Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Want to Attempt A Race With Stretch Goals?

Want to Attempt A Race With Stretch Goals?

A stretch goal is a goal that tests your abilities, and taps on your potential. Limits are meant to be exceeded. Otherwise, they serve as mindsets – prisons of our minds – which we stubbornly cling to, and create excuses for. If you cannot reason through your ‘mental brakes’, then you are making excuses to fulfil your sense of mediocrity.

Arguably, completing an Ironman triathlon is one of the toughest endurance races in the world, yet many of us shy away from races like St George (Utah) and Lanzarote. There are many reasons for avoiding such courses, mainly because the routes are gruelling, painful and hard to earn PBs. Yet, there are reasons for doing such races:

1) These are early-season races and if you miss a Kona slot, you can choose another with time to spare.
2) If you are one of the privileged to rightfully earn a slot, you will have time to prepare adequately for the extreme conditions (strong winds and heat).
3) Time to step up to the plate and challenge yourself beyond fast or flat courses. Finishers earn the right to brag about the tougher courses they completed. Monikers for races include ‘Toughest day on earth’, ‘Hottest day’ or ‘One of the toughest bike courses in the world’. The now-discontinued Ironman Korea that I completed in 2006 had a challenging, one-loop bike course; IM Lanzarote boasts a higher elevation; St George was a rolling course with cold conditions. What is your poison?
4) Be the first (few) to attempt and complete these unpopular courses. I have friends who completed Norseman, Ironman Lanzarote, Ironman Canada and Ironman St George. The harder the course conditions, the more slots tend to remain months after the race opens its doors.
5) Attempt a Double-, Triple-, or Quadruple-Ironman. The toughness and fear factor increases in multiples. A long-term training strategy is involved for those attempting longer races, such as crew assistance, resting and recovery time.
6) Attempt new races like the non-M-Dot brands including the Challenge series and Norseman (boutique race, by selection only).
7) The chances of reviving Asian races like IM Malaysia, IM Korea and IM China are remote.
8) New qualifying rules for the Kona Lottery will lead to those who have successfully completed at least 12 M-Dot races, to have a better chance of qualifying at Kona. Non-M-Dot long-distance triathlons do not count.

Apply early as most M-Dot sanctioned races are sold out early, some as soon as they are released (and within hours). The sold-out races in early-2012 include IM New Zealand and the inaugural IM Melbourne. IM China and IM Korea have been discontinued because they received poor evaluations from participants. Or, take the road less travelled and take on off-road or extended races. Dare yourself into an early-season race!

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