George Papadakos - Triathlon Tales
I have always been one to give it my all and never say never, but on August 30th I was ready to tap out.
The dream of qualifying for Kona, and having the race of my life, had been reduced to a slow jog with the occasional lean over a guard rail to empty the contents of whatever was left in my stomach.
As I stared into the brush at the side of the road, and the many racers passing by me asking if I was okay, I wondered if this was my best. I consider myself to be a good triathlete, so what was I missing?
A line from the movie Tin Cup, "ride her till she bucks ya off, or don't ride at all," ringing in my head. What had gone wrong? And you can let me off here. And the overbearing thought of letting down so many people that support me.
For one, this distance requires more discipline than I could offer this year. With training hours ranging from 15-22 a week, I'm not going to lie, I missed a few.
This key component not only gives you the volume needed, but is a measure of consistency which I think is paramount for any training program.
I would like to say that I had injuries that affected my performance, but that's not me either. They're a part of life, and I have found that they are what define your character and your ability to adapt and persevere when times get tough.
The one injury I did have stopped my swim training for two weeks prior, and even the day before I was thinking that I would have a painfully long swim. But come race day I had the swim of my life, beating my old record by two minutes.
Going into Ironman Muskoka, I was rested and ready, and with the experiences gained from my last three Ironman distance races I thought I would know how to handle any problem that would come my way.
I was wrong (just don't tell Wifey). It happens, and one of the most simple explanations came front and centre that day. Every race is different. Looking at past performances had me over confident about my ability and finish time.
I accept that every race course is different, but sometimes your body says no more, even though your mind says go.
It was at this time that I did some soul searching (I'm not talking Eat, Pray, Love), and I started prioritizing what was important to me.
As I started up my Ironman shuffle down that stretch of Highway 60, I pondered about all things triathlon, and I came to a conclusion.
I love Ironman racing, but not as much as my family and their happiness. I also love my body when it is healthy and strong, so putting a stop to my training is not an option either.
So as hard as it is to say, I'm taking a break from Ironman, for now.
I would like to say that I have steadily improved over the years, but as I staggered across the line in a time of 12:31:17, happy to see my beautiful wife and awesome kids who had had an iron day themselves, I knew that today I took two steps back.
In hindsight I am happy that I did. I want to make myself better across all three sports, before I tackle the Ironman distance again in three to four years (I promised Wifey that much).
In the meantime, I'm excited about training again, and tackling sprint triathlons and duathlons where the distances are shorter with an emphasis on speed.
Should be a lot of fun, and I hope that you'll join me.
I would like to thank my family for all the sacrifices they make for me to chase my silly dreams, and for being there to pick me up at the finish line.
Special thanks to Roman Ramirez, and the South Western Aquatics for the amazing coaching and support. My lane mates David Klosler, Mark Newson and Cedric Tomico, for keeping me motivated and accountable for swim training.
Thanks to Michael Jaffray for his invaluable knowledge on everything cycling, and I hope that we can work together again in the future.
My winter morning spin class/TRX members who got up at 5:30 a.m. to suffer with me – you showed more dedication than I could of hoped for.
And to all my readers, thank you for the constant support, it is greatly appreciated.
Until I meet you at the start line, train safe and have fun!