Disaster in Vegas

November 3, 2013

The Ironman 70.3 World Champs didn’t go to plan, but Emma-Kate won’t let that stop her

Despite things not going to plan in Vegas, Emma Kate still battled on
I was so confident I’d be spinning post-race lines of glory after the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas that I wrote to the editor to suggest I should hold off filing copy until after the race. Good idea, she agreed. After all, why wouldn’t I be feeling confident? As one of my coaches told me beforehand: “Your preparation has been exquisite.” I was in the best shape of my life physically, mentally and emotionally, and I simply couldn’t wait to race.
I travelled to Vegas 10 days beforehand to acclimatise and soon felt so cool, calm and collected that I surprised myself and those around me. A couple of days out from the race I experienced a few hiccups that caused me to take my eye off the ball temporarily, but I was soon back on track. Or so I thought…
Race day came and didn’t go according to plan in any way, shape or form. A foolish mistake in the swim and a total lack of energy and power on the bike put me way out of the race. Although there were aspects I was pleased with and can take positives from, I was bitterly disappointed to finish 14th. It was a long, long way from the result of which I was capable. It hurt. Deeply.
When days don’t go to plan, we often despair, agonise, criticise, reflect, ponder and drink too much beer. And when a race is set in the party capital of the world, it’s not hard to drown your sorrows with beer, wine, sambuca and whatever else looks good through race-weary eyes at 2am. But, as we all know yet sometimes like to forget, the answers to difficult questions and disappointing outcomes don’t lie at the bottom of a Vegas beer glass, nor are they resolved on casino tables.
Of course, you can kid yourself for a day or so that they might be – and have a darn good time partying in the process. And then, much like in the Hangover movies, you wake up and have to deal with not just the tiger in your room but the raw, gnawing disappointment from the race, as well as the raging headache and tides of nausea.
You can torture yourself, lick your wounds, wallow in self pity and wonder “what if?” until you drive yourself half-crazy. Or you can stop the bleeding, box it up, conduct an audit, learn, and move on. As hard as the latter has been, I did it within three days post-race and soon felt remarkably better for it. Maybe the fact I stopped hitting the beers helped too…
This has been a great season for me and I desperately wanted to race well in Vegas and have my time to shine at the World Championship, but it didn’t happen. I can’t change that now – all I can do is learn. I’ll be stronger, sharper, smarter and faster as a result. I’ll know what to do and what not to do next time.
It hurts and will probably always hurt, because only I – and a few close to me – know just how great I’d been, going into this race. As the weeks pass, the disappointment will subside and new challenges and experiences will help me regain my focus, but buried deep within me it’ll always be there. Not, I hasten to add, in a bad, bitter or negative way, but as fuel to continue sparking a fire that burns and burns. There’s no extinguishing that. There’s a champion in here dying to get out – and just watch out when she does…

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