April 30, 2009


I made the cross country journey from my winter training camp base in Tucson, AZ back to my home in Des Moines, IA this week. It was a long drive but with some stops in Santa Fe and Boulder for training it was manageable. I arrived back home in Des Moines and my first day back, Ashley had purchased some donut holes. Now I enjoy a good donut as much as the next guy, but I am also quietly reminded of an unusual encounter while training with Doug Friman in Runaway Bay, Australia. We used to frequent the Coles Supermarket at night in search of closeout and discounted items. One of the items frequently discounted was the value packs of donuts. Doug was checking out the deal on the donuts when some old guy approached him and said, “Feed those to your enemy!” It seemed ironic at the time since we were there training for triathlon and this old guy approaches us out of the blue to give us advice on battle like he was a sage from Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Doug and I didn’t quite know how to take that advice but we decided not to buy the donuts and managed to make it the whole trip in Australia without once purchasing the discounted donut value pack. While I did have two donut holes when I arrived home in Des Moines it made me think about the big picture, how far I have come since that training camp in Australia, and how far I have left to go. It reminded me of this saying we had at work, “Keep your eye on the donut, not the hole.” While I consumed a couple of donut holes and was reminded of the sage advice to feed the whole donuts to my enemies, I thought it appropriate to keep the big picture in mind.


I left an engineering job at a Fortune 100 company, Alcoa Aluminum, in 2005 to pursue a career as a triathlete. While the economy has since tanked and most recently Alcoa was named number 90 on the Fortune 500 List (down for 80 last year) and posted a loss of 74 million dollars, one year in a company with a rich history like Alcoa is relatively insignificant. Alcoa is still the major player in the world aluminum market and the top US metal company. They are also one of the thirty components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is the stock market index you most commonly see on the news. One poor year and a 74 million dollar loss may seem like a lot but over the next 50 years, that should seem like a few crumbs from a donut hole. The goal for Alcoa, and most businesses right, should be to focus on the donut, the big picture of what is to come, how they can provide sustained growth and profitably. The same is true for my triathlon career. I had a rough start to 2009 in New Orleans but my focus is on the whole donut, not the donut hole. I am on a plane right now to St Croix where I will have my second race of 2009 as I look to improve my racing and performance. The goal is to hone my skills, practice what I need to do in order to be the best triathlete in the world. Experience is crucial, and racing the best competition and toughest conditions is what makes World Champions. The donut is Hawaii and if I want to succeed in Hawaii I have to keep the focus on Hawaii and doing what is necessary to perform well and win at Hawaii. This means racing tough courses in heat and humidity, working on my nutrition to fuel my body in those conditions, and teaching myself how to push beyond my limits. St. Croix is another step, a sprinkle if you will, off the whole donut of my triathlon career and I will make every calorie dense piece of that sprinkle count this weekend.  After all, sometimes the sprinkles are the best part of the donut and I intend on making this stop one of my favorites.


So as I avoid donut holes (replacing them with PowerBar Recovery bars and Muscle Armor) and feed whole donuts to my enemies, I keep the big picture in mind, because if you keep your eye on the hole, you miss the real opportunities right in front of your mouth.


Work Hard,