The Man's Search for Meaning is adapted from Matt Fitzgerald's book 'Iron War', which will be released in October 2011. The Man is Dave Scott, 6-time Ironman champion.
The night before 1988 Ironman, I went for a little jog along Alii Drive just for fun. Everybody laughed at me, because nobody trains hours before the gun goes off. I did encounter another runner, moving probably faster than my best race pace. It was Dave Scott looking fitter than ever, and at that moment there was absolutely no question in my mind who would win the next day.
Except that for some old knee issue, he decided not to start at all. Scott Molina couldn't believe his luck and took the title with a 3:02:42 marathon. I bet The Man couldn't have helped thinking afterwards he could have beaten that with his one good leg alone - after all, he had won in 1987 with a 2:49 marathon.
The moral of the story is that you shouldn't be too critical when judging yourself. Even the bitterest defeat is far better than not trying at all. I don't care if he crosses the finish line first or last, I just hope to see The Man compete in Kona and elsewhere for many years to come.
Here's some rare footage from 1987 Ironman.