Kelly the Culinarian: What's next when you fall short

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What's next when you fall short

My very public goal of this weekend's 70.3 triathlon was to break the six-hour mark. And I didn't make it. I crossed the finish line and immediately asked my dad, "Did I make it?" The clock over my head was so close to the six-hour mark that I thought it could have been possible. Two measly little minutes separated me from my goal.

Two minutes.

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


Unknown said...

What a great post. I felt the same way after my half marathon a week ago. I had set a goal and not reached it.

As a teacher, I think that we do not let students fail enough. I have learned much more from my failures than my successes, as have many other famous people in sports and every other profession.

I recently saw an article that featured SMART goals in an athletic magazine, and I loved the idea. I will be using this in the future to set my goals, as well as to help develop goals for my students.

Keep up the great work, and keep writing. It is so interesting to read your blog and watch you progress.

Unknown said...

I really liked your statement - First thing I did - not think about it.. and just enjoy the accomplishment. I think this is a huge hurdle for so many of us. We feel we are a let down, when the only person being hard on us is our ego over those couple minutes.

Great post!

KellytheCulinarian said...

Thanks, guys, for your support. I appreciate it. Bill, I think the SMART goal schema is very useful for making ongoing progress. One of the things I wonder, though, is what if your dream is completely audacious? This whole Ironman thing sounded insane from the outset, but I broke it down into manageable parts - buy a bike, do a sprint triathlon, train for a marathon, etc.

Declan - I feel like runners are so hard on themselves in general. Oh, I really dragged on that speedwork, I didn't get up in time for a long run, I really shouldn't have had that doughnut, I missed the qualifier, etc. Sometimes we forget that we really love this sport and that's why we torture ourselves.

Xaarlin said...

First congrats on knocking 10+ minutes off your time. I don't know how long it takes to fully recover from a 70.3 but that's a great accomplishment. I cant imagine doing 2 in such a short period of time! 2nd- I get the disappointment. Been there as well. Celebrate the PR and good things and learn from what could have gone better. Which it seems like you already have done. Learning from mistakes or less than ideal circumstances is key to being successful. Next year I know you'll knock off even more time if you choose to. And remember that these races measure our ability on one specific point in a day. You could have had very different results a week later or some other day.

Erin said...

A very honest and mature look at your race!

After a race where I failed to PR even though I wanted to I cried into my coaches shoulder. She told me I had 30 minutes to be upset and then I had to move on. Excellent advice that I always try to pass on when I can.

Zenaida Arroyo said...

Great post and love your attitude!

I have so many races coming up and have to remember to just enjoy each one and be grateful that I can run. :-)

Losing Lindy said...

you did awesome!

I was hoping that our temp would work out and we could have lunch..guess who left MOnday and didn't come back..only one week in :(