It’s my favorite time of year again – triathlon racing season! Time to deliver results for all of the hard training time invested over the past year. Time to compare my performance to not only other racers, but also to my performance in years past. Time to determine whether I hit my goals for the year, or came up short. And to analyze what I can do better for the future. To deliver results in the three disciplines of triathlon is a lot like delivering results in the three disciplines of B2B marketing. There are skills that are common across swimming, cycling, and running, like building a strong aerobic base, just as there are skills that are common across awareness, demand generation, and sales enablement, like having a strong positioning statement. There are also capabilities that are unique to each individual area, in both triathlon, and B2B marketing.
Last week I competed for the 7th year in the Patriot Half Triathlon, in East Freetown, MA. Voted “Best Small Race” by New England triathletes, the race consists of a 1.2 mile swim in Long Pond, a 56 mile bike through the rolling hills, cranberry bogs, and local ponds, and a 13.1 mile run with 3 nasty hills. I had a great race, beating my goal time, and finishing third in my age group. In this post, I’ll analyze my result by leg, and point to additional posts that relate B2B marketing to swimming, cycling, and running.
Top 5 Lessons from the Top 5 Finishers
A few things are apparent by looking at the top 5 finishers in my age group.
- The winner of my age group finished 4th in the whole race! Unbelievable!
- There’s a big time separation between the top 2 finishers and the rest of us. It’s darn hard to break 5 hours in this race!
- Big gains happen out of the water. The swim is the shortest leg, so it’s easy to make up any lost time on the bike and the run. Just compare my results to the 2nd place finisher to see this.
- It all comes down to the run. Having a fast bike leg, but leaving no energy for the run can be devastating. This is most apparent when comparing my results to the 4th place finisher.
- It can pay to be a fast swimmer. Sometimes the swim proves to be the difference in finishing position. See this by comparing my results to the #5 finisher.
B2B Marketing and the Swim Leg
Normally, races begin with a mass start of 40-50 athletes within a cohort. The starting gun goes off, and swimmers jockey for position at the front of the pack, each seeking the best line to the first buoy. If you’re not a strong swimmer, it can be scary, and dangerous. Swimming isn’t known as a contact sport, but in triathlon it is. Arms get tangled. Faces get kicked. Bodies get trampled.
The swim start of this year’s race was done much differently than in any other race. We were sent off in threes, every 10 seconds, in a time trial start. The start was so civilized! No massive scrum. No crawling over bodies. With less pressure to sprint out in front of the main pack, I had a swim leg that was a minute or so slower than usual, but a much more enjoyable experience. For posts on how B2B Marketing relates to swimming, check out my post on the 4Ps of the Marketing Mix.
Cycling and B2B Marketing
Over the past several years, my biggest struggle in triathlon is determining how hard to push on the bike leg. Push too hard, and my legs are jelly when it comes to the run. Walking tends not to have a good impact on one’s finishing time. Go too slow, and I give up valuable time. I’ve never found the right balance of speed and energy conservation.
Until this year. This year’s bike leg was effortlessly fast. I’m not quite sure why. Spring weather wasn’t conducive to a lot of long rides, and I did fewer outside miles this year than any past year. For whatever the reason, I averaged 20.7 mph on the bike, and felt like I could have gone faster without much effort. During the bike leg, I knew that three racers from my age group passed me, but I expected that. For a cycling approach to B2B marketing, check out my blog on using a team pursuit for building a Challenger Sale commercial insight.
It All Comes Down to the Run
You wouldn’t know it from this picture, but I had my best run leg ever at this year’s race. Part of it was the weather. High 60s and overcast the whole race. Part of it was my energy conservation on the bike. And part of it was my constant mantra to just keep running. For the first time, I avoided walking. I averaged 8:13s for the half marathon, taking a few walking steps at each aid station to swallow a bit of energy drink, and then getting back into my stride. The best part of the run was at mile 12, when I caught and passed the competitor who ultimately finished fourth. Read my post on how coming up to speed as an exec at a new company is like a runner catching the leaders on Heartbreak Hill at the Boston Marathon.
How’s Your Season Shaping Up?
In future posts, I’ll share results in the three areas of B2B Marketing. Until then, tell me what you think. How’s your racing season shaping up? Have you been able to deliver results according to your plan?by