The entire experience, from the very first days of training to the moment I crossed the finish line, was rich in lessons and takeaways that I believe can be applied to other aspects of my life. Today I’d like to share one of those lessons.
As soon as I began the process of training, I was surprised to discover the degree to which planning ahead was necessary. Diet planning, equipment, advice, training schedules, figuring out how to find the time to get workouts in while juggling work and family requirements. I was very consistent with sticking to the plans because that was the likely path to success.
But of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and my Ironman experience was no different. Leading up to the race, I experienced leg issues that at points made me wonder if I would be able to compete at all. Even worse, about four days before the race, the weather forecast indicated that it was going to be hot. Like, Colorado State record-breaking hot.
So as race day loomed, a lot of my planning went out the window and I had to adjust. I started slamming fluids (the healthy kind) at a much higher rate then I initially would have been drinking. I increased my salt intake as well, all to make sure my body was ready for the heat. Once the race started, and the weather forecast was proven correct, I made sure that I stopped at each water/food/aid station and replenished my fluids, as well as pouring a generous amount of water over my head each time and throwing ice cubes down my back to manage core body temperature. My initial plan to skip some of the stations to get a better overall finishing time went out the window.
Much of the race itself felt like a modification of my initial planning as well. My leg had never quite healed, so during the marathon I ran at a pace and a gait designed to minimize the pain but were not conducive to meeting my planned finish. When confronted with the question at mile 10, “How are you doing?” My response was, “I’m managing.” During the bike portion, especially, I was hyperaware of any signs of cramping and had salt products and electrolytes at the ready to ward off the cramps.
These adjustments worked, and I finished smiling, weary and uncomfortable but all in one piece. The experience exceeded my overall expectations.
When I reflect on the days leading up to the race and the race itself, I am aware that so much of what I was doing was “management.” Things didn’t go as planned, and adjustments were necessary for success. And I realized, to a degree that I hadn’t quite appreciated before, how much “management” means being able to adjust to new and unexpected circumstances.
The same is true at Imagine!, of course. If everything always went to plan, we wouldn’t have much need for managers. Planners, yes, but managers, no. Obviously things don’t always go to plan, despite our best intentions. Furthermore, so much of what impacts our work is out of our control (rates, rules and regulations, for just a couple of examples), making it absolutely vital that we have managers in place who are skilled at adjusting on the fly to new and unforeseen challenges and roadblocks. Those are the finer elements of management.
So today I offer a tip of the hat to those managers and supervisors at Imagine! who consciously and unconsciously embrace this key aspect of their roles at our organization, and pledge to support them as they adjust and manage while working to meet our mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.
Then again, what do I know?