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Setting Goals – When 2nd is Better Than 1st

is Sarah Reinertsen, the only female amputee finisher of the Hawaiian
Ironman. Born with a limb deficiency known as PFFD, She had an above
the knee amputation a very early age and never really knew life
without a prosthesis. Seen here from the back during the 2007 Kona
Underpants Run (in a snappy home made skirt of old GU wrappers),
her goal was the 2004 IMH. But, she fell short on the bike missing
the cut off. Undaunted, she made some changes during the year returning
in 2005. She bettered her bike split by two hours and finished the race
easily with a big smile on her face. You talk about goal oriented!”


Another athlete I know is pretty competitive in his age group. In fact he can
frequently win the age group at local races.

Ben Greenfield teaches that when you set your expectations for an upcoming
race, you need to do so carefully by picking an outcome that’s dependent on your
behavior alone. For example, a goal of winning
the age group depends on the potential for a perfect race for you and the luck
that nobody who can beat you shows up! Maybe, rather than an outcome of age
group victory, the choice of a PR run split, or finally winning both T1
and T2 would be reasonable. A result that is both within your reach
based on past performance and one that is almost totally under your

Our athlete has been thinking all summer that he would be
getting yet another age group win at the upcoming tri (yawn – more hardware!)
But what he didn’t count on was that the race would be late in filling and that
although he’d periodically reviewed the list of entrants assuring himself that
he was king cheese, at the last minute, someone from out of town registered who was way out
of our boy’s league.

Initially a little put out (and briefly considering,
“Why even go if I can’t win?”) he eventually saw the race as an opportunity to
really push it from the minute he got out of the water to the minute he exited
T2 on the run. This change in attitude resulted in a terrific race, even though
he got 2nd place by a wide margin, he managed a faster swim, faster T1,
faster bike, faster T2, and faster run than the previous year. Overall, he cut
his time for the sprint tri by SEVEN minutes!

And guess who had a huge grin getting that 2nd place trophy!

John Post, MD
Triathletes with Joint Replacements