I had a phone chat with Dirk after Boulder 70.3 and boy has it set me on a different path in the last 10 days or so. It was really good to talk to him. Apparently someone told him “Sonja had a good race” and he said “No she didn’t.” This still makes me roll on the floor laughing. I really like how candid Dirk is. It’s really nice to have someone that knows you be straight with you. He doesn’t take these things personally, he knows tri-life ebbs and flows. He takes more of a “do the work and someday you will have the race of your life” approach. It’s honest, and realistic.
So I talked with him a bit about where my head has been this year. I kinda feel bad for him, because I haven’t been the most steady this year. We talked about a few things and I told him “I just want to be good this year.” I said it a few times. This whole year I have just had this feeling in me that “I want to be good, I want to be competitive.” And in the most forward way, he told me “Don’t.” Literally, he said it like that, “Don’t do that to yourself Sonja, don’t put that pressure on yourself.” The way he said it in that matter of fact way, in his German accent, was probably the biggest turning point of my season thus far.
I seem to have this innate ability to put my nose down and push stubbornly ahead even when things seem like they are harder than they need to be. Then someone will tap me on the shoulder and say “Ummm, your bareling through shoulder deep scratchy bushes when the path is just right here.” Then and only then do I look up and realize, a couple steps in a different direction is all that’s needed to ease my struggle.
He talked about what happens when amateurs have a ton of fun and they have a great year. They have these great results, and it was a blast, and they turn pro. That next year there is all this pressure, they put it on themselves because honestly, at the young pro level it’s rarely a sponsor pressure, and most young pros make their money elsewhere. So it’s this internal pressure to “be better” and it doesn’t make them better…it usually keeps them equal, or makes them worse.
Dirk said “Don’t do that.” Just like that.
I went to bed that night and could barely sleep. I sat there and thought about my roots, where I came from, my background. I’m not a child athlete. I’m not a college star. I didn’t swim for Stanford (go Katy) or run at a D1 school. I ran 2 years for a D3 where I “flunked” out of college running by simply not being able to keep up. I had an okay “engine” and “genetics” but it wasn’t anything to write home about. Realizing those things in college I turned to fun. I rock climbed a lot, I got into winter mountaineering with my dad, I climbed 14ers here in Colorado, went backpacking. I did what was fun because if I’m genetically predisposed to anything it’s “having fun while exercising.”
I laid in bed realizing that as I travel through the tri-ranks my progression will not be that of the D1 college swimmer or runner. I’m not that girl that will launch into the sport and boom after a few races turn PRO. I’m what the amateur ranks were made for. I’m THAT girl.
And realizing that, and with Dirks help, and at about midnight, which made me wake up and email Michelle frantically and with a lot of Fbombs….I had this super stupidly simple ah-hah.
I just gotta work towards being my best me. Both emotionally and physically.
I can’t chase the clock…figured that out in Cozumel…courses aren’t totally accurate and crazy stuff happens (St.G, IMNY). Don’t chase the clock, that opponent is a fickle gremlin.
I can’t chase the people. Every year in the 30-34 AG a ton of fast ladies turn pro (awesome), and every year, they are replaced with a new set of faster ones (doh). Don’t chase the people…some of them are genetically above you, and some of them are training harder than you (yes hard to believe…). Instead…make friends, because they are some of the most fantastic women, and they love what you do!
So working on my best ME has been the main focus the last 10 days and will continue going forward. Also, I want to be the kind of person that makes people around them better. That’s in my blood and I want to indulge that side of me more often. I think helping others find their better self keeps me inspired and motivated to work towards my own best self. I cherish the time I spend training with and coaching others. It’s a unique opportunity to help others become stronger healthier people. Now to make sure I am extending that to myself, that’s where I’m headed.
A huge congratulations to my athlete Emily on completing the Leadville 100 mile run yesterday and getting her belt buckle! Also, I want to congratulate Danielle and Baker for both entering the 10 hour Ironman club. I’m such a proud coach these days as I watch my athletes cash in their hard work with excellent Ironman performances and well executed races.