So what's next? First, I want to be very clear that I did not fail. I finished the race with a smile, I didn't hurt myself and I had no doubt about my abilities. But it was bittersweet to finish the race so close to my goal. I was a bit crestfallen that I didn't make it.
The first thing I did was not think about it. I relished my accomplishment and lived in the moment, enjoying the fact that I finished and again felt good.
Once I got home and showered, I started thinking about all the positives of the race. I accomplished several things in this race that I'm proud of, including not walking during the run, using my aerobars on the bike, keeping calm in the swim and not getting sunburned. I was also pleased to snag an age group win and confirm the fact that my first 70.3 was not a fluke.
Then I examined why I set my sights on this goal. Truth is, the sub-six finish was an arbitrary goal that popped into my mind. I finished my first half Ironman in Racine in 6:14 and felt fabulous. I didn't push that hard because I didn't want to crash and burn, so I figured if I pushed I could shave off 14 minutes.
In this step, I realized my goal was not SMART:
I was missing the attainable part of this equation - I didn't set a goal based on something that was realistic.
Nonetheless, my last stop in this evaluation process was to decide what I could have done differently. Had I not stopped for the bathroom on the bike, I could have saved two minutes. And if I streamlined my transitions or if the transition area was closer to the swim, that would have broken into the sub-six finish time. Also, if I had maintained an even run pace, I could have performed better in that leg of the day, too.
All this said, I feel good about my performance this weekend and know a finish time that starts with a 5 is in my future, but perhaps not until next year.
"If you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost." -Zig Ziglar