I have now had a couple more weeks to digest and reflect on my race in Texas. More time to consider the result after the growing anticipation and expectations of the goal for years.
More time to feel through the disappointment, consider the lessons learned, and decide how I want to execute my training, travel, and race day for the next 70.3 in Arizona.
Time to ask myself “Is this all worth it”?
A few days before leaving for Texas I had a wonderful conversation with my runner neighbors. They are two of many athletes on our street in suburban Wisconsin. Amongst many other topics we talked about my upcoming race. I enjoy their company very much and smiled with gratitude as I walked away. I didn’t think much more about that conversation until several days post race. I recalled Jake talking about how he doesn’t feel like racing much anymore- he likes to train but does’t want to put all of his effort toward just one day. I applaud him for deciding what works best for him. And I became inspired to consider if I also am done putting all of “my eggs in one basket.”
After a failed goal and what felt like a million nonstop obstacles, is it worth it for me?
Racing a half iron is exhausting. And the hurdles didn’t stop presenting themselves at the end of the race. Some were out of my control and some were very much put up by me. And as they kept popping up I felt like I was more and more incapable of jumping over them. I felt heavier and heavier. And I didn’t handle it well.
After several meltdowns and my husband demanding that I stop being snarky and mean, I realized I was not following my own path of authentic living. In an effort to not actually feel the full weight of my letdown and disappointment over my failed race goal, I had tried to move very quickly past it— and in just hours post race I entered the realm of toxic positivity.
Toxic positivity is the belief that no matter how dire or difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. It’s a “good vibes only” approach to life.
I wanted to only feel good vibes while having some alone time with my husband in Texas. I needed to find a way to hold it together as we experienced many travel issues coming home and for the days after (finally receiving my bike and our luggage one week after our return home!) But, while I value a positive mindset, I wholly believe and preach against toxic positivity. I aim to live an honest, full, and real life. I intellectually know this involves a lot of negative emotion. I sincerely aim to connect to my body, allowing myself to feel negative and positive feelings.
So, how did I stop practicing what I preach?
I am human. And when not operating with a focused mind and aware heart we all have our go-to defense against feeling negative emotion. Some buffer with alcohol, food, phone use, or busyness. Others prefer to blame others, becoming the victim. My default buffer is to quickly put on the rose colored glasses in an effort to not feel the pain and hurt that comes with negativity.
I am blessed! I am thankful! I am going to learn so much from this failure!
After my race in Texas that pain was in the form of disappointment. I only allowed myself to feel it for a very short time, quickly moving into focusing on gratitude and lessons learned. While I see this as a positive practice for growth, I also know the vital importance of fully feeling through the negative emotion.
My pre-race strategy was derailed and my post-race recovery pretty much sucked. Poor sleep, no food for hours, long travel that resulted with an unexpected overnight in Minneapolis, and luggage missing for almost a week. And upon our return life didn’t halt to give me second to breathe. I am a mom and have a job. I kept trying to smile and be positive. To push my real feelings to the back of my mind in order to give the best version of me. Guess what? This didn’t work for long. It took four days of fighting it and having it come out sideways for it to basically take me down. I cried. I let myself fully feel it. AND THEN GUESS WHAT? I felt much better. I felt honest. I learned that my husband and friends still love me. They love the real me.
So, is all of this worth it? For me- ABSOLUTELY. I need to learn these lessons so that I can stop acting selfishly when I can’t pretend that “everything is awesome” anymore. I need to trust myself, my family, and my friends to honor my real feelings and that they will give me the space to feel through them in kindness and compassion. I need to feel so that I can look at my efforts, goals, joys, and failures with honesty.
I know need to be faced with the challenges in order to grow. I don’t want to strive for easy or comfortable. I want to feel it all. And for now, I still want to use racing triathlon at a high level as part of my journey.
The chance of pain is worth it. Disappointment. Failure. Hurt. It is all part of a real and full life. And it makes the joy feel that much more real too.
Don’t be afraid and strive for easy. Be bold. Be brave. Make those big goals.