Thursday, December 30, 2010

Never Give Up - Wise Words from Mark Allen

Six-Time Ironman Winner Mark Allen

"One of the most precious pieces of tough love Ironman wisdom I was ever given came in 1984 during my third race in that amazing place. I had what seemed to be an insurmountable lead off the bike (about 12 minutes). I ran the first miles through town with the stride of an invincible champion. But from the bottom of Palani Hill to the top on my way out of town it all changed...horribly so. I had extremely misjudged my nutrition and my pace, and in my excitement thinking how wonderful the win was going to feel 20 miles down the road, I had not taken in enough calories to fend off the dredged bonk. It was too late to reverse the damage. I tried, boy did I try, but there is just no way to speed up the sluggish conveyor belt that is delivering that precious carb cargo to your working muscles.

I slowed, and then walked. Dave Scott eventually passed me well before I could even consider sniffing the scent of the finish line. And then I had a choice: did I just give up and quit or keep going? And if I decided to continue on, my dream of winning completely demolished, what would be my reason for trying?

I made the commitment. I was going to finish and I was going to salvage what I could from the day by giving it every ounce of what I had left in me even when I was walking. I could either walk slowly or I could walk as fast as I possibly could. The second option had an appeal. If I could do that, then when I did get to the finish, I would at least be able to hold my head high knowing that I had given it everything I had on that day, even if that was far from enough to be the one giving the victory speech the next night.

So I walked, as fast as I could. Then I ran slowly, but still as fast as I could until I could do that no longer, and then I would walk again. I crossed the line in fifth place, which in 1984 was the final place that would be brought up on the podium the next night. Had I given it a partial effort I would have been passed by a fast closing John Howard, the champion in 1981, and would have watched the entire awards from my seat in the audience. It was a small victory that only I knew the significance of. I saw how important it was, no matter how impossible the big goal might look, to give it everything you have because out of that there will certainly be something that you can be proud of. This lesson was part of what propelled me forward in 1995 when I came off the bike in my final Ironman 13:30 down on the leader, Thomas Hellriegel, with no basis to think that a win was possible. But as you likely know it was.

I invite each of you to look back on this past season. Where are the hidden nuggets that you were given that might be the invisible gas that will fill your empty tank the next time you are without hope? What take home personal triumph are you just now seeing as perhaps your finest moment in an otherwise disastrous race? Stash those away. They might be part of your bigger victories in the near future."

Courtesy of Mark Allen Online


  1. Thanks, Lorie. Glad you found my words inspiring. Best of luck with all you are shooting for in 2011!
    Mark Allen

  2. My most treasured races were those raced when all was lost physically but some deep seated force pulled me through. I really believe those circumstances were more satisfying and rewarding than winning.


Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

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