Week five is almost over and I still haven’t written the highlights of week four because I have been processing week four. Mostly it was great, but Saturday was a difficult day. I know difficult/hard days happen in training – a bad day is bound to happen when you are training for something for 18 weeks!
Swimming and running are going well. Because of my coaching duties for the run program (the ladies are doing amazingly), I am not 100% following the run workouts, but what I am doing is going well and I am feeling stronger in running than I have in a long time.
On Saturday we did a 41 mile ride. The morning didn’t start out all that great… I was having difficulty with our stupid pump (note to self: get a new tire pump!) so I had to wake up Matt who had been out late the night before and wasn’t too pleased to be woken up at 6:45 in the morning by a frustrated wife telling him it needed to be fixed NOW. Matt got the tire pumped up, but when he disconnected the pump from the air-thingy, the tube popped…10-15 upsetting minutes later and a couple “screw riding today” moments, and I was on my way to meet the team for our ride. I got to our meeting place and off we went with me saying, “this has to be a great ride because it has started so shitty that it can only get better.” Famous last words…
It was a great ride, really. It was a gorgeous morning to be riding, and of course I was surrounded with people I love to spend my Saturday mornings with. Around mile 18 we started to climb…we had hit a few uphills prior, but it wasn’t until 18 that the climbing really began. The first climb was a long and meandering climb…I felt semi-strong going up it, maintaining the lead for quite some time and then I slowed and people started passing me. That is fine – I really don’t mind being passed on hills…it happens.
The next hill, around mile 22 or so was the hill that really did a number on me – more of a psychological number than a physical number. Yes. It was hard physically, but what really messed me up was that I could see just how steep the friggin’ thing was and just when I thought I was reaching the top, the road would turn and I would see another long and steep climb.
It was on this hill that the negative thoughts came rushing in. It was as I was traversing myself up the hill that thoughts of “what the hell am I doing here,” “who the hell do I think I am thinking I can complete a half Ironman triathlon again,” “who the hell am I to think I have the ability to coach people through their first triathlon or half marathon if I can’t even get up a freaking hill” went through my head.
Thinking like this isn’t going to continue to propel me forward. And, while I continued moving forward, I allowed the negative thoughts to take control and the rest of the ride continued to be difficult – even when it wasn’t difficult – even when I was climbing hills I climb all the time with ease – even when I was riding strong…the strength that day didn’t matter…all that mattered was that I sucked. Or so I believed.
I knew before I started this ride that I wasn’t really mentally in it, and I let the defeating thoughts get the best of me. But here is what I realized while I let myself really process what was going on over the last week…
I am going to have bad days. Bad days happen to every athlete. Having a bad day does not mean that I suck. It means that I had a bad day and that is it.
What makes me strong, even when I am feeling weak is that I keep going. As I trudged up hill after hill, as the negative thoughts swarmed around in my head, there was never a moment when I thought about giving up. I believe it is that attitude that makes me a good athlete…and even a better coach…I never give up on myself – I may doubt myself, but I never give up. And, something I never allow my athletes to do is doubt themselves.
A couple weeks ago one of my runners was having a “bad” day. I was running a little bit ahead of her and just yelled, “get out of your head”. She kind of giggled and said, “how did you know!?” I just did. I have been in her place more times than I can count. I knew what she was thinking…I knew exactly each and every one of the negative things she was probably saying to herself. And what I said to her at the end of that “bad” run was, “what is great is that you never stopped…you were always moving forward. Bad runs happen, what is important is that you keep moving.” (Well, I don’t know if I was that thoughtful at the moment, but you get the point.)
What am I doing out here? I am doing what I love to do with people I love to surround myself with.
Who the hell do I think I am thinking I can complete a half Ironman triathlon? I am an athlete…I am a triathlete and competing in triathlons is what triathletes do. I deserve to be out there just as much as everyone else, regardless of what I look like in spandex.
Who the hell am I to think I have the ability to coach people through their first triathlon or half marathon if I can’t even get up a freaking hill? I do have the ability…I take my moments of feeling defeat and I use them as a way to support my athletes…I take my moments of defeat and I turn them into moments of triumph – for myself and for them.