Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pivotal moments

Maybe it's because I'm getting to the end of this training cycle. Maybe it's because it's the end of the year that I found myself thinking about my entire tri-career. At the end of the year, we all get a little reflective, don't we?

You don't?

Well then you just don't have a soul.

I can look back at three pivotal moments that changed my perspective or my direction, or they just changed me as a person and athlete. If you are relatively new to any sport, you will go through these times. Everyone does.

In 2008, I DNF'd at Ironman CDA. There were many reasons why it happened. I was jacked up for awhile. There was a lot going on my life at that time. I know now that I was not ready for the race....given what was going on in my life.

For months, I didn't know what I wanted from the sport. I was lost. I quit triathlon for a year. I ran a bit. I stayed away from the pool. I didn't touch my bike.

I almost quit permanently.

If you haven't figured it out, I'm constantly in a state of self-analysis. I'm constantly looking to be better. I'm constantly striving for more. In order to do that, you have to look at the ugly. This period of time, I had to look at the ugly.

I realized that Ironman was WAY too big of a commitment for me. I realized that I really did love the sport. I love the complexity. I love being good at one thing and not so good at something else. I loved the community of people that made up the sport.

But you know what? I was tired of being slow. I was tired of just making the cut off. I was tired of being last at every single race. If I completed CDA, I would have finished just at the 17 hour mark....or maybe I wouldn't have made the cut off at all.

I wanted to get faster.

And, I could still enjoy all those things, that I really loved about triathlon, by focusing on sprint and oly distances. I could work on becoming faster. If and when I had the urge, I could go long, again....down the waaaaay down the road.

It might not seem like it, but it was a huge change for me. Everyone wants to go longer. There were times I was tempted to, but I kept going back to what is really important to me.

For next few years, that's what I did.

The next big event is what I call The Gap. It was the time that I was between coaches: Dec 2013 through mid Jan 2014.

I almost gave up triathlon again. This time, I was even more lost than after CDA. I was really frustrated. That's the best way that I can describe it. I was lost and frustrated. I took off from training completely for two weeks.
What do I do when I no longer knew what I wanted? I wasn't enjoying triathlon anymore.

During this time, I lost more friendships in about a two month period than I've lost my entire life, and I almost destroyed brand new relationships. These were people who I trained with, raced with, emailed and texted constantly.

Can there be triathlon without them? I would have a great race, pick up my phone to text them....only to remember that they were gone. No more funny texts back and forth. No more anxiously awaiting updates from someone who was racing.

I was in dark place.

I learned a very important lesson: the power of forgiveness. I forgave the people who hurt me. I forgave myself for hurting others. I had to do it in order to move on. After all, the triathlon community is small. Regardless of whether we are besties or enemies, we will see each other at races and training events.

Anyone can tell you that emotional baggage will weigh you down more than any physical limitations.


I found a new coach.

I joined a new masters.

I found a whole new world of friends.

Things began to change.....

Over the next two years, I made gains bigger than in all my tri-years put together. I got my first AG win. I qualified for the National Championship 4 times in one year.

I was in a good place, a really really good place.

The most recent pivotal moment was Nationals 2015.

This didn't have the personal emotions or any of the issues from CDA. This was about accountability.

Accountability is the wholehearted embrace of what you desperately want to ignore.

After Nationals, I took a few weeks off from coaching. I'd been racing & travelling for 8 months. My pools were both closed. I needed time away from being analyzed. I needed time off from power and paces and heart rate.

I was able to think and once again analyze.

If the previous 2 years taught me anything, it was that I wasn't going to reach my goals if I kept doing what I was doing. My training wasn't the issue. My coach wasn't the issue.

I was the issue. Right then, I knew what I had to do. I signed up with a nutritionist. I read back over race reports. I went through my TP log.

I made a list. If I want to go sub 6 at my 70.3, if I want to make Team USA, these are the things that have to change.

I can excuse race or training performance away. OR, I can take 100% accountability for every step I take.

Let me tell you this. It is not easy to do that. Once again, I had to face the ugly, but I did it.
Since then, I have been more driven, more determined than I have ever been.
No excuses.
I own each and every success. I own each and every failure. I either make it happen, or I don't.

This triathlon life, it's a journey unlike anything else has been for me. I'm still amazed at how long I've done this. I look back at my first sprint (finish time: 2:45). I think about my best sprint today (finish time: 1:13). I did that. I know that women who are just starting, look at me when I show up. I know what they think because I did the same thing at my first races. "She's one of the fast ones."

I'm here now, doing what I'm doing because of the times I almost gave up. When you line up at your next race and you look at everyone around you, remember...they all have their own stories. Those stories put them at the starting line.

Now, it's time for me to write my next chapter.