Lately, I have been reading anything I can get my hands on to give me information on what I need to do to train for an Ironman. My favorites have been books that features stories of the experiences racers have had in their training and completion of this event. The stories range from people like me who take on a challenge that they never thought they could accomplish, to elite athletes who take on Ironman with varying of degrees of success. Several of the stories have featured competitors who do their first Ironmans, get amazing split and finish times, realizing that they are actually really good at triathlons, decide to turn pro. I am not sure if I had this type of story running through my head and thought that perhaps it might not be as hard as it appeared, or that somehow I was secretly really a pro-triathlete in the making (yeah, right!?). Who knows what I was thinking because, rationally, I should really be proud of myself. Yes, it was only a sprint triathlon (and I say "only" with complete sarcasm), but I didn't merely set the goal of completing this race, I had actually set myself the goal of finishing in under 2:30:00. At 2:21:39 I was well under that time limit. So why, oh why, am I not 100% proud of myself? I may never understand this because, as I said above, I am my own worst enemy.
It is funny how sometimes you come across something that gives you the perfect advice just when you need it. I think the key is to recognize that the advice is for you and that you must try to act on that advice to improve your situation. I was reading the book Becoming an Ironman: First Encounters with the Ultimate Endurance Event by Kara Douglass Thom when I came across a quote by Lyn Brooks, who has completed at least twenty Ironmans in her career. She shares, "...I ask people, 'Were you happy with how you did in the event because I don't care about the times. Were you happy? Was it satisfying?' I think when you go back to numbers and times and places, you set yourself up to fail or to feel like a loser because chances are whatever plans you lay out, they're not going to play out that way. I've seen so many people train so hard and then they piss the whole experience away because it wasn't what they wanted to do. It's not how fast or how slow, it's just, are you present? Are you appreciating the fact that you have a healthy body that gives you the privilege of doing something like this? I am very appreciative because I also know it can turn on a dime--on a dime." I don't want to "piss away" this wonderful journey I am on by letting the race numbers measure my success. This reminds me a lot of how I sometimes let the scale's numbers determine how successful I feel with the progress I am making on improving my body. Again...I am my own worst enemy!
I have made a lot of progress this summer--I completed my first triathlon; I have been taking supplements every day for more than a month now; I play in the water with my family at the beach instead of sitting on my chair watching the action; and I even wore my bikini to the beach (miracle of all miracles). I know I have said it before, but I need to focus on the huge progress I have made and not worry about being perfect. I am hoping that if I repeat it enough it will eventually sink in, and I will learn to be present as I experience all the amazing things I will encounter over the next year. "Focus on your progress--you don't have to be perfect. Focus on your progress--you don't have to be perfect. Focus on your progress--you DON'T have to be Perfect!" There, now...maybe I will believe this advice enough to finally live it.