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March 15th, 2012

I watched Lance ride in Kona yesterday in preparation for his triathlon season - some from the bike and some from the car.  (I would have liked to have watched more from the bike, but it was much easier to keep up by car.)  We rode (technically accurate, regardless of whether I was on the bike or in the car) to Hawi, took a right turn and climbed over the Kohala Mountains, down through Waimea, and then back via the Queen K highway.

As is often the case on the road to Hawi - it was very windy. While watching, it occurred to me that triathletes and cyclists who are able to successfully overcome extreme environmental challenges such as hills, heat, wind, rain, cold, or combinations thereof - are the ones who embrace the elements instead of rebel against them.

When we race, we are invariably faced with some kind of environmental challenge that supplements the challenge of the event itself. To do well in an Ironman, especially the Ironman World Championships in Kona, you have to WANT to be out there.  If you don’t - you will not perform to your potential. This is not to say that you won’t do well - only that you won’t do as well as you’re capable of. 

So when you are faced with extreme conditions - get into it.  Embrace the conditions and relish in the fact that many of your peers will be beaten down by the prospects of slower than normal swim, bike, and run splits. Focus on the moment and on the task at hand - getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible.  Remember that “as quickly as possible” is relative, and that a positive mental outlook is a key ingredient to a successful race. 

And for those times that we will all inevitably face, when forces combine to challenge us to the core, when Mother Nature, Madame Pele and all the other mean Mothers of the Universe gang up on us, when a positive mental outlook, while extremely helpful, is not enough - you simply have to get mean.  To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, The Outlaw Josey Wales: “Now remember - when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.”

Now get out there and get mean!

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