Triathletes are known for their competitive nature and Type-A personalities. While broad strokes rarely do everyone justice, we must admit that many of us fit the bill. The goal is finding a balance.
While I am keenly aware it is unlikely I'll win any races, I do like to collect data for comparison with future performances. My training log includes times for every training session, and I pay attention to how my performance is tracking. I know what my personal bests are before I step to the starting line of any race.
On the other hand, I am rarely worried about a single "bad" performance. Off days are a factor of life, and it takes more than a slow pace to ruin my day. Just as you won't have a PR every time you enter a race, you won't have a PW (personal worst) every time, either. In any race, find the lessons there are to be learned, and find out how to improve for the next race.
Today, I set one of those bars. As of this morning, I have a rough idea of what I am capable of in an Ironman swim. The initial placement of the bar is at 1 hour 41 minutes. It's not a high bar, so there is plenty of room for improvement. It is, however, far enough off the floor (of 2 hours 20 minutes) that there is also room for a bad day.
And there are a great many factors that must be considered. First, this mornings swim was actually 4400 yards, or 2.5 miles. It was easier than figuring out the laps for 2.4 miles. So, that's 1:41 with an extra 176 yards (about 4 minutes for me). This was done in a pool, and included 179 turns. That will definitely be missing in Louisville. I should also be going with the current in the Ironman, and wearing a wetsuit. I will, however, be in open water with a few thousand others. Those factors might tend to slow me down.
My co-worker has asked several times if I believed I could complete the entire 2.4 mile swim. The response, in the past, has always been, "I think I can." The "think" has been turned into a "know." Of course, as I've also told him, completing the swim is really only a minor detail. Much more important is how easily I can jump on a bike after the swim.
This morning, that would have been VERY difficult. Fortunately, it's December. I guarantee that will change in the next several months.