When I raced in my first half Ironman last year, I was proud to finish the race. As a member of Team Operation Rebound, I started right after the pro women. While some might think this was a huge advantage, it had me riddled with anxiety. I worried about being swum over by young studs. I pondered all the strong riders who would breeze by me. After three hours on the bike, I felt like this guy.
I admit it. I wanted to hide. I was passed by hundreds of uber-fast men and women on uber-expensive bikes. I did pass some other riders. But the tide overwhelmingly went the other way. It made me feel a little weak.
But this weekend, when I continued my seemingly endless quest to catch up on my reading, I came across an interesting article in last June's Triathlete magazine. Belgium’s Rutger Beke hung tough to finish the Ironman World Championship in 2007, despite having a very bad day on the course. Like many pros at that level, he could have quit and saved his legs for another payday. Instead, he explained, “To win at Kona takes huge amounts of physical and mental strength, but to tough it out and watch more than 890 athletes pass you by requires an enormous amount of courage and humility.” Thanks Rutger :-)