Coach Sergio missed the start at Kona – read about it here!

Hey Guys,

As I promised, I will be sharing here my experience on the matter as well. After Belinda Granger’s sgreat story about her 10th Challenge Roth race and Chris McCormack ‘s story on the latest podcast here it is …

It was 1999 and like anyone else I was excited to race (my 3rd time in Kona) and I have prepared well and was ready for a great day !

I remember that the day before the race (Friday) when I was riding my bike before turning in for bike Check in, it starts to pour ! It rained really hard so my bike shoes got soaked. I have decided that it would be “smart” to leave my shoes outside on the lanai to dry a bit for the race next day.

On race morning, you wake up early and try to do your little ritual, organizing your stuff, getting breakfast, loading the car (I was staying 4 miles away) then you start to get nervous and some basic things can be forgotten ! When I got to the transition area, I went to look at my bag and realized I had forgotten my bike shoes at the condo. Luckily my friend’s GF (now wife) was there on her bike and she offered to go back to get the shoes while I turn in my special needs bag. She rode quick and was back around 6:30. Awesome ! Got my shoes, told Jennifer to hold my pre-race bag and I went to clip my shoes on the pedals (rules keep changing, back then AG could leave shoes clipped on pedals, not anymore). Shoes clipped, all good so I went back to find Jennifer with my bag and for my surprise she wasn’t there ! It was already 6:50 (race starts at 7am) and I was getting desperate because my goggles, swim, cap, vaseline (no body glide back then), sunscreen all were in the bag…

When I finally found Jennifer I asked her about my bag and she replied “Oh do you need you bag? I brought it back to the condo” ! At this moment, I knew I had to act fast ! it was 6:53am and I’m running in the transition area asking for a new swim cap ! I found one of the race directors and he told me to follow him inside the host hotel (Famous King Kam) and we were both running to the IM office ! We got there and he started to look for caps (the right color), meanwhile Tony De Boom was walking by (his brother and IM Champ was racing) and I asked to borrow a goggle (as I saw one in his hand) he gave me one of the swimmer swedish goggles ( i hate those) and when the RD found the cap, I heard that famous BOOM noise ! The race have started !!!

Sergio HawaiiNow I’m running out of the hotel and at the same time stripping my clothes , putting on goggles and swim cap, HR probably about 200! No sunscreen or vaseline, no time ! Having mixed feeling of panic and frustration… I’m running and asking people to let me pass, all angry spectators thinking who’s “this guy” pushing them around and all I could do is to yell : “I’m in the race” , I’m in the race”…

I made to the Dig me beach (race start( an I’m running on the beach and jumped in the water, everyone was gone including Rick and Royt (father pushing son on the boat) and I’m swimming behind trying to catch up….

Like Ian Graham, Belinda and Macca reported, my mind started to play games, I could not stop complaining, feeling sorry for myself for missing the start…

Despite losing all the time and having traffic on the swim, I still managed to have a decent swim and got out in about 1:03. So race was still on but I was already mentally ruined…. I have done that to myself…

I got on the bike and all the negatives thoughts started.. the wind felt stronger, the heat warmer and the turn around in Hawi was further and further away… When I finally got there, I passed one of my friends (professional Brazilian athlete) and he told me, I’m going to quit, F#$%@ this race, I don’t need this S$%$^& !!! That’s when it hit me……

I then remember the reason why I do this sport and why I was there… Triathlon have always being a passion, a fun and challenging sport and I do it because I love it, no one forces me to …. It’s simply for the love of the sport !

I then told my friend : ” C’mom man, don’t quit, let’s ride together back and take it as a fun ride day we’ve had so many together!” Slowly we started to pick up the pace, riding a bit better and even passing some people… We finally made it to T2 and despite all my efforts and waiting, my friend did end up quitting the race (saddle it was his last IM, he never recovered mentally from the frustration) . Now here I was, on my own having to run a marathon … It was the first time in my triathlon career that I was seeing a race in a different way, I was now focusing on enjoying every moment because hey, I had qualified for the most prestigious race in triathlon, I’m in Hawaii, a lot of people here including friends and family so why should I be upset ???

I remember starting the marathon (old course with the famous Pit) and running down Alii Drive , I saw a few locals BBQing and making fun of athletes offering them beer when they ran by…. Man I looked at that beer and I thought, time to show the locals that we are “normal” too… I ran by, grabbed the beer (Note: it is illegal to drink alcohol on course so do not try this!!) walked a little so I could finish the beer, got a big smile on my face back on and went back to my fun run in the beautiful Kona, HI…..

We easily forget why we do this sport… We go into the motion and we forget to have fun, smile and appreciate the moment ! Don’t take me wrong, I’m not saying you have to “cruise” the race (otherwise it would not be called race , right ?) but to always remember why you are there and what are really the most important things in your life…. After all race is just a race….

Check out Triathlon training plans from Sergio here.
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