Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A story of successes

Comfort and confidence. Two things I'd like a little more of these days. I'm inside of 4 months to Ironman and with the unpredictability of the last 5 months, I'm doing everything possible not to let the unruliness of my life lately accidentally hit the panic button on my Ironman dreams.

I started this post recapping exactly how tough the last 5 months have been, but I've just deleted it all and decided to continue with a different perspective. Here's something that I read in a Tea Shop (of all places) this morning.

"Writing our goals and intentions down on paper is a powerful act. By simply naming and visualizing our dreams and desires, we move closer to realizing them. As we discover what it is we really want, we attain the power to create our own destinies and change our lives."
"Change isn't easy. Readjusting patterns that we have had for years takes work. Don't waste time blaming yourself or anyone else - neither will get you closer to your goal. Remember to take time to celebrate every one of your successes, something too few of us do, in order to stay motivated and positive. Be sure to recognize when circumstances change and shift direction accordingly."

These two montra's of "intention" hit home for me. The first one because it's something SO SIMPLE and has such a huge impact. I have a board in my front hallway that has random clippings of magazine articles, photos of places I'd like to go, things I'd like to do and most importantly, things that inspire me to keep going. When I say "things" they are just that. I printed a comment that both my Mom and Dad posted on my blog a long time ago where both of them say how proud they are of me. I have that pinned up there front and center. I have inspirational quotes/articles from magazines, and of course, I have my Ironman registration confirmation page pinned right up at the top.

I don't stop and read these things everyday, I rarely re-read them after I post them. But there they are, a part of my every day life just as much as anything else in my home.

Stumbling upon that second quote was the universes way of telling me that I'm on the right track. Being on the slow road to recovery with this back injury, I've reconsidered my approach to training moving ahead with my Ironman preparation.

I train with a group of triathletes through a club here in Vancouver. The athletes in the club all vary in abilities and experience, but for the most part, these are fairly accomplished athletes with serious fitness and racing goals. Where their triathlon goals and successes lack, they usually make up in many years of running/cycling/swimming experience which still makes them contending athletes all around. This can make this a daunting group to train with on my best of days.

I've always struggled with the conflict between being highly competitive and lacking natural athletic talent. This has gotten particularly worse since I've started training harder, and taking my triathlon goals more seriously. I can't seem to shake off the negativity when I get lapped, passed or dropped in the workouts. The screaming thoughts of "you've been doing this for how long?? and you still can't keep up with the pack?" "Why is this so hard? Everyone else is breezing through this workout and I'm dropping back" "I put so much effort in.... how come I'm still so far behind?"

I know and understand the concept of "run your own race" "train for you, not for them" and that everyone is at different levels. But it's still really devastating to me not to be the athlete that I wish so badly I was. I've tried, I can't seem to shake it.

So... Here's my point. I've been starting to panic about my progress training this year and when I look at my clubs training program seeing that I should be going out for a 3.30h bike ride on Saturday and after a swim workout Sunday morning, I should be heading out for my 2.00h easy run, I'm already disappointed that today I am only back running 45 minutes after my injury.

Ok, ok, before you remind me that I'm recovering and that I should take it easy... I know. But it just doesn't help to keep me positive and motivated when I'm reminded exactly where I'm supposed to be... and where I'm not.

Here's where the change comes in. I've decided that I won't likely be training with the club much more. I need to get back to a place in my mind where Ironman isn't about a race or a sport, but what it's always been about to me - a crazy dream and the journey getting there. I'm setting myself free of the self destruction of mile repeats on the track or keeping up with a pace line. I'm going back to celebrating every little success in a way I deserve (and need).

When I started this journey I could barely run a mile. I did my first triathlon on a mountain bike and breaststroked my way through the 750M swim. Now, when I climb up Cypress Mountain I'm disappointed because (usually) I'm the last one to the top. WHAT THE HELL?? I just climbed a mountain... that's worth celebrating!

The last thing I want is to cross the finish line at Ironman and look back and think "I could have been faster. I should have made up more time. Everyone I trained with finished hours ago." Like hell I'm gonna let that happen. From this day forward, mine is a story of successes.

I ran 45 minutes today. I'm on my way baby. See you at the finish line.


  1. Good for you, Sarah! Goals that people set out are personal in nature, and should remain that way. Although it's nice to have someone push you in times of need, having a positive outlook on the whole training process will assist you more in the end. It will sure make the whole experience more enjoyable....and memorable! Good luck! I really hope to be there to cheer my girl on in August!

  2. Obstacles are things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. I'm around world class triathletes working with the Ironman folks and trust me you have the right perspective to be successful in anything you set your mind to. I saw it in you at the Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games and you'll achieve great success with your upcoming triathlon as well. Swim, Bike and Run Sarah!! You're the best!!

  3. “Remember to take time to celebrate every one of your successes, something too few of us do…”

    You know, its funny timing for that quote. Just this weekend on a section of the trail I run there’s a short but steep climb. In a self competitive way, I look forward to it every time I run and at the same time despise it…sometimes I say “I’m just gonna stop and walk for a moment”…ahhh that’d feel SO good!

    But you always push through and this past weekend when I got to the top, I briefly stopped, didn’t care about my running time being any better than last weekend and did exactly what you said, celebrated that success. It was so small, but just awesome at the same time when you mindfully acknowledge what you just did, no matter how small.

    There I stood raising my hands and punching the air in front of me like an idiot, I didn’t care who saw me, I smiled, then continued on…shaking my head and almost laughing at the whole thing. That extra 15 seconds I stopped to do that was best section of my whole run.

    Thanks for sharing that Sarah!