Focusing on the right stuff

I am few days away from my first Bay swim triathlon (Mermaid Series Sprint), so instead of just writing, “I sucked it” I can look at things with a little better perspective on how things went down.

Not that any of what I am going to say at this moment is an excuse, but I went into this triathlon with rather low expectations…I am still nursing my foot injury from my marathon  and on Wednesday night I had a horrible womanly issue arise unexpectedly (look away boys) and I had an ovarian cyst burst. So, knowing I was dealing with those things, my expectations were lessened from placing to just finishing. So, imagine my surprise when I didn’t place how upset I was about it. And here is why I was disappointed:

I felt confident. I was nervous, but not anxious about the swim. When I got in the water, I found it wasn’t cold, I could touch where we started…I felt good as I waited for the gun to announce the start of the race.

The swim started great. I was swimming strong and breathing well. Suddenly, and without any warning, it felt like someone was standing on my chest. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.  I scissor-kicked and breast stroked for awhile, just trying to catch my breath. Then I unzipped my wet suit and everything opened up and I was able to breathe again. However, by this time my swim was already shit.  But, I recovered and finished.

If it weren’t for a shitty swim, I would have placed…and that is the thing I am struggling to let go of. I KNOW I can swim that distance in a MUCH shorter time – that is what killed me and that is what I kept focusing on as I saw my name listed at eighth place in my division (I compete in the Athena division).

But, the other day, Carrie Cheadle, Mental Skills Coach, posted something on Facebook that kept creeping into my head, “Remember that it’s just as important to assess what you did RIGHT as well as what went wrong. Consistency and improvement comes when you get feedback from both sides.” OK. Those words didn’t run through my head, but the gist of it did, “focusing on the good is just as important as the bad.” So, here is what went right:

1. I recovered. I didn’t panic when I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I fixed it and kept swimming. I finished the swim.

2. I didn’t berate myself for having a bad swim. I wasn’t a loser or a horrible person because I had a bad swim. I just had a bad swim. (This one is HUGE for me.)

3. I conquered my first bay swim!

4. My transitions were pretty damn good…better than any transitions before.

5. I passed and was not passed on the bike. I rode my fastest and strongest ride.

6. Even though there was some discomfort from my recent ovarian dilemma, my run was really good. I ran the whole thing – I passed more people than passed me.

6. I finished strong and happy with how I did, even though my swim sucked. (See? Just can’t let that go.)

I have realized that while I say “I just want to finish” or anything of that nature, that isn’t really what I mean. Yes. It is important to just finish and there are things I will never place in (I am looking at you marathon), but I still want to do my best and when my perceived best doesn’t happen, I get so bogged down on what doesn’t go right. But, Carrie is right (don’t tell her I said that) I need to look at what did work and focus on that. Focusing on what is right is going to help me improve as an athlete just as much, if not more, than focusing on what didn’t go right.

Everyday. as an athlete, teacher, parent, friend and wife, I am faced with things that do and do not work; that do and do not go right, and everyday I am given the choice to focus on the negative or the positive.

After this weekend, my goal (my work as a person and an athlete) is to acknowledge what didn’t and what doesn’t work, and take that feedback and pair it with what did and what does work. I am just going to focus on the right stuff…that stuff that makes me a better person and a better athlete.

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