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2 min read

Ironman Challenges and Lessons Learned

It’s amazing how sports and life events parallel business principles sometimes.

Two weeks ago, I completed my second IRONMAN Triathlon. It was held in the Laurentian Mountains at Mont-Tremblant Ski Resort in Quebec, Canada, which means I spent MANY hours training in the local California mountains trying to get ready for this extremely hilly course. I trained very hard and was as ready as I could be for the 140.6 mile course.

Well, I finished…but not without some issues that could have been avoided with a bit of planning and situational decision making.

Stuck at the Swim – I am a middle-of-the-pack pace swimmer, so I chose to start the race in the middle of the pack. Big mistake. Turns out, if you start in the middle, you will be crammed in with all of the other middle-pack swimmers for a very long time! I was kicked and clawed at for at least 1.2 of the 2.4 miles we had to swim. My time suffered because I could not free myself from all of the swimmers around me.

An Unintended Detour on the Bike – It was pouring rain for the 112 mile Bicycling portion of the race. This caused several serious cycling accidents. Fortunately, I was not involved in any of them, but I was delayed due to one of them. With emergency vehicles in the road, and officials crossing and directing traffic, confusion ensued. I ended up on a detour that caused my bike ride to be longer than others by 5 miles! I lost about 15 minutes due to this confusion.

Marty_Mont-Tremblant.jpgChallenging Run – During the 26.2 mile run, I experienced even more challenges. In an effort to consume enough calories to fuel my run, I was carrying a bottle of nutrition. My stomach did not appreciate the amount of calories I drank and caused me a few pit stops. Obviously, this slowed me down and my time suffered by about 15 minutes.

When I finished the race, 12 hours and 21 minutes after I started, I reflected on the issues and challenges I’d been faced with. 

The lessons I learned that day parallel a few simple Life and Business principles

  1. Swim way inside or way outside and you won’t run into other folks. – If everyone else is going one way, maybe go a slightly different way and you could arrive faster!
  2. When chaos ensues like it did on the bike ride, stop. Ask a few questions and then proceed with the correct information instead of foggy assumptions. – Make sure the team members are all on the same page and then proceed!
  3. On the run, I took in more calories than I ever did in training. I didn’t follow the oldest rule in the book, which is “Don’t try something new on race day.” – Stick to the plan and make only minor adjustments, but test them as best you can first!

It is funny to me that these things were not obvious on race day. That is what happens in business and life when we are in the thick of the battle.

As it turns out, somehow I managed to finish the race 25th in my age group of several hundred participants, and in the top 15% of all 2500 participants. I am happy with that.

Have a great September,

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