Measuring racing success; A Reflection

Ironman sunshine coast 70.3

“Did you have a successful race?”         “Was it a good day?”

“How was it?” – I’m sure you get these questions all the time.

A month or so  ago I had the privilege of getting to race in my backyard for the 70.3 Ironman World Championship (I know, I’m a bit late).   And when Ironman (WTC) comes to town, geeez they do it well and with style. Mooloolaba turned it on…. Holy smoly, it was a gorgeous weekend.


Since then I have been asked how the race went. Like you’ve no doubt experienced, there are always family members, work colleagues and friends that are invested in our races. I am very grateful that people are even kind enough to ask how it went.

My response to these post race inquiries usually involves the words “great, excellent, wonderful” all while being complimented by an enthusiastic smile. A genuine and enthusiastic smile! BUT something was different for me this time. I’ll have to explain…

I love listening to other athletes debrief about their race, especially when it’s an event I participated in. I love when they say “ohhh I loved the last pinch of the hill on the bike” to which I often gasp and respond “WTF” and we both laugh. I also heard someone say “I loved the bike and run, I just couldn’t wait to get out of the water” and as they were saying that I was thinking “I absolutely loved the swim”.

Everyone is different – obviously.

Ironman 70.3 WC Sunshine Coast
Seeing my 10 year old son wearing a green sumo suit and cheering was definitely a highlight.

Despite the differences, one thing seems consistent. Success. Everyone wants it.  Everyone wants to feel it. Isn’t it why we line up?

Whether you’re “racing” or “just participating” you still want to feel some form of success, surely, otherwise you wouldn’t give the organizers your money.

We all know different athletes that measure success differently and so they should. Some chase a podium, some chase the finish line red carpet, some chase photo opportunities from Delly Carr (c’mon, everyone has at least one of these friends) and others are running from the Official Vehicle packing up the cones.

Some share their successes, others don’t.

Some measure their success compared to others, others don’t.

So what does racing success look like for you? Right now?  I say right now because many success variables are constantly changing.

After the World Championships I found myself pausing after people asked me the “how was it” question.  I would then force out a smile as I convinced myself to say “fantastic, what a great day to be a part of a World Championships in my own back yard!”

This is true.  It was fantastic.

I think I was happy to be out there….

But I felt different. Really different. I was happy to be out there and ecstatic to be a part of such an event, but on race day my mind just wasn’t in it. Surely you’ve all been there.

Ironman 70.3 World championships
Look at that face – GET ME a cider!!!

It’s got me thinking about racing success and what it looks like for me and I’ve realized it constantly changes. It can be one, a few or all of these things;

  1. Achieving personal Goals
  2. Being able to start and race
  3. Racing to feel and feeling good
  4. Placing well in an Age Group
  5. Having a healthy mindset during the event

For this particular race, I was focusing on #1 achieving some of my personal goals and #5  feeling good and having a healthy mindset. But my mind took me to some dark places. I know we should all expect these dark patches, but it was different for this race.

I won’t over think it, but if you do see me and ask how my race went, expect a pause as I breathe in enough to blurb out “it was great, what a great event to be a part of, but if you know me just stop me and ask “Cath, no bullshit, how was it?

I’m actually more proud of saying it was tough and hard. My mind was dark and at times I wanted to be anywhere but racing.

That’s why I love this saying – It is what it is.

Was there success?

Well, um, too bloody right! I got to run past my family who were going NUTS and I got the medal.

Not to mention the awesome people I had around me preparing for this event.  Check this crazy crew out…

Ironman World Championships 70.3

Ironman world championships


I’ve just returned from being a “cheerer” in Kona.  Maybe I should have packed the green sumo suits?

I hope all the Ironchicks that raced Kona felt LOTS of success.

Happy training, Cathx

Catherine Thiele Ironman Ironchick triathlon

Ps; Thanks for the pics Brad and Armando


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2 thoughts on “Measuring racing success; A Reflection”

  1. Funny you write this about THIS particular race. I, too, was not in the game for this race. The experience of it all was truly fantastic and like none other. I will cherish the memories of the whole race forever. However, I was supposed to have been finished with my race season after IMTX in May and I was exhausted mentally and physically. I didn’t train to do my best at that race. I felt like a poser since I only qualified via a 13 slot roll down.

    I performed better than I should have, but having started in the second to the last wave AND not being fast, I was constantly avoiding that sweeper wagon. The aid stations packed up amd the crown sparse. It was lonely and I just wanted to finish so I could start my vacation. 🙂

    That being said, it has sparked a new light in me to do better in 2017. My attitude is better and actually feel motivated rather than just going through the motions.

    I enjoyed your words regarding race recap.

    1. Ohhh Hollee, thanks for sharing. I love your attitude towards it all. Whatever it takes to motivate you is a winner. Here’s to great races for you in the future. Cath