The Other Reasons for Race Selection
by Alex Thompson
When it comes to selecting a race, there are a number of factors that will influence your decision. Generally speaking, for Kona qualification, big guys need to do flat courses and skinny guys should do hilly events. If you want to get a PB go to Roth. That’s all I’ll say about the competitive side of things, as going any further is leading me outside of my knowledge base and is better discussed by the more qualified people on this website.
For me, ironman is more than just qualifying for Hawaii or getting under a magical time -- which from what I’ve seen is usually around 40 minutes quicker than the PB of the person talking. With ironman you can see the world. You can find out about yourself and you can have fun. If you’ve finished an ironman you are truly blessed; not many people have had the opportunity to do such a race, and every year it is becoming more of a privilege. There are some things I think should influence our decisions on race selection.
The price of traveling is only going to go up; if you want to travel to a place far away do so now. The world is changing rapidly and with inflation and the price of oil, flying around the world to race pedal bikes in swim trunks might not be a luxury our children will be able to afford. Do it now!
As for setting goals and achieving potential, don’t sweat it. Our bodies don’t respond to wishes. If you do the best you can to be a better athlete every day you’ll do well. I believe in training plans and working smartly but I wish people would cut out the “maximize your potential narcissism.”
If a guy went into a gym and said, “Do you think setting a goal to put on 7 kilos of lean muscle in a year is a SMART target?” he’d likely be laughed out the gym.
Now if the same guy said, “If I worked hard and did everything possible, do you think I’d gain 7 kilos of lean muscle in a year?” he’d likely get an answer along the lines of "Something like that is expectable, but who knows, you might as well crack on with your session and see what happens.” If he’s lucky he might get advice helping him put on muscle.
Write out a training plan, and some areas to work on, educate yourself on the process, work on executing the process to the best of your abilities, and above all enjoy the process. We are not our VO2 max numbers, our CTL constants, or even our PBs. Do the work, enjoy the process, and run around in your brightest pair of speedos in a country far far away. In 20 years you’ll remember the memories not the splits!
Alex has been a triathlete since 2005 and has competed several ironman and ultra distances races. He is currently working towards making the transition from age group athlete into the pro ranks. He has been working closely with Alan Couzens for the last two years to achieve his goal. You can follow Alex's progress through his blog, TriOnTrack.