Before I get to coach Flanny’s blog post, I think it’s important to try to explain in writing how physically and emotionally hard it was to finally arrive here. In reading Flanny’s post I had to fight back tears. He went WAY above and beyond what a typical coach does for you. He held my hand though the thick and thin. Took my calls and texts from different time zones to make sure I was alright. You see, I’ve never been much of an emotional person. I’ve always been really grounded and strong (so I thought). Ironman training has changed that in me. It’s broken me to pieces, it’s forced me to get back on my feet and it’s left me standing tall and proud whether I have a good race or not.
There’s always been this emotional wall I’ve put up my whole life. Every ridiculously hard workout Flanny threw at me when I was physically and emotionally drained from training, career and life – slowly broke down that wall. “Why an Ironman?” is the question I’ve been asked so often leading up to this race. This is why. It’s been life changing and turned me into a better man. A man that falls down and gets back on his feet holding a stronger ground day in and day out.
It truly has been a journey that I will never forget.
With just a few days until the gun fires at the 2014 edition of Ironman Coeur d’Alene I wanted to step back to reflect and comment on the preparation James has put in since the decision to pursue Ironman was made late in 2013.
From the very beginnings of the preparation for this season, one concept was reinforced to James almost every time we spoke. The concept of consistency. The season needed to be looked at as a very long book with each of the pages being individual workouts, each chapter being a cycle (block), and the entire book being the work done to prepare for race day. Success or failure would not be determined by the individual pages of the book, but would be determined by the overall volume of the book. Getting the workouts in day after day, making the right decisions, and being consistent would be the keys to unlocking the physiological adaptations needed to accomplish the goals James had set.
For those familiar with James and his personal situation, consistency would not prove to be as easy as it sounds. As a committed family man, businessperson, and lastly an athlete the life demands took a toll on James throughout the process. This is where the value of the coach-athlete relationship comes into play and makes a huge impact. Coaching is not about training plans. Any educated and intelligent person can eventually throw together workouts and call it a training plan. It’s everything else that makes up coaching. Helping an athlete navigate the insanity that can be life while staying on track to achieve peak performance and meet their goals. The preparation period for this race threw everything it had at James ranging from illness and unexpected lows to career advancement and unexpected highs. James and I stayed very closely connected throughout the entire process and were able to course correct when the currents of life tried to push us off course. The result was the consistency I had hoped for and preached since the start. Did we get to fill the book with as many pages as I had hoped or expected? Not really but we did get in all the key parts of each chapter, all the chapters, and the book is now complete. We have indeed seen the adaptations we had hoped we would see leading into his first Ironman.
James will be entering this race in the best form and fitness he has ever been in, injury free, strong, fast, and most importantly with the support of his loving family. I cannot tell you how refreshing it has been to work with someone so fully committed to his family. In this sport I see many people willing to sacrifice so much to succeed and many times those that suffer most are the athlete’s family. While the goals James had set for himself were of great importance to him there was no question as to what sacrifices we would make in his preparation. Family always came first and we were all in agreement with that expectation. The sweaty hugs at the finish line will truly be a team celebration as they all took this journey together.
When James gets into those chilly waters at the start, he can do so knowing he is fully prepared to race Ironman and his only job is to execute his race plan, stay dynamic and adjust to the demands of the day, and enjoy the end of a long and rewarding journey.