This weekend I head to Arizona to race (the final) 70.3 in Tempe. I have raced on this course twice before, and both were amazing experiences. In addition to race memories, it is also a location that is filled with endearing nostalgia surrounding family spring break trips with friends.
This time I feel ready. For real. I am taking all I learned from IMWI 70.3 last month, and doing all I can to have a more grounded, joy-filled experience. (Missed that reflection? I suggest you catch up here) Now, as most things go, my race in WI was not all “bad,” in fact, I would say it was mostly good. But, my hyper focus on pace/time, and how I would be perceived as an athlete on my home course, stole some of my typical joy of racing. Frankly, I don’t have the desire, or bandwidth, to have that happen again.
As you remember, (or just read), I was swamped with emotional baggage during that time in September. The short version is that Jamie opened his newest businesses the night before the race, after many stressful delays. At the same time, I was settling in to my new life as an empty nester/having three kids in college.
I have a lot of positives to lean into this race week. My physical body is in pretty great condition for racing. I am busy with coaching tasks, and launching my book, but I am not harried. I am figuring out a new rhythm of making sure I talk to, and/or see my kids as regularly as they’ll have me (which actually seems to be pretty often– if it involves food). I have been extremely supported by so many. I am grateful for all of this, and more.
I wish that all of this meant that I am heading to AZ with a fully clear mind, body, and spirit. Unfortunately, I have recently fallen into some default ways of thinking and expressing my loneliness, which has led to me picking unnecessary fights with Jamie as he is still consumed with the new venture. I also have a bit of a low-lying vulnerability hangover constantly with launching my book, and the relentless attention I have to bring to myself. I still miss my kids, but I think more than anything, I yearn for some kind of regular routine in my household.
I know that life is all both/and, and so I am okay acknowledging all of these existing, and some conflicting, emotions. But, even with this tornado that sometimes swirls or simmers inside of me, this time I go to race I am heading in with a clearer mission. I am going to stay more connected to myself and the experience— rather than pace and time. In fact, I might not even wear a watch (!!) I am still going to push my limits, but I am going to do so with grace and love, rather than with shame and frustration. I am going to be gentle with myself, rather than making an already hard thing harder.
I want to be clear— I am still racing. But, instead of dwelling on all of the ways I am falling short, I am going to focus on what I am, and can, do. Those very familiar thoughts of not being or doing enough will still likely creep in, but after I let them be heard I will be choosing to replace them with those that serve my experience better. I am going to keep trying to follow through on being an example of what I instruct my athletes to do, and share with all of you.
It will still be hard. I will have opportunities to learn (some may call them failures ;)). I will end up in a very exhausted, sweaty, salty heap in the AZ dry (and likely hot AF) air. But, I hope when I finish I will do so feeling fulfilled in the journey.
I love this about endurance sports. These races provide opportunities for me to check in with any progress, or backslides, in my journey to understanding myself better (in all the ways— including the ugly fight picker). And no matter if this is simply half Ironman #23, or my last one ever, I know it is happening at exactly the right time.
You know I will have the lessons for you soon, but I hope this one ends in a smile.