Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

No Ironman - how I blew my dream because I was… late


Yesterday evening at 9:30pm I was rushing in my car loaded with an amazing triathlon bike and all the gear ready to put everything in the transition area before my first ever Ironman race… It was my dream come true - I was about to become an Ironman in my home town of Gdynia, right when I turned 40. It was going to be great!… I was driving fast as they’d close the area at 10 pm. “I’ll make it! I always do!” I thought. Yet again I was doing stuff at the last minute, but as a person who always gets away with this, I was fine. There was still time, right? Wrong. When I got there I realized I was too late. Yes, they were closing the transition area at 10pm and I arrived just before that… but I failed to pick up my starting number and this had to be done before 8pm. And there was nothing to be done. Without a starting number I couldn’t participate in the race. I couldn’t leave my bike in the transition area…

This time I didn’t make it. This time I was really late. This time I really blew it.

I was standing there with the bike and the gear, completely ashamed and disappointed… and was replaying the events of this day over and over in my head trying to realize what just happened. I couldn’t understand how I got to this point where the race will take place and I won’t be in it. And it all looked so promising…

No Ironman - how I blew my dream because I was… late

Post mortem…

Today is Sunday, August 11 and it’s exactly 8 am. The race is about to start and instead of being at the starting line I’m in front of my iPad trying to figure out what I just did. And what I could have done to prevent it. Hope you’ll also learn a thing or two from my very stupid mistake.

It’s all my fault!

Just to be clear - the fact that the race is taking place without me is completely my fault. The fact that I was about to make my dream come true and blew it at the last minute - is on me. This post is not to search for someone or something to blame. The search is simple - it’s me.

Thanks for all your support!

Friends, colleagues and people who know me, listen to my podcast or read what I write were supporting me in this quest to become an Ironman and I’d like to thank you all for your encouragement. I am feeling so ashamed right now that I screwed this one up (and I will continue to feel this way for quite a long while!).

I thank you and I’m so sorry.

And yes, you can laugh. I’m laughing at myself right now for blowing it so bad… in between the moments when I feel so ashamed I wanna disappear.

Now that we’ve got this all out of the way, let’s see what happened:

What did just happen? What can we all learn from this?

Yesterday evening when I realized I will not be allowed to race today I was going over and over in my head analyzing the events of the day… and was struggling to figure out what just happened. How could I blow this one so bad? Turns out I could:

I had a plan which I didn’t follow…

Yesterday, Saturday August 10, was a jam packed day for me but I had a plan for it:

That was my plan. As we can see here, it was pretty jam packed. I was just coming back from a holiday in an RV with my family and I had to prepare for the race, but in order to do that I wanted to return the RV, pick up my rental bike and also meet with friends. I wanted to do it all. And I almost did.

Lesson 1 - don’t plan to do it all - focus on the ONE thing

When I was on holidays with my family we discussed this Saturday quite a few times I kept repeating that the main thing for this day is to prepare for the race. That’s the focus point. That’s the one thing.

But as you can see from the result - I lost my focus somewhere. The plan was tight and when it is like this, we should remember what the focus of the day is and as the world doesn’t always go according to plan, we should always prioritize based not the focus of the day. My plan should have been:

Much simpler, right? How I wish I followed that plan!

Lesson 2 - when things change, remember the ONE thing

The day was jam-packed and things were not going well - at 10 am I called the RV rental place as agreed but the man asked me to come around 3pm as he couldn’t take my car now. I immediately agreed on this change of plan without thinking too much about it. Without analyzing how this change will impact my day. What a mistake.

I should have told him, that we’d be in touch, that I have a very important thing to do today and when I’m done with it I’ll call him and we’d arrange for a drop off time. This is what I should have done. To focus on my ONE thing!

Lesson 3 - first things first! Don’t start with fun!

I picked up the bike around 2 pm with a buddy of mine and I was so happy about getting this amazing triathlon bike that we decided to go for a ride. It was a short 20km ride and it was awesome! I had so much fun! (See photo above) Later my buddy told me that he’d bring his bike and his gear to the transition area later than we agreed because there’s still lots of time. We split and I went back home.

This is what I should have done instead:

Right after picking up my bike I should have gone with my buddy to the race office to pick up the starting number. First things first. First pick up the number (do what’s necessary) and then go for a ride (do what’s optional and fun).

Or option two - after the ride now that I knew the bike was great - go pick up the racing number and bring the bike to the transition area and only then get back home. What was the focus of the day again?

Lesson 4 - seriously man, first things first!

I went back home, I took the RV to the rental place and then when I came back it was already 6pm and our friends showed up so we went for a walk. Yes, my bike was still at home, I didn’t pick up my racing number, it was evening on the day before the race, and instead of making sure I was ready, I was casually walking with friends and chatting.

What I should have done at this point is tell my friends to meet them later and bring my bike and gear to the race area. What was the focus of this day again? You can see by now that I’ve already completely lost it.

Lesson 5 - RTFM - Read the Effing Manual!

This race was supposedly very important to me but I didn’t read the regulations carefully. I didn’t mark the opening hours in my calendar. Otherwise I would have known when to pick up the starting number and when to leave the gear. If this race was such a big deal I should have done more prep work! I should have known all that! Instead I was relying on my friends’ opinions like “there’s still lots of time”.

I should have really dedicated some time to study the race regulations and all the schedules to make sure I was on the safe side. And I always say this - before committing to something - make sure to study it and analyze it. Take your time. I didn’t take mine.

What’s worse, because I’m used to small olympic-distance triathlon races, I automatically assumed this big Ironman event will be the same. On my races I can pick up the starting number right before the race… it’s all casual… because there are only up to 300 participants! Here with more than 2000 athletes there are real rules… and I didn’t follow them. And I can’t blame the rules, I can only blame myself!

Lesson 6 - stop doing things at the last minute!

Even after my friends left and it was already past 8pm, as I falsely believed I had still a few minutes, I was thinking of how to make my race even better - so I decided to add a thing or two to my bike (gels and speedometer). Yes, at the last minute I was doing stuff I should have been doing way earlier!

I should have thought about those things way in advance and make time for them in the middle of this prep day, and not in the evening! That’s why I was rushing to the transition area at 9:30 pm…

Lesson 7 - this practice of being late for everything has to stop!

This is my ultimate problem - I’m always late for things - thanks to my productivity skills and Nozbe app I’m always trying to do this one more thing before I go somewhere or do something… I’m an optimist who believes that things take less time than they do… and I’m constantly trying to squeeze one more thing in between.

And I usually get away with it.

But yesterday I didn’t. I blew it big time. I was late for my race. Or even worse. I was late before the race even started.

This time being late cost me dearly. Cost me my dream of racing an Ironman in my home town on a triathlon bike in beautiful weather conditions, celebrating my 40th birthday by being fit. This was the story and the dream. Now it’s gone forever.

You just can’t have the cake and eat it at the same time!

I’m still wrapped in guilt and shame for not making it to the race. It’s 8:49am - I should have been finishing my swimming part at this moment. Instead I’m writing these words trying to figure out what I just did and learn something from it. And not feel as depressed as I do right now.

Instead of racing and enjoying myself, I’m writing these words and suffering inside.

When I think about it, it wasn’t just this Saturday. Looking at the big picture, I really didn’t take this race as seriously as I should have. Here are some additional random thoughts:

That’s it for now. I’m beating myself up at this point… but the fact of the matter is that I can’t turn back the time. I blew it and I have to own it… and hopefully with this post I’ve more-less figured out the way to do better next time.

Again, thanks for all your support and so sorry for letting you (and myself) down.

Sunday, August 11, 2019 /noiron/