by Brady DeHoust
Many of us carved out most of the day on October 13 to sit in front of a computer and watch the best compete against the best in the Ironman World Championships. I’m certain that the thoughts and dreams were magnified watching the actual event unfold on that magical island and the pinnacle of our sport. Thoughts and questions rang loud: “I wish I could race there,” “Next year is my year,” “What do I need to do to get to Kona?”
Whether you’re an “on the bubble” athlete who’s missed that golden ticket by seconds, or a newbie to the sport learning and gaining that coveted experience, it’s important to be vocal about that big goal -- whether to qualify next season or to work towards getting yourself to that bubble and peaking in at the opportunity to get there. Here’s why…
In 2005, I was a lucky (yes, I do feel some luck is involved) on-the-bubble athlete who snagged one of two roll-down slots in my AG at Ironman Coeur d’Alene. It wasn’t necessarily a goal of mine for that race, but it happened and I was beyond ecstatic. After the long 2005 season, I took a break in 2006 and did not race any qualifying events. In 2007, I turned down two slots in consecutive months; one at Eagleman 70.3 and the other in Lake Placid. “Nah, I’m not taking my slot. We don’t plan to go this year.”
In 2008, the plan was “simple.” I’ll go to Wisconsin and pick up my Kona ticket and we can head back to the Big Island for the following year’s race. It didn’t happen.
In 2009, I headed back up to Lake Placid to grab my slot there. It didn’t happen.
I realized this; I wasn’t telling anyone I wanted to go back. It was a hidden goal that I kept sheltered to protect myself from failure in the eyes of others. I was unsuccessful twice, but no one knew it because no one knew I was really trying. It was a safeguard, but it was also a bailout in my preparation and thought patterns. When I went from “having a little luck” (CDA) to “above the line” qualifying (2007 races), I thought the process was easy enough to just do. I was wrong.
It’s important -- with big goals like getting to Kona to race the World Championships -- to make it known. That doesn’t mean a social media post, or a town hall meeting with a press conference. But speaking out loud to your family or close training partners puts the goal out there. When we conceal our big goals under the umbrella of ourselves, we are in turn allowing for an “out” in case the motivation to succeed during the preparation falls by the wayside. If you’re vocal about those goals, you’re then held accountable and in turn, will have a higher probability to do what it takes to get it done; different than just doing what you did before.
In 2010, I told my wife I wanted us to go back to Kona. I told my friends and training buddies I wanted to go back. I put it out there, and this helped paved the way for a focused block of training and kept me on my toes. I appreciated that earned slot way more than the first. It was hard work. It is hard work; and it’s not getting any easier to get there.
Be true and vocal with your goals and you’ll give yourself the best shot at attaining them.
Brady lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two sons where he works as an IT software systems consultant. His biggest success is finding the ability to train and race at the top of the age group while balancing family, work, and everything else in life.