“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” ~Orson Welles
I started this tri season with a single statement, “This is going to be my last triathlon.” I had good reasons for this. It is time consuming. I am not very good at racing “for fun.” I tend to get obsessive and want to do it as well as I possibly can. The time I need to train takes a toll on my family as well. And it’s expensive. Lots of people heard me say that I was quitting, and Wednesday night, on my last ride, I was thinking about this.
It all started with the realization that Sunday will be my last run for a while, maybe for a long while if I need surgery. And if I’m not doing any more triathlons, maybe I never have to run again. That gave me pause. It’s good that it was an easy ride and there was no traffic because I started to cry.
If you know me AT ALL, you know I have a “Love-Hate” relationship with running. Man, when it is good, it’s the best thing ever. No other training gives me the endorphin rush and the feeling of accomplishment that running does. But when it’s bad, it is just awful, and the good times are not all that common. This season has been just about all bad.
So I’m crying and riding, and to be fair, most people have never seen me cry, so this is like some kind of crazy, and I’m thinking what the heck is wrong with me? It is in this moment that I am facing some unpleasant truths. I have not been able to train the way I wanted to. I could not run enough, and I know I am not as fit as I have been in other years. I was not able to do the preparations I know I should do. And my knee is not right. I am racing, but I know it’s not right. By my standards, my personal criteria, I am not 100%. I’m not ready.
This is upsetting, but in a moment I realize why I’m really upset… I know I’m not ready, but I never feel ready. I’m upset because this is not how I want it to end. I don’t want to finish my triathlon career limping and walking. I don’t want this race to be my last memory.
Practically blinded, I realize I better pull myself together and get off the pity train before I crash. And practical, problem-solving Deb steps up to the plate as asks, “Whatcha gonna do about it, girl?”
So what can I do about it? Oh, wait, I have options!
· I can choose not to race. I’ll let last year’s race be my final race. It was good. I had fun. But wait… I want to race. I really, really want to race Sunday.
· I can accept that this race may be terrible, but that’s how my career will end. I can do the best that I can on Sunday and no matter what happens, be done, because that was the plan all along, and I’m sticking to it.
Hmm… I find that deeply disheartening.
· Or I can simply choose not to quit. What if this isn’t my last race? What if this is just a bump in a road that somehow keeps going. What if I rehab my leg and fight my way back to running and come back and do this again? Because I can. Because I want to. Because I don’t want to quit.
And that’s when I stopped crying.
So you’re thinking, what a ridiculous story. How can this be what Deb wants to tell us only a few days before the race? But you see, it is exactly what I want to tell you. Because whether this is your first race or your 10th, you have concerns. There are things you wish you would have done differently. We all have “should have” moments. I should have run further, eaten better, trained harder, slept more. My personal “should have?” I should have rehabbed my damn hamstring in January. But I didn’t, and that decision caused a whole bunch of things to happen that makes me feel “not ready.”
Here’s an essential truth: “You’re never completely ready. It just becomes your turn.”
It’s your turn. It’s your turn to fulfill your dreams. It’s your turn to forget the past. It’s your turn to be in this incredible moment. As Christine says over and over, it’s your turn to “enjoy the journey.”
You cannot change the past, not even a little. I’m asking you to stop looking there, to lift your head from what you did and think about what you will do. You will race on Sunday. You will finish. And when you do, you will not be the same woman that started the race. You will know things about yourself, things that will make you proud. You will stand taller, feel stronger, and be more self-aware of your own courage and abilities than you have been in a very long time. You will see yourself and each other as I do. I do not see all of your fear and insecurity, your too much and not enough. When I look into your eyes, I see nothing but courage and strength, this incredibly beautiful moment when you realize how amazing you are.
I wish you a wonderful day. May you find strength in your family and friends who cheer you to the finish, power in the triBE of women, friends and strangers, united in common purpose, and courage in the lion heart you carry inside you.
Safe journey my friends, Sunday and always. Wind at your back.