Ed: Howdy All! So no doubt everyone had a chance to read and be inspired by John's KONA Q&A. That blog was so successful we thought, "hey, if it was great once, why not do it twice" and asked Mat to do an equally if not more inspiring Q&A coming up to Ironman Arizona! Mat's first full distance race, and a race he's winning in support of the Ironman Foundation. Go Mat!
Unfortunately, #matsgotkids and so, despite trying to do the Q&A when assigned on Friday, September 29, 2017 at 3:59PM, Mat was unable to balance his training with talking about his training. Which we get (sort of). But no fear! Team Unicorn Sparkle Adventure to the rescue. We can't run the race for Mat, but we can certainly motivate the heck out of y'all on his behalf.
So here we go, Mat's Arizona Ironman Q&A, with a bit of creative license from TUSA!
1. 50 [ED: Now 14, AH!] days out, how's the game plan coming together?
Well y'all, honestly I can say that I'm super on top of this. I've put in some hard hours, and plan to be aggressive on the forecheck and dig deep in those corners. Also it's just swimming, biking and running, so you know, no big deal.
2. What's your big focus these last few weeks?
Last 14 days. Well, I can say that a lot of my focus was actually on finishing up my Ironman Foundation fundraising commitments. And I'm thrilled to announce that with all of your support, I made my goal just under the wire. Ironman Foundation does wonderful work I've heard, and I'm thrilled to be racing in their name.
Other than that, breaking in my new bike shoes because the old ones were starting to smell, nailing my bilateral breathing, and visualizing the W are all top of list. Also my kids. Kids are great.
3. What's the biggest struggle on this final push?
Bike seat rash. It got pretty bad there for a while, migrating up and down my perineum. Have y'all seen that "inspection" scene from "This is 40"? Yeah..... let's just say I owe my wife some flowers or something....
Also, and I'll admit, the sheer monumental task ahead of me is starting to get a bit daunting. But I'm lucky to have the motivation and support of Team Unicorn Sparkle Adventure who will serve as not as the wind beneath my wings, but rather the wind going around my sweet aero tuck, come race day, assuming I can actually "tuck" that is.
4. What lessons have you learned in this journey?
Ironman is hard. Racing is Hard. But community is worth all the pain. I haven't made nearly as many of the commitments I've promised too make. And I know that I've struggled to find balance in training, working, and family. My story isn't different than most of you, I expect. We could all have a shot at making Kona if we had nothing else to do but train day in and day out. But I'm a Dad and a Husband and those come first, and this Ironman things has helped focus me and bring out the value in everything else that I do in life, because it's forced me to choose what's important, and identify what's not.
5. What lessons do you think you are still to come?
think I'm going to get served a big piece of humble pie come race day. And that's okay. Because the race isn't the goal. Once I'm on the start line, I've already accomplished what I set out to do. The race is just the victory lap. A long, hot, painful, victory lap, but a victory lap nonetheless. Nothing that happens race day can take away all I've done to get to race day.
6. Describe training being a husband and father?
riorities. You can't do all things. You have to choose. I doubt that I got those choices right all the time. But I hope that through this feat I've brought some inspiration to my daughter, who is old enough to recognize what I'm doing, if perhaps not understand all of it, to know that she can be great if she chooses to be. And my son, while probably not old enough yet, will one day know that his Dad did something great fuelled by his love for his family. And those are stronger motivators than setting a PB on TrainerRoad ever could be.
It's also brought me and my wife closer together in new and unexpected ways. For example, the bike rash assistance she provides.
7. Is your motivation today the same as the motivation that got you started?
No. I think my motivation changed when Ironman 70.3 Tremblant handed me my ass. That race was tough. I did it alone. And while I survived, I realized that it was somewhat empty without my family there with me.
riginally, I wanted to be a bad ass, like Trevor and Brandon and Tammy and Alex. Flying all over the world, doing exotic races in different countries, bringing down the house with finish times and team gear and amazing stories of overcoming obstacles and achieving all you set out to achieve.
But, for me, Ironman is different. It's about building a community, it's about focusing my thoughts, and it's about making me a better person, to help make my family better people. What started out as a solo journey has become more of a group effort. My "results" will suffer because of that, but my accomplishment in finishing will be greater than I foresaw.
At least that's what I think. I may belly flop off the starting stairs and DNF before I make the first buoy. Who knows at this point.
8. What part of the race are you most looking forward to?
The bike, no doubt. After hours on the trainer, I've started to really enjoy my seat. It hits me right in the "special spot" if you know what I mean. Makes me start to hum just thinking about it. Hummmmm
9. What part of the race do you most fear?
The dark place. Not if it hits, but when. I'm not as prepared as I should be, and that's just a reality that I need to plan for. So I don't really know when the dark place will hit, for how long it will hit, and how I might survive it, but it's out there..
I'm hoping that I can stave it off through humming and scratching until at least the run. And hopefully a ways into the run. If I can't, I'll just say my favourite mantra over and over ("Keep your stick on the ice") until I either come out of it, or I start to race away from the sweeper truck, whichever comes first.
10. Being a first timer, what words of wisdom do you have for first timers who want to start this same journey?
This is everything and nothing like you expected, all at the same time. If you're a family man, your family support is key. Find a community, build a group, share stories, and also expect to spend a lot of time suffering alone (and not just because of the work, it's hard to leave your family for hours to 'exercise'). Find value in it for you, and watch your little girl's eyes light up every time she sees you running down a finish shoot. Because its happens. And it's amazing.
11. What's been your best triumph so far this season?
he ability to wear tight, athletic clothing for most of my free time. I've really missed wearing tight revealing things (I may have dabbled in my youth), and the opportunity to do so on the public stage in front of all those spectators really gets my engine running. Hummmmm.
Also, hitting my fundraising goal was pretty cool. Thanks everyone!
Also also, it's very empowering to look at where you were and where you are now. I nearly drown my first race. Now, my Garmin says I can swim 3100m. That's no small change in less than a year.
12. What's been your biggest set back?
ime, motivation, priorities, ability level, fitness, bike rash. You name it. I'm a litany of set backs. But that's okay. If nothing else they've taught me to be realistic about my expectations and my abilities. I will probably have to send out some thank you tacos or something though, when this is all over, because it hasn't just been support and roses, it's been downright nasty sometimes. And everything is made better with tacos.
13. What's your game plan on Raceday?
I don't know if I really actually know. I mean I think I know. I know I have to swim and bike and run. But outside of that, I still probably have more questions than answers. Fortunately the information on the Team Unicorn Sparkle Adventure website provides me amazing insight into what to expect, especially with both Tammy and Trevor running this race last year.
I would say goal number 1 is not dropping my first bottle of nutrition on the bike ride. After that, let's just see what happens.
14. Who do you want to thank?
My amazing wife, my beautiful daughter, and my strong and inspiring lad. Team Unicorn Sparkle Adventure, without whom this goal wouldn't even be on my radar. And my bike seat, because it knows why (love you).
15. Are you going to pee on the bike?
So much. You can pretty much be guaranteed that I will just be covered in pee for this entire race. I'll probably start peeing myself in transition before the swim, just to make sure I'm practiced and relaxed about it. I'll pee at least once in my wetsuit. And then pee all over myself every mount, dismount, and aid station. I've actually been considering peeing myself on the run too, to save time in portapotties. I mean I'll already be so saturated that what will it matter at that point. Can't wait for that finish line photo and hug, honey!!
16. Anything else? Anything at all? Just let it out, man. Let it out.
year ago I started this journey, with no idea what it would look like. Now, at the end, I reflect back and still really have no idea what it looks like. Did I just run races? Did I accomplish more? Did I face fears? Did I prove to myself what I needed to? I don't really know. But what I do know is that regardless of any of that, in 14 days I'll have 2.4 + 112 + 26.2 miles to cover, with nothing but my pee-soaked body to get me through it. So right now, all that other stuff can take a back seat, and my only focus needs to be hearing those words: "MAT PROVOST, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN"