Are you all-in?

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Here’s an article that I wrote, recently published on Ironman.com

Over the past two weeks I have raced two Ironman 70.3 races in extreme conditions: Honu and Boise.

As some of you know - Honu presented a choppy swim, gusting winds during the bike portion, and a hot-hilly-grassy-windy run. The following weekend I toed the line at Boise where it was the complete opposite, although extreme: spitting rain, gusting winds, and temps near freezing. There were even reports of snow (?!?!). Unfortunately, the fate of Boise was an altered course (29.3 vs 70.3 miles) due to the extreme conditions.

Before the start of Boise it was up for debate: Were we racing or were we not? Were we swimming or were we not? Would the course be altered or the same? There was hemming, hawing, and lots of freezing as several people stood in the rainy & cold transition area questioning the fate of the day. It’s funny. I said this at Honu and then repeated it again over and over while trying to tell myself that the conditions were “not that bad” at Boise - It’s the days of epic proportions that we remember the most. Had Boise or Honu been 70 and sunny with a gentle breeze, we’d all talk about it for a day or so and move on. Now, all 2,000 freezing & hypothermic athletes that shared in the day are bonded. We competed at *that* Boise 70.3. One for the books!

I came away with a great result at Honu: the win & a new course record and had an average day at the altered Boise event. However, one thing remained the same for both races, and that was my attitude.

Which brings me to all-in. Both races, as I walked down to the water I gave myself a pep talk. It went something like this:

Me - Are you ready for this?

My head - I am not so sure. It’s windy, hot/cold, it’s going to be a doozy today. I am going to have to really earn my bacon! What if I get blown off my bike? Am I ready for this?

Me - Of course you are ready for this. You don’t do anything half-ass. Let’s go all-in. Cash in your chips. Be committed. You’ve trained your hiney off the past 6 weeks. Why only commit part way?

My head - It will be easy to back off, these conditions aren’t favorable. Think of the laundry list of excuses you’ll have for your friends on Monday.

Me - Anyone can race on the easy day. Champions rise in adverse conditions. Be a warrior and let’s go all-in.

My head - OK. I’m all-in! When that gun goes, I am racing. 100%. No excuses.

Me - All-in!

The next time a challenge approaches you - be it unfavorable race conditions, a key workout, a World Championship, or even a project at work - I am sure doubt, anxiety, fear, questioning of the future, worry, uncertainty will creep into your mind. I often think the mind sways like a teeter totter, where part of you wants to do it: you’ve prepared for 70.3 miles, but part of you is afraid of the outcome. What happens if I get hypothermia? What happens if a gusty wind in Hawi blows me over? Look adversity in the face and be committed when you toe the line to go all-in. You are either racing or you aren’t. You are either committed to your best effort or you aren’t. No excuses allowed when you go all-in. Floundering between the two in that funky gray area is a waste of time and energy. The truth is: all you can ask for is your best.

At home we swipe a card to get into the pool. We have a policy, once that Griz Card is swiped, you are all-in, committed to the swim set. The rules are simple: no excuses and put your best effort forward. All-in.

I am sure I let out a few moans and groans in the transition area before the race. Sorry about that! However, I can tell you this much, as I approached the water and donned my swim cap, I was all-in. 100% committed.

Upon your next challenge, go for it: all-in! I don’t think you’ll regret your choice.