8 Weeks Out
I think I can speak for most of us when I say that we feel simultaneously the most alive and most content when we are actively pursuing goals. Every goal doesn’t have to be mind blowing or life changing, but they need to be intentional. Some days the most intentional goal of the day is to live in each moment. To feel all of the feels. Some days it is to shower and do a few dishes. Goals are goals.
I accomplished my mission at Ironman WI 70.3 in June of 2019. At that race I had sought out to place in the top five in my age group and finished fourth. I had allowed and accepted extreme discomfort during that race, instead of allowing my brain to trick me into holding back. I felt I had fully actualized my potential at that time, but I wanted to see if I had more.
After dabbling in some other ideas of what I should do for my next goal, I decided on what I would train to do. In the fall of 2019 I signed up for Ironman WI 70.3, ready to race in June of 2020. I put the goal in my mind and out there to trusted family and friends that this time I was going to race to win my age group. I then spent some time enjoying a break from my coach with some fun, unstructured training. I dialed in my focus and strong resolve at the end of December, 2019. I was ready for more.
Of course we all know what happened in early 2020. I kept training through our March-mid May quarantine, even after the race was postponed to September and I made the decision to defer to a new race. I turned 40 in May with a new resolve to crush Ironman North Carolina 70.3 in October. I trained. By July it was becoming very clear that Ironman races were most likely not happening around the world and so I took on a new challenge. I covered four race distances in one month, including a 70.3 simulation in my hometown. When North Carolina was cancelled I deferred my race entry to Chattanooga in May of 2021.
I took a break from my coach and structured training. And then I returned to the grind in mid-December of 2020. I quickly realized that I had changed. Not only from the enlightenments and burdens of the year, but in my priorities had shifted. While forced into difference circumstances, I had started to want new things, to try new and different goals.
And that brings me to eight weeks out from my current physical goal: To do the best I can at Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 on May 23, 2021.
My story is most certainly not a unique one for pandemic times. I am extremely thankful that I am able to make financial and time commitments to travel to race. I have learned a lot about gratitude, hope, letting go of control, allowing myself to feel disappointment and other negative emotions, and how to stay the course or pivot in order to honor my true self.
I have learned that I only have so much time and energy to give. That strength is not pushing through misery or in people pleasing. It is found in being able to search for, find, define, and go for what I really want— and to be unafraid to restructure priorities and goals. I have learned about the importance of doing this proactively out of self awareness, rather than reactively out of creating destructive self fulfilling prophesies.
And you can do this too.
When I decided to define this as more of a “B” priority goal, behind my work and my writing, I had to consider how I would still honor it in the most fulfilling way. I made the commitment to myself to live in the moment of each workout. To give my all to the intention of each training opportunity, whether it was to go easy or hard. I decided I would get up earlier to get my training in and make the investments to be able to consistently do so while still having energy for my work— go to bed early, be very mindful of drinking and eating habits, practice good sleep hygiene, journal, pray and meditate daily.
And now, I am excited to see what I can do when I give all that I have.
Eight weeks out… so, what does this mean for me right now? I am entering my highest volume of training. With my top personal goals being about work and writing and in the unique circumstances of this year, the investments are different. This time around it means more dark basement trainer rides in the early morning so I can have focused time to work while my kids are at school for limited hours. It means more intentional planning to have time to love and be there for my family and friends. It means setting and upholding boundaries in order to use my energy wisely. It means food prepping and sending my teens on (constant) grocery runs to try to keep the five of us nourished well.
I am aware that this race might be postponed as soon as I post this blog. But, I do not allow those thoughts to creep in while I am actively training. If that happens, I will allow myself to feel the disappointment, anger, sadness… whatever needs to be felt. And then I will pivot again. I will find the new goal. In the meantime, I train in gratitude and strength.
My hope is that when you read this you can apply these principles to any and all goals. Be aware, commit, live in the moment, remain hopeful and grateful. Find people who support you and share. Ask for help. Have strength through standing up for you and boldly going after your goals. Learn how to prioritize and when to be uncomfortable.
Make those daily micro goals. Make those BIG goals. And then you can be excited, focused, hopeful, nervous, grateful, and exhausted eight weeks out.
YOU can feel alive.