May 4, 2016
Posted by: Marcus
As I crossed the finish line to complete Mallorca 312 I was filled with a sense of disappointment, not exactly the first emotion I thought I would feel upon conquering a race that boasted 4300m of climbing over a 312km course. But, to put it into perspective, I had just missed my target time of twelve hours by 147 seconds, and that’s all I could focus on.
As I caught my breathe from an excruciating last thirty kilometres of all out effort events of the past twelve hours flashed back through my mind. If only I had not crashed, if only I had not stopped for food, if only I had ridden faster here, or faster there. If only, if only.
I tried to conceal my disappointment from Kim (my wife) and Harrison (our baby boy), who had greeted me at the finish, with a smile but inside I hurt, I had missed my goal and by the smallest of margins. It shows how far I have come, a year ago I would have been happy just to finish a race of such magnitude, now it was to do so in under twelve hours. I messaged my coach to let him know my time, and also to vent some of the frustration and disappointment so as not to let it build up too much.
Walking back to the car I began to relive the race with Kim, I needed to escape the thoughts of my mind. I told her the details of my crash, the thrill of being in a peloton cruising along at over 40km/h, the mental battles I faced, the people I met, the frantic last 30km and finally the break away and sprint finish. She too had been a part of it, there with me at the start before daylight had broken, cheering me on after 232km in the saddle and then smiling at the finish as I crossed the line breathless, delighted to see her and Harrison but ultimately dejected at having missed my target time.
Knowing my Mum would want to know how I had gotten on I messaged her as Kim drove us back to the quiet village we were staying in. No sooner had I put my phone back in my pocket than it beeped. A message from my coach. Position 313 out of 3618. Hero. Top 10%. I was confused at first, my mind still going over all of the places where I could have made up 147 seconds. I then clicked on the live tracking link that was synced to my race number and suddenly it all made sense. My time, whilst marginally outside of the goal I had set, had seen me finish in the top ten percent of all riders to have completed the race.
My mood changed as a genuine smile broke out over my face. Top ten percent. I hadn’t even considered where I would finish in relation to other riders, instead remaining totally focused on a sub 12 hour race. Suddenly the 147 seconds, of such importance moments before, hardly seemed to matter now. Once again I relived everything with Kim, only this time with so much more enthusiasm and pride, focusing on how I had managed to achieve such a result. My beaming smile met with a look of pure pride on her face. We had done it, Mallorca 312, as a team, for none of it would have been possible without her love and support.
There have been times over the past months where I questioned what I was doing. Waking nearly every morning of the week at 5:30am to ride before my little boy wakes up and Dad duties commence. Getting out of bed when it’s freezing cold and dark outside. Not always eating everything that I want in order to get to my target race weight. Going out on long training rides instead of spending time with my family, and so many other sacrifices that at times left me asking 'Is it all worth it?’
And then this, a top ten percent finish, answers the question for me. Of course it’s worth it. The hours of silent suffering, alone on the bike when the world around you sleeps, the constant focus on the goal, the undying belief in the process, it’s all worth it in the end.