I realized this past week that I haven’t written a blog entry since the cold, dark days of January. Yes, life has been very busy with being a mom, a teacher, a coach, and my training. But other factors have been at play as well. I feel like I’ve been cruising through life. My kids are happy (most of the time) and healthy, my jobs have kept me feeling productive and busy, and my training and racing have been quite smooth (knock on wood). In fact, I haven’t felt like I have had a “blog-worthy experience” in quite some time.
Until this weekend…. I was competing in the Mont Tremblant 70.3 triathlon. My goal for this season was to use Mont Tremblant 70.3 as my qualifier for the 70.3 World championship race in Chattanooga. I have competed in 70.3 World’s in the past, but not since 2007. I’ve qualified for it the past couple of years, but I wasn’t about to plan a family trip to Australia OR leave the family behind for a week while I took a trip to Australia to compete in a triathlon. It just didn’t seem right!! So since this race finally moved back to the USA, this was my chance to go back to this world-class affair. No ironmans for me this year. I was going to see how I could do in my age group at 70.3 Worlds. This was my target for the season.
I wasn’t too nervous leading up to the race in Mont Tremblant. I felt very well prepared and confident that unless something unexpected went wrong, I would accomplish my goal of qualifying for worlds. I’ve been offered a slot many times in the past. This was my year to cash in on the offer. My husband asked me to predict my splits so he and the boys could be ready to cheer me on as I headed off on the run and ran down the finishing chute in the village of Mont Tremblant. So I laid out my “best case scenario” splits for my husband: 30 minute swim, 2:30 on the bike, and 1:30 on the run. If they were in position based on these splits, they would be sure to see me.
Fast forward to the race… I came out of the swim at 30 minutes. I was thrilled with my split – right on track for my ideal race. I came in on the bike in 2:29. Could this really be true? My split was faster than my best-case scenario. I was ecstatic to be able to give all 3 boys high fives as I headed out onto the run course. The run was my strength. I had this in the bag. I pushed through to the end, able to maintain a relatively consistent pace throughout the run. As I ran through the finishing chute, I spotted my family again. 3 more high fives to dole out until I crossed that finish line. I crossed the finish line as the 2nd amateur woman. Mission accomplished. My splits: 30 min swim, 2:29 bike, 1:29 run. I surpassed my best-case scenario. I was thrilled. My race could not have gone any better.
I gathered myself post-race and went to find my husband and kids. Immediately my husband informed me that the results had me listed as 3rd overall female and 3rd in my age group. WHAT?? I was 2nd to cross the finish line. Okay, so maybe the woman in front of me was in my age group but what are the chances? I’m 41 years old after all! Even if she was in my age group, that would leave me in 2nd place and not 3rd! After a bit more research it turned out that a woman who finished behind me actually beat me due to the rolling start, as she has started after I did. AND yes, she was in my age group. So in fact, after having a fantastic race, I finished as the 3rd amateur and 3rd in my age group, F40-44. I even beat half of the pro women in the field. And I was left at 3rd place in my age group. How many slots were being allocated to my age group for Worlds? It could be only two. After having the best race I could have had, I perhaps still didn’t capture the coveted slot to 70.3 Worlds. And the 2nd place woman beat me by 14 seconds. If only, I hadn’t run past my bike in T1. If only, I hadn’t fumbled with my helmet strap in T1. If only, if only, if only….
3rd amateur and 3rd in my age group. Where the heck did all these fast 40 year olds come from? What was going on in Canada?? I might not get a slot. It just didn’t seem fair. I beat so many younger women who definitely would be getting slots. I may not have accomplished my goal for the season. Then what? What would I do? What next? The awards ceremony and slot allocation would occur at 4:00. I retired to my condo. Although being thrilled with my result, I was a bit dejected at the fact that my goal may not come to fruition. If I didn’t get a slot, what would I do with the rest of my season? I quickly scoured the ironman website to see what other races remained that were qualifiers for Chattanooga. I found only one remaining option in North America – Muncie, IN. Maybe I would go to Muncie to get my slot in two weeks. Muncie could be nice…. Would I actually go there and race? Would I make that sacrifice financially and with my family interrupting our summer plans? Realistically, I probably would not be going to Muncie, Indiana. I would have to find a new goal for my 2017 season. It would certainly not be as glamorous as 70.3 Worlds, but perhaps I could come up with something. I could do Maine 70.3. I could do Pumpkinman. But neither was comparable. Neither was the race I was shooting for.
After throwing myself a pity party, I decided to not dwell on disappointment until I had a reason to. So off to the awards ceremony we went in the pouring rain… After handing out the awards, they started the slot allocation process, and quickly it became evident that many athletes were not there to claim their slots. Slots started to roll down quite drastically. In some age groups, it got to the point where they were giving away slots to anyone in the given age group who was in the vicinity. It was crazy! The fact that these slots did not appear to be in high demand gave me a bit more confidence that I would in fact get one. Cutting to the chase, they finally arrived at the 40-44 age group, and it was announced that there were 3 slots available for the women. So I did it. I got my slot. I had earned my slot. Mission accomplished. I was going to Worlds.
When I was thinking about how I could move on with my season despite the disappointment of not accomplishing my goal, I thought, “well this will be a GREAT blog entry!” I had done all that I could do. I had executed the perfect race. I wouldn’t have done anything differently. But I didn’t reach my goal. And then I needed to shift my thinking, move forward, and find another way to make my season a success. But then I got my slot. It all went according to plan in the end. So where’s my blog entry?!
This got me thinking that I don’t need to necessarily overcome adversity to reflect upon things. When things are going well, it’s just as important to think about why things are going well. What are the factors at play? Why are things unfolding the way they have been scripted? Why have I not had to face significant adversity over the past several months? Part of it for sure is luck. But certainly other factors contribute to the fact that things I’ve been cruising through life.
I came up with three factors that I think weigh in significantly to my cruising through life over the past several months. First off is my diligence in training. Every morning I set my alarm for 5:00 AM. And every morning I get up. On occasion I hit the snooze button. But never more than once. And usually I get up before the alarm sounds for the 2nd time… When I set goals, I commit to them. And I stick to the plan. I rarely (aka only in emergencies) miss a workout. If it’s in my plan and I think it will help me reach my goal, I do it. I don’t think about it, I just do it. Even when I’m tired. And sometimes not feeling 100%. Sometimes I’ll adapt a bit if I think it’s in my best interest. But I always do it. Don’t think about it, just do it.
The second factor that I thought of that has contributed to my cruising through life is that I feel like I have a good sense on my priorities. My family comes first. Always. Nothing else matters as much as my family. So if a workout doesn’t go as well as I had hoped it would, it just doesn’t seem to matter as much. My kids don’t care if I had a good swim or a bad swim. What’s more important is being there for them and making sure they are having a good day. I think this is why I don’t get as anxious and nervous before races anymore. I’m just as driven to perform well and just as determined to train and race hard, but I don’t seem to be quite as invested in the result. It’s just not as important as other things in my life. I think this realization has actually helped my performance rather than hurting it. Not caring quite as much about my result seems to have taken off a bit of pressure off of the result. So it helps to keep things in perspective and have a firm sense of your priorities. Arriving at the position where I feel like my priorities are aligned with how I spend my time and energy is a crucial piece to “cruising through life”.
The last factor that I came up with has contributed to my cruising through life is my focus on maintaining a strong and positive mindset. I always tell my athletes: strong mind = strong body. It’s not your body that fails you in training and in racing. Rather, it’s your mind. I had early thoughts of feeling fatigued and a bit too much of the quad burn early on in the bike. But instead of thinking, “uh oh, I’m tired – it’s early on in the race and I’ve got a long way to go”, I thought, “my legs should be burning. If they aren’t burning, it means I’m not pushing myself. Now let’s go!” I truly think that happiness and success in life is all about focusing on the positives and not dwelling on the negatives. And whenever possible, turning those negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Your interpretation of events and circumstances in life is all within your control. Don’t dwell on the negatives. Dwell on the positives. My kids are so critical in helping me maintain this perspective. One minute they are crying and the next minute they are laughing. They let go of things so easily. They epitomize the importance of staying in the moment. It’s not always easy, but I try to follow their lead as best I can.
Strong mind = strong body. Cruising through life with diligence, my priorities aligned, and a strong focus on the positives. I’m sure I will have more adversity to overcome, which may be the topic for future blog entries. But until then I’m content to continue cruising through life!