I was made to think a little about how we define success recently. Usually you'd think the process is pretty simple; set your goal, make sure its measurable, perform and see if you make the grade or not? Of course life isn't that simple. That was brought home when I was searching through the internet trying to find out what was happening on the Ironman World Champs in Kona over the weekend. I was particularly interested to see how Philip Graves, a 20 year old from York and the youngest male competitor was doing. He'd got a lot of publicity in the build up to race as he's a genuine talent on the bike and some were tipping him as an outside contender.
It turned out that he'd had a fantastic swim (4th out the water) and started the bike like a demon, taking the race lead. But around mile 50 the wheels began to come off metaphorically speaking of course. His eventual bike split was a long way behind the leaders and his finishing time for the whole race well over 9 hours, much slower than many had predicted. From afar it all looked a bit of a disaster and some web pages hinted that he'd been taught a lesson etc....
It was interesting to hear a little post race interview on imtalk with him that put a very different slant on Graves performance. He seemed genuinely up beat, as he said he got to feel what it was like to lead the world champs, he also picked up a prize by Timex for the fastest initial bike split and as he said perhaps in 4 or 5 years time he might be able to get the bike record. Graves of course could have paced better and perhaps come in 30th instead of 50-0dd and been anonymous during the race, instead he got out in front of the world's best and learned an awful lot for future Konas.
On a personal level I've got my first half marathon coming up in just over a week and I've no idea what time I'm going to manage and what should equate to success. I went to the track today on a rainy Sheffield day and again didn't know what to expect. I'd just returned from a weeks holiday in Cyprus staying at a fine hotel with amazing buffets of food every night. I'd managed quite a bit of running and swimming in the sea but my legs felt as heavy as my belly. It was a nice lift therefore to find that I'd made good running progress; repeating a session I did a month ago of 1600m reps and managing each "mile" at an average of 12 seconds faster than last time. Secretly this is what I'd wanted to do, but didn't really want to admit it to myself in case I was setting too high goals. Ive an equally ambitious time in mind for the half marathon and hoping I'm hoping I can surprise myself again. We'll see in just over a week.