Mike Tyson, once known as the baddest man on the planet, said after a one of his quick knockouts, “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”
Well, in a sense Iron Mike is right. You can think you have everything planned to a T, but if something happens that’s out of your control or you were unprepared for, you need to be able to adapt and move forward. I’ll give you an example of my Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga in 2015:
I thought I was ready for everything and it’d be an awesome race. My first problem occurred when I came into T1 my bike and discovered my set up was in complete disarray. I figured out later when I saw a picture of a guy with the same bike, shoes and almost identical helmet that forgot where their bike was. I assumed he stopped dismantling my stuff when he took the shoes off my pedals and realized “Wait…I didn’t do that to my bike?” I was pretty rattled by that. The next obstacle was the adhesive lifting on my aero bottle. The rain from the night before caused it to dissolve, so I rode with it stuck at a 45 degree angle. Next, I flatted with 15 miles to go. While fixing the flat I blew the tube inflating it. They’re not lying in the athlete meeting when event organizers say, “The road crew is out there to help you, but you shouldn’t expect them to be there right away.” I waited over an hour for them to arrive. I was probably lucky I flatted in front of a traffic cop who could radio for help otherwise it could have been longer.
As you can see there are a lot of unknowns out there and you just need to roll with the punches. Every race has lessons we can take away from it. Those were all things I never expected to happen, but I made sure I was prepared the next time around. Most importantly, I made sure I still finished the race.