This week’s blog was supposed to be “Anatomy of a Goal: Part II (4 weeks out).” But…on Friday we found out that Oregon High School will have an outdoor prom (YAY!). And the date is the night before my planned 70.3 in Chattanooga (BOO!). I have one daughter, she is a senior, and the pandemic took away many of her high school opportunities and rites of passage. I want to be there for her prom. I had to make a decision and big pivot in about 24 hours. So, I will be headed to Des Moines in June.

Luckily, I always have new inspirations for topics. This week you get to read about some real time humanness. 

Many of you know some version of me. Some of you have got to know the current me more through the words of my blog. Some of my athletes, close friends, old friends, new friends, and acquaintances are loyal readers. My aunts, cousins, mother-in-law, brothers, and sister-in-laws also tune in often. My husband and mom read weekly. 

Some of you know who I am now, some of you knew me years ago. Some of you don’t know me personally at all.

Those of you who know or have known me also know that I have had and will always have flaws. Depending on which stage of life you knew me best, these flaws could be how you remember me. Many of you know that I have worked hard on personal growth and have seen my evolution first hand. You know it didn’t happen accidentally.

I hope all of you know that my message is to authentically and humbly reach you with encouragement and inspiration through my willingness to share my stories and by many lessons learned and by the ones I am continuing to learn. To share more love by encouraging all of us to live more authentically. 

You all know that I am absolutely just as human as anyone.  I have gathered tools to accept and own my humanness in order to be the most real version of me. 

I have flaws, but now I refuse to be defined by them. 

I make mistakes, but now I hope that it can be brought to my attention so that I can apologize and there can be understanding and ultimately forgiveness

I am hard on myself and can be on others, but now I don’t need or want to be “right”. I try to treat us all with grace

I often make daily and weekly decisions that don’t honor me best. But, now I know that I can learn from it. 

I know I am worthy of learning and growing to live my best life. And I know you are too. 

I can have some yucky, sabotaging, terrible thoughts that don’t serve me on any level. BUT, I have practiced how to consider them and to replace them with what I sincerely believe to be truth. Not always. And especially not always immediately. Often after a fair amount of self induced suffering. 

Recently, I had a bike FTP (Functional Threshold Power) test. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, this test is an easy warm-up plus 20 minutes of your best effort possible on a bike. It is as hard as it sounds— 20 minutes of absolutely exhausting, teeth gritting (or smiling if you remember to ;), all in effort. 

I was ready to perform well. I wanted to show up and crush it. But, those sabotaging thoughts started creeping in the morning of the test. 

Thought: “Are you really ready for this?” 

Me: “Huh? Yes. I think…” 

Me, deliberately followed up with, “YES. I am ready. It will hurt, but I can do hard things.”

I went downstairs on got on my bike. After the warm-up I started the test. 

And if you ever doubted if I had to wrestle with negative thoughts, or if you just wanted a snapshot into my brain in real time… here you go: 

One minute in: “I don’t want to do this. (Check heart rate) My heart rate is really high already.”

Three minutes: “This isn’t too bad. I can hold this power.”

Five minutes: “Shift down. You need to go easier or you’ll never finish this.”

Six minutes: “Shift back up. This is not the time to be comfortable.” 

Seven to nine minutes: “This is awful. I think my chest hurts. Am I sick? Having a heart attack? Maybe I can just get to ten minutes and have her (my coach) multiply it by two.” (Checks heart rate 25 times in 2 minutes)

Ten minutes: “It’s okay. Last half. WAIT! I have to do that long AGAIN?!”

Eleven minutes: “Settle in with the pain. And stare at that spot on the rug…now the spot on the couch…. How much longer?”

Twelve to Fifteen: Either blacked out or just zoned out, but I have no idea what I was thinking. But I kept pedaling. Hard.

Fifteen-End: “One minute at a time. Get your goal. It matters to you.”

And at the end, after achieving my best test ever, I yelled, “YES!” And then enjoyed a nice and easy cool down. These most certainly were not all of my thoughts, but I was acutely aware of each one and allowed myself to acknowledge them. I listened to their voice and then dismissed them when they didn’t propel me forward. I tried to replace them with positive ones. And sometimes I just tried to smile. I know there is a demanding part of my brain that wants what it thinks is the “best” for me. And an FTP test is most certainly not it. But in other parts of my brain I know better. 

I didn’t give up, physically or mentally. 

I spent the day feeling alive, excited and accomplished. I gained confidence going into my upcoming race. All of that was absolutely worth the 20 minutes of discomfort. And if I would have given up, I wouldn’t know that. 

I am human. I face obstacles and hurdles every day. Although due to my gender, sexuality, and location I am privileged for them to not be as scary or serious as those of many others. I do not aim to always be in a positive, comfortable, or easy mindset, but instead in a real one. I am aware enough to be willing to learn from heartbreak and failures, and that can make seemingly negative things positives for me. I do not make myself unnecessarily a victim of others or circumstances. I own my power.

You can live a real life too. Accept where you are and aim to grow, not change. Start with living in your moment and experiencing the realness of being fully alive. Even if it means very uncomfortably staring at a pattern in the rug for a few minutes. 

Whatever it takes. We are all human and we all can grow on our terms.