Thomas: True Sisu

Ironman Switzerland turned out to be a day that tested my mental strength almost more than my body. A small mistake by a course marshal sent myself and another competitor down the wrong road on the bike, which ended up adding quite a few minutes. While I could easily talk about how I mentally pushed through the frustration of that to run well and manage 6th place, I actually want to talk about my wife Emilia.

Today was actually a great example of how her ‘sisu’ (non-Finns see below for definition) in many ways goes beyond what I go through on a day like today. For the past few days she has been putting up with my every little need in order to be 100% ready to race. Then when seeing that I had uncharacteristically lost significant time on the first lap of the bike, she kept on encouraging, pushing, giving me positive thoughts. I myself could not do this. I was done. I was ready to quite after only 90km ridden. I was ready to quit when I did push through the full 180km. I even pulled to the side of the road with 1km to go to tell Emilia I was done. But she kept me going. She believed in me. Then throughout the run she worked relentlessly to track all my rivals and give me splits to help me move up through the field. Then after the race dealing with disgruntle volunteers who would not tell her where to find me. Today was just one example.

More impressive is how my wife demonstrates sisu is her day-in day-out support of my sporting ambitions. She gives unbelievable amounts of energy in dealing with details for my racing from insurances to travel plans to trying to answer my annoying questions about why my knee hurts or what color bar tape to put on my bike. She also sacrifices her own athletic ambitions. In all honesty she is a better natural athlete than me. I have seen her run 3 hr marathons with less training than I do in a week. Then there is the financial sacrifices she gives. I could easily work a ‘normal’ job and earn much more than what I am scratching together with triathlon. She accepts this and works extra to balance out raising a family and owning a house. Finances aside, there is the also the schedules. I train a lot. I travel a lot. We have two kids and a house to maintain. You can imagine the chaos that is routine around our schedules. And she puts up with it! That is SISU!

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Darby Thomas


Darby Thomas on Suomessa asuva, mutta Yhdysvalloissa syntynyt triathlonin ammattilainen. Thomaksen blogi julkaistaan englanniksi.
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