Training with some lovely ladies in the rain in Cali...
So, what's been going on in my world? A lot of the same, and a lot a whole lot different. Let's start with the triathlon front. A year ago I was ready to throw in the towel and retire. I had an injury that I just couldn't shake and months went by without the training I needed to be doing to be competitive. This took a lot out of me physically and probably more out of me emotionally. But somehow I turned it around and got some decent training in the back half of the year, but still not enough to be competitive in 2013. The good news is that work is still in the bank, and I'm enjoying the deposits now. I'm happy to say I'm healthy, fit, and eager to race in 2014. I just got back from San Diego last week. I spent a week there with my coach to really get in some good bike mileage, as the weather here in Tulsa has not been conducive to Ironman base mileage. In years past I would have never left the kids and gone to do something like this. I think the biggest reason why is because I felt guilty doing it. In 2014 I'm trying to change my attitude on how I approach being a pro triathlete. #1. Stop apologizing to everyone about it. This is my job. Some people go and sit at a desk. I get to ride my bike. Yes, it's not traditional. Yes, I love it. So why do I constantly feel the need to say sorry to everyone about it? I have had a lot of soul searching the last year. I'm 35 years old. I'm not going to do this forever. My coach and my mom brought something to light that I never even thought of. They both (separately) told me that I'm not scared of failure--that is quite evident because I'm always willing to put myself out there and knowingly get a good ass kicking. But the problem is I seem to be scared of success. At first hearing this I rolled my eyes, "Whatever, don't get all philosophical on me! Plus, I've had some success, so I'm obviously not scared of it." No, no, no, no..... I began to really think about what they were saying. What is it that holds me back? I think the biggest is guilt--guilt of leaving my kids for a week to train. Guilt that this sport is selfish. Guilt of going to races and the kids are back home. Guilt that sometimes I'm so tired I don't want to push them on the swing, I just want to sit there and watch at the playground. Am I scared of success because I fear that means I'm not a good mother or a good partner? Would I judge another pro triathlete mom or dad for going to race or train in order to put food on the table for their kids? Absolutely not. And then I take another step back and wonder why am I so hard on myself? When did I adopt these attitudes and why? I have some ideas and I'm just starting to scratch the surface. It's required me to ask some tough questions and face some hard issues. But in doing so I'm getting more clarity and connecting the dots in a lot of ways. I'm learning to be kinder to myself. I finally feel like I'm getting "it" and as that happens everything seems to be coming together as far as training and finding peace. That's a good feeling to have.
This leads me to the next major change in my life. Recently a classmate from West Point wrote me. He's running for Congress and asked for a financial contribution for his campaign. I told him as a single mother and an ex-husband in medical school I wasn't in a position to contribute financially, but I would certainly help in a different way if he needed it. He responded with something like, "You're divorced??? I'm really surprised and sorry!!!" It kind of took my off guard. I feel like I'm very open, or at least I am in person so I just assumed everyone knew. Perhaps I'm not as open as I thought via my blog or Facebook or Twitter. Yes, I am not married. And despite all the recommendations of not jumping into a new relationship, I did and I jumped head first. And now I understand why this is not recommended! So, my major change is that for the first time in many many years I am completely single. And you might be wondering how that is going. Or you might not, but I'm going to tell you anyway :) Okay, get ready for it because I'm going to do that thing where I tie it into triathlon...When I did Ironman Arizona last year, I told my crew that the hardest and scariest part was the unknown. Standing in the starting area, in the dark, alone, hoping that you're prepared but also knowing things can go wrong or south quickly. But on the other hand, you can have the race of your life and get it right and how amazing is that?! But for me, this is the hardest part. Just not knowing. But pretty soon the cannon goes off and your race starts to unfold. And you focus on controlling the controllables...and you let go of the things out of your control. As triathletes we are so OCD, it's hard to let things be that are out of our control--both in races in life. But doing so is necessary in order for things to unfold, because they are going unfold no matter what, so what does worrying or beating yourself up solve? Absolutely nothing. When I race, I'm very good at focusing on me, and me alone. How do I set myself up to have the best race possible? I don't care what x, y, and z are doing. They don't effect my outcome. And this is certainly true in life as well. My focus is on me, making myself whole, making myself the best version of myself I can be. I'm finding happiness outside of a person. Because the fact is if you are looking at one another to make the other happy, you're already playing a loser's hand. And so far, as my "race" unfolds I'm just really proud of myself. I'm not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you life is just hunky dory all the time, or that I don't have sad and lonely moments. But those moments seem to be with less frequency, and it does get easier. And I have so much more time and energy to "control the controllables." The biggest? Being the best mom I can be. Being present and happy with them. Making sure they know they are loved and my inspiration for just about everything I do. The next is focusing on the process of being a pro triathlete. This isn't just training. It's also sleeping, eating, recovery, and the biggest is changing the inner-dialogue in my head. I don't have room for negativity of any kind, and I will not let it invade my head space. Am I 100% perfect at this? No. But I'm sure a heck of a lot better than I was! I control what goes on between my ears. I control my attitude and my outlook. Next, becoming more involved with Team Red, White and Blue (RWB) has given me so much joy and inspiration. I am so incredibly proud to say that I (along with good friend Christi) got the Tulsa chapter started and I'm simply humbled by the response. This is a cause I believe in with such passion and sincerity. I can't begin to thank my community for continuing to get the word out and support by rocking the eagle. "Its Our Turn!!" Lastly, strengthening my relationships with family and friends has been some of the most gratifying experiences of all this. It's amazing the support that comes out during tough times. They remind me that I'm stronger than I think, more resilient than ever, and when I come out of the other side I'll be a better person for having experienced it.
When you finish a race and it's not the outcome you were hoping for, it's easy to beat yourself up and be disappointed and even angry. It's easy to take it personally and to label yourself a "failure." But if you've ever read a race report of mine, you'll know that's just not my style. I always look for the things I did right, I acknowledge what I can and will do better next time. These are the lessons learned for a better race next time. I always hold my chin up because at least I had the courage to get out there and try, no matter what the outcome is. I choose to take away the good, learn from the not so good, and let the rest go and carry on. And I have a deep faith life will turn out as it should.