empty handed and to be honest, rather lacking in the deep fire needed to do this sport properly. In my credit, I kept putting myself out there and trying to turn the corner back toward success but success passed me by.
After the problems in Embrunman 6 weeks ago I was almost certain that it was the knock-out punch and was unsure if i wanted to keep putting myself through this. But somehow I also felt a bit silly not trying again considering i had already done a huge amount of work for Embrunman and basically not used it because I was forced to walk most of the marathon with stomach issues. So I decided to work hard to put that behind me and make a few changes to try and avoid a recurrence of the same problems that had followed me the past few races. Ironman Italy was the next destination.
After doing a tough buildup toward Embrunman and less than 6 weeks to prepare for Ironman Italy, i was not left with many options other than to back off the volume of training and just make sure I got in a few high quality, high intensity sets each week, then cross fingers my endurance engine would last the distance in Italy.
Apparently it worked! While I won't bore anyone with a blow by blow account of my race, I can say that at every step of the race I was able to push my body to its' current limit and that was the absolute best I could have expected. I did one of my best swim times, perhaps my best bike and a very respectable 3:01 marathon to put me into 11th. While this was by no means a top result, it certainly felt like a major victory for me to get through the entire race going full speed and not suffer any of the frustrating problems I have encountered in recent races.
Now i have shed my few tears of joy for this personal accomplishment and had a few celebratory beers, I will head home to regroup and decide what comes next. Whatever that is, I can breath a sigh of relief and be proud to have pushed myself to do this again.
Before I close this off, I want to add a few words of thanks. Firstly to my wife and three wonderful kids. They has LIVED this sport with me for the better part of 10 years and while there have been highs, the last couple years have had some intense lows they have had to experience with me. I think they deserve more than a box of chocolates when i get back... I want to say thanks to all my coaches, but especially Mika Luoto who first got me into the sport and is again my main mentor to guide me in the right direction. Kreu Maisniemi for helping me step back from my problems enough to recognize the simple causes and fix them. Mauno Uusivirta for not only being my masseuse to keep my muscles going, but also my unofficial sport psychologist while on the massage table. My mind-coach Robson Lindberg for guiding me toward more structured thoughts and also absorbing my complaining. Then a thanks needs to be said to my Team Sport for Good and my club Turun Urheiluliito as well as all my sponsors like Felt Bicycles, Huntteri Oy, Saucony, X-Bionic, Rotor, and Clifbar,. And thank you to all my supporters!