Inspiration can come to you in many forms, but none more exuberant and hair-raising than watching athletes battle themselves and each other on the Big Island.
Sure it’s just another race.
Another Ironman with it’s challenges working against the athletes.
But it is the World Championships, where being 1% off can make a huge difference.
The best athletes in the world are lining up and that’s what makes it special. These guys and gals can race, they have worked hard to get here, they are fit, strong and mentally super firkin tough. Every year Kona throws out a story – whether it’s athletes battling it to the wire, or someone putting on a clinic for the rest of the field and thus raising the bar even further.
This year was no exception.
And the most inspiring message that you could draw from is a simple yet extremely effective one. Something that all athletes should do. Always.
Luke Mckenzie did.
Take a look at his lead up (yes I am slightly biased here, but it shows character) – he wasn’t really featured in any media – not the big name favourite pegged to take the win.
But Luke, who has had his head down, working hard all year for this race, did what he does best – he backed himself.
Even when people were telling him that he should ride conservatively, saving himself for the run, Luke backed his own ability, his training, his focus, and went for it. And held the lead for the better part of the race.
That takes guts.
It takes an enormous amount of self belief to push the fastest bike riders in the sport to their limits, then get off and make them all chase you on the run. It takes confidence – not arrogance – to hold your mettle and dig deep as you get passed by someone stronger, and takes even more focus to hold on and not loose more time to others.
If Luke hadn’t backed himself, then I doubt he would have come close to finishing where he did.
Watching the women’s race, KM and I gave a sly look to each other as we watched Rinny exit T2 with 8 mins to make up to the leaders.
For a runner like Rinny, 8 minutes isn’t a whole lot of real estate. And it was brilliant to watch her eat that up very quickly and gain the lead.
What if Rinny hadn’t backed herself?
Chasing a group of the best in the world is hard; can wear you down mentally when you don’t back your ability and training. And that’s what Rinny did – she trusted her ability, and set out to take the lead with incredible tenacity and never settle.
She backed herself.
That is inspiring.
When athletes back themselves, trusting the process that got them to where they are, trusting their bodies, and their mental fortitude, their training and their preparation.
It takes courage and belief.
When athletes of any ability do this, they step from the doldrums of mediocrity and into an area of greatness that others only dream of achieving.
There is a very big difference between those who talk a big talk yet fail to deliver, and those that quietly go about their training and let the results speak for themselves. At the top end, almost all athletes appear to back themselves. But how many truly believe that they can get there? How many are hungry for it? How many want it so bad that they are willing to throw it all on the line, trusting their ability and their work?
That’s ultimately what separates the middle of the packers from the pointy end – the ability to believe in what you can do, to apply that belief always, even when things are working against you.
BACK YOURSELF, always. Trust the process.