Tuesday, September 8, 2015

If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.

After finishing Ironman Lake Placid in July last year, my focus should have shifted to healing my hip/glute so that I could have a strong 2015 triathlon season, but instead I got scared away from what would happen if I wasn’t able to get better and couldn’t ride long distance anymore as that’s what seemed to be the root of my problems.  I was really confused about what my dreams were, what my plan of action was going to be for my hip, and I just couldn’t find focus.  What I did know was that I was 90% sure I could train for a marathon with minimal hip/glute issues (at least minimal compared to long distance tri training).  So, I thought why not chase that Boston dream?! 

The problem:  I turned Boston into my “dream” even though it wasn’t necessarily something that lit me up.  This is not to say that Boston is not a goal of mine, but is it something that gives me butterflies thinking about it? No.  Is it a goal that scares me? No.  I have very little doubt in my ability to qualify for Boston (heck, I already have a BQ…it was just 13 seconds off from getting me to the start line).  This is not me being cocky or overly confident – I know my body and I know my abilities and I understand that a BQ is a big deal that many people spend years chasing.  I am not taking anything away from the accomplishment, I just don’t doubt my ability to accomplish it, if trained properly.

The thing is, I need to be chasing goals that light me up.  Goals that scare the crap out of me.  Goals that motivate me to jump out of bed in the morning.  I also need to be passionate about my training or it will fail.  Training for the Cleveland marathon proved to me that if I am not 100% passionate about what I am training for then it just isn’t going to go as planned, or perhaps it will, but I will be a miserable human being. 

The solution: Simple – I am a triathlete, not a runner.  It took me training for another marathon to realize that while I do really enjoy running, running alone is not my passion.  I love to be in the saddle.  I wake up with so much excitement when I go to bed knowing that a long ride is on my schedule the next morning.  I love how much I have to overcome swimming.  I love running off the bike.  I am a triathlete.  I am competitive.  As a competitive triathlete that loves to go the distance… that really scary dream is Kona.  I have no idea if this goal is feasible.  It scares me so much, but such a big dream puts me in a place where I can find that focus and really enjoy the journey and take each workout for what it is.

My year “off” was so necessary.  A few weeks ago, I had a run that involved LONG, STRONG/FAST HILL REPEATS.  I was not as strong as I hoped I would be.  I struggled and almost threw up after each hill.  It was supposed to hurt and it was supposed to be hard, but I should have felt stronger.  A year ago, I would have been discouraged and gotten down on myself.  This year, I thought “Wow, I am already racing pretty strong and feeling good so just imagine how I will be racing if I keep working hard and start to feel stronger during and after workouts like this one!  I have so much room to grow and my big dreams of the big Island might not be so silly if I keep putting in the work!”

I have always been a pretty positive person, but in the past I can guarantee I would have come home from that workout down on myself.  But this time around, I came home excited to see that opportunity for growth.  That’s what it means to enjoy the journey.  I was in the moment in that workout.  I was 100% focused on finishing as strong as I could and I wasn’t judging myself or getting down on myself for not being as strong or fast as I would have liked.

This year taught me how to be in the moment, how to be smart and respect my body.  In 2014, training for Lake Placid I learned how to respect my body when it really needed an extra day off.  As athletes, we often push through workouts simply because they are on the schedule – even when our bodies are telling us that we need to dial back the intensity for the day or take the day off.  I learned to listen and respect my body.  One of my number one rules is that if I am feeling extra tired or off on a particular day – start the warmup.  If after a good warmup my body is still telling me “NO” then I dial it back/modify the workout or call it a day depending on what exactly I am feeling.  Usually, I am ready to crush my workout after a good warmup, but on occasion, my body just simply needs an extra recovery day, and that’s OK!  That was such a big lesson.

This year as I have been working to become a more competitive triathlete I have learned to respect my body in another way: trust it and believe in it, even when it tells me it’s “done.”  I know I have a lot in me, but it is HARD WORK to get faster and stronger and it is SO MENTAL  I have to trust my body and mind and know that I am able to push through some serious discomfort, especially on race day. I have really been learning how to become a strong athlete MENTALLY and not limit myself because it’s hard, uncomfortable, and quite frankly – painful.

In my 2015 training and racing season, I have learned so much and really kind of found myself as an athlete.  I have big, scary dreams that I am truly passionate about and I am so excited for the journey ahead as I chase my big dreams and continue learning how to be the best, smartest, happiest athlete I can be.  One more race, next weekend(Nation’s Triathlon), followed by a nice rejuvenating unstructured off season, and then it’s time to get stronger and faster and smarter for 2016.  I am looking forward to racing Chattanooga 70.3 with Anthony and I could not be more excited to race in beautiful Mont Tremblant for my second 140.6! (And I think it's a really good sign that I get butterflies in my belly when I think about my next Ironman race!) 

If you're still reading, a quick side thought on this blog.  I go in and out of blogging..I go out of it at times because I feel a bit self centered just writing about my life and training for others to read.  Sometimes it bothers me - I have the same qualms with social media. But I go in for a few more reasons.  I hope that some can read this and find inspiration, motivation, strength, and some sort of connection.  I think having passions and hobbies makes life livable.  I work really hard at work, but being able to afford my pass times is what makes me really appreciate work and want to work harder.  I am a huge advocate of having a work-life balance and putting family, health, and LIFE first.  Of course there is a time and a place to put work on a pedestal, but I just find that far too many people aren't truly LIVING.  I hope that this can motivate people to find that balance. Find that health and happiness while still working hard to make a living.  Everyone's life and journey is different.  Not everyone can make the time to train for an Ironman (ok, most just don't want to and that's fair), but I truly believe everyone should be able to make time to find health and happiness.  

Lastly, this blog helps me so much.  Writing down the thoughts that shape my life is really helpful in finding focus for me.  It's so easy for me to question why I do what I do, but when I think about it and put write it down, I realize that I am passionate about it and I have one life...why wouldn't I do what I am truly passionate about?  It may be selfish, but if I didn't have my passions to follow, I wouldn't ever be truly present, I wouldn't be full of the life that I am.  I believe that being more physically present but without that light and fullness is far more selfish than being physically less present, but full of life when I am around others.  And so... that is why I choose to live this triathlife and it is just icing on the cake that my husband and I can share this passion. 

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