Stars

This last Saturday…well yesterday, I helped Erich during the Leadville 100 by pacing him from mile 50 to 72.5. Some might ask what pacing is? In fact, when I joined Erich at mile 50, this being his first 100 miler, he was like “I’ve never had a pacer, I don’t know what I need”. Hahah! Luckily I have done a 100 miler (4+ years ago…sad) and paced (2 years ago…Emily at Leadville…happy), so you know, I’m an expert (not). According to me, a pacer is just someone who runs with you during the hard parts, keeps you eating, drinking, moving, and mildly entertained. They are just a “more” sane person along for the ride and usually trot along beside or behind you. When I did Moab 100, they were my saviors. Michelle, Tony, and Keith still have a special place in my heart from that one day.

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Running along with Erich, he was doing very well. He is somewhat of a glutton for punishment and I asked him at one point why he was doing this race. He said that he searched out all the hardest endurance races in the world, made a list, and is going about doing them. What a man after my own heart. So he had done the Leadville 100 mountain bike the weekend before, and here he was pumping through the run. To ease your suspense, Erich simply gained steam through the race  (in comparison to others), although his speech did get more and more slurred and quieter, and he busted a major move going 23:23 and earning the coveted sub 25 hour buckle…by a long shot. At one point around mile 60 he asked me if I thought it was possible for him to go under 25, and I was like “Heck yea”. He did more than just that and his performance inspired me.

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So, I got to run 22 miles out in the woods. Okay “ran” is glorifying it a bit because at least half of it was power hiking, but all the same…I moved along the trail for 22 miles with him. It’s really rare these days that I get to do this and the only reason is that Erich is coached by Muddy and the guy needed pacers! Huge thanks to Mikki as well for pacing him for 14 miles after my 22.5 miles were up. Mikki is really one of the most selfless people I know and she’s always happy to run all night in the woods with a complete stranger who’s already run 72+ miles that day.

We ran along rather quiet for some long stretches of time…quiet for me, since I usually won’t shut up, and I got to tune out a lot of the distractions of life. When you are in the woods there is a lot of air. It’s clean air and smells like pine and there are no cars, and not many people, and it’s peaceful, and the colors are easy on your eyes. During trail running you mostly focus on where the heck you are putting your feet and it’s a hard enough task to keep your brain busy, but mindless enough to cut out most all judgement, or nervous thoughts. It’s easy on the brain, meditative, rejuvenating. I needed this. I’ve had a really tough last few weeks and I’ve been searching for that sense of calm and peace and just couldn’t locate it. My compass has been really off.

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Out there in the woods I felt like I got my ducks back in a row and Mikki and I talked the whole ride home about it. Granted it was 2am and we were pretty loopy, but sometimes those are the best conversations.

What is it about some days in our life? This was my ahh-hah. Most the days of our life, they just go. Poof, gone, no memory. We go through the motions just grinding through. Maybe we do it peacefully or calmly, but they still leave almost no mark. Then there are some days in our life, yesterday was one of those for Erich, that you will never ever forget. It’s just one day, just like the rest, 24 hours, just like the rest, but you will tell stories about it, you will savor it, and live it over and over for the rest of your time on the planet.

I think that most people don’t have a lot of these days. They are few, the marriages, the birth of children, some of the devastating days. But those days, when you do get them, they are the first sentences of the chapters of your life. That opening line. When I look back at my life that’s what these days are for me. With them came new awareness, about myself, about my journey, about my purpose. They foreshadow where I was headed. They are hardly EVER destinations, but more new beginnings of a new way of thinking and living.

Recently my chapters have been long. The highlight days have been more few and far between. The chapters are more developed, but they are long, and sometimes not heading the direction I hoped.

Getting out there on the trails yesterday reminded me that these big important days were always why I seek endurance sports. These experiences, however hard and brutal they may be have been the stars in my constellation, the highlights that form the picture. So to get off my lazy butt, I used this website to find hiking boots and went off on an adventure.

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And out there I realized that I want more stars, and I want a more detailed picture. I want to get back to my roots, and I really don’t like how sore I am today from my little jaunt in the woods yesterday. It was like a wake up call out there, a reminder of where my heart lies. Not just in ultra running, but training for and executing some hard gnarly days, record book days, stars in my constellation. And when I think about it that way, it’s easy to see the muck. It’s easy to see the times when I’ve gotten off base, and now I understand why those things have caused me so much angst.

Right now I’m training for Hawaii, my 5th in a row, and for 5 years it’s been my North Star, the dominant star in my galaxy, the one that everything else revolves around. But very clearly I knew out there on those trails yesterday that Hawaii will not be my North Star for much longer. Where am I headed exactly? Well, Kona for now. But then, somewhere neat and cool and different and fun. Towards other stars to enhance the constellation of my life.

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Selfish, such a dirty word.

“It’s time to be selfish”

Ahhhhhh, these words. It’s the 14 week to go mark and I’ve heard these words, spoken these words, read these words. And yet, I cringe every time. I hate these words. As someone to holds very dear to her heart the value of compassion, hearing “it’s time to be selfish” is like nails screeching down a chalkboard, especially when you are told that it’s the only way to really be successful. Bah! I disagree.

self·ish

adjective (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

It’s a dirty word, a FOUR-letter word in my book (okay, it’s 7, but still, might as well be 4).

“Lacking consideration for others”

Let’s get real. Sometimes we all lack consideration for others.

When we are in a rush…we lack consideration

When we are stressed…we lack consideration

When we woke up on the wrong side of the bed…we lack consideration.

But when it comes down to it, most of us are VERY considerate of those we love and care about. We care deeply for the mental well being of our children, our husbands, and our close friends. Sometimes it’s not on the forefront of our mind because we are preoccupied, but consideration we do have, especially when it’s needed. Now, consideration, THE ACTION…that’s a different story. Some of us are better at turning the consideration in our heart into consideration the action better than others. We are all a work in progress. So is it selfish to have consideration in our hearts but not be able to turn it into consideration the action? Or do we get a “selfish pass” because our intentions are good? What counts? Consideration the feeling or consideration the action? The definition in webster doesn’t really say…

I got a little wordy there, but the point is, training for something with all your heart, has very little to do with the consideration you hold in your heart, or the consideration you show in your actions. Saying that it’s “time to get selfish” when it comes to training for a big event (olympics, Kona, your first ironman, your first 5k, bikini competition, anything that really means a lot to you) really has nothing to do with changing your love, consideration, empathy, or compassion for those you love.

On the flip side, you can be training for absolutely nothing and still lack consideration for those around you (the feeling or the action).

What about the other part? “Concerned chiefly with ones’ personal profit or pleasure”

I read this like 9 times and every time I kept coming back to “wait, aren’t we all?” (was that a bad sign?) Is the antidote for this to be concerned chiefly with OTHER PEOPLES profit or pleasure? Sounds like being a mom to a newborn. You have no choice but to be concerned chiefly with that tiny bundle and it’s profit or pleasure. But then again, you have been tasked to keep said helpless human ALIVE. Let me tell you. Those were the most emotionally and physically unhealthy days of my life. But I couldn’t be called selfish, so there’s that…

As we moms learn very quickly after having a newborn, you can only last a very short period of time if you refuse to take care of yourself. You gotta put your air mask on first before assisting a child. Now, “personal profit and pleasure” are a far cry from “survival” but when I read that line over and over I kept thinking, I think the real definition of selfish is to be concerned with your personal profit or pleasure over the SURVIVAL of something you love. But is it still selfish to be concerned with your personal profit and pleasure over the personal profit and pleasure of others, even the ones you love? So if survival is a guarantee for everyone in your “concerned” circle, then shouldn’t the next task be to start concerning yourself with pleasure and profit? And why is starting with your own instead of others a selfish thing? Nobody is dying here, everyone is just trying to have fun.

I say it’s not. I think that training for a big event (insert: olympics, Kona, your first ironman, your first 5k, bikini competition, anything that really means a lot to you), requires tradeoffs and choices, but none of those really have anything to do with the word selfish. Very few people decide to give up the compassion in their heart and put their training over the essential survival needs of the people whom they love and care for. It’s just a very rare occurrence in my mind. Things like meth, and heroin are usually to blame in instances like this, not (insert large event here).

I’m done with this word as an easy metaphor for the choices and decisions that are made in good conscience to put much of my daily rituals aside to try to be an elite athlete for a short period of time. I have lost zero consideration for the needs of my daughter, husband, extended family, and close friends. Their survival is paramount and if that was ever at risk the tickets to Hawaii would be refunded in a heartbeat. The negativity and judgement that the word selfish brings along with it has no place in the hearts and minds of most people making choices to spend their free time swimming, biking, running, lifting, kayaking, studying for the bar, building a large company (you name it…killing it and dragging it home) and trying to kick ass along the way.

Where’s the Wisdom?

I’ve been reading Arianna Huffingtons book Thrive at the recommendation of Katie and the recent stuff I read about WISDOM really got me thinking about it’s application to triathlon. Life, triathlon… that’s me, always trying to draw some parallels.

“To know that you know, and to know that you don’t know – that is real wisdom.”

– Confucious

I love reading about and looking back at the lives of our founding “rock stars” in the sport. Dave and Mark totally intrigue me, and I love any time that Wendy Ingram will let me chat her up. My coach Muddy has been around all through the years, a true fixture in the sport, and when I think about wisdom in the sport I think about him. He has a really strong sense of “this is what we need to do” and I’m not sure he can even explain it. His intuition is very strong when it comes to coaching. He doesn’t like power, or heart rate and he always wants me to ditch it out the window.

In the sport today we are bombarded with information. I’m constantly amazed at the sheer volume of articles and blog posts and podcasts that are being published today. I could spend 30+ hours a week easily reading and listening to keep up with the information that is being published. Advise on nutrition, training, tapering, gear choices, choosing a coach, how to be happy, what attributes great athletes share, these are just the beginning. Heck, I just glanced through the last 4 hours on my Facebook wall, here is what I encountered:

What happened to the days where the only info we got were some well written articles in the tri magazines, and some well thought out books on training? We are in a time of information overload, most of it delivered with a snappy headline, and a dose of shock value. Much of it is written to light up the spots in our brain that feel shame, inadequacy, or incompetence. And as I’ve seen in the food world, it leads to paralysis. Bread or no bread, honey or no honey, power or no power, HR monitor or no HR monitor?

When you are starting anything new OR when you are frustrated and trying to make gains most of us flock to information, we think we need more knowledge, and sometimes this is true. But in the current world filled with knowledge it’s become “cheep”. What I’m finding in the sport is that the hot commodity, the rare commodity, is WISDOM, and those with a deep sense of INTUITION.

“information…does not equal knowledge, and knowledge does not equal understanding, and understanding does not equal wisdom”

–Nancy Koehn (Quoted from Arianna Huffingtons book Thrive)

So what is Wisdom? The first thing that comes to my mind is age, old people have wisdom (sorry coach). It’s more than smart, it’s also street smart. Knowing what to do in certain situations, knowing the right way to progress forward, being able to walk around the pitfalls that those who lack wisdom fall into.

WISDOM

  • the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.
  • knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life.
  • knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

Knowledge is very much part of Wisdom, but the bigger nugget is experience. I think that the Dave and Mark triathletes of the past were 90% experience, 10% knowledge, and I think that’s flip flopped today. People are much more likely to go read, or seek advice and knowledge from others over getting outside and testing/trying new things to gain experience. There is something I love about how the first guys and gals in the sport were rewarded for their experience, and I think many of them are the wise coaches of today.

The quest for knowledge may be pursued at higher speeds with smarter tools today, but wisdom is found no more readily than it was three thousand years ago in the court of King Solomom.

—Arianna Huffington

The farther along I get into my triathlon days the more and more I am leaving the book knowledge behind. Yes, I burn 745 calories per hour at an Ironman race pace, and I consume 215 calories an hour from nutrition. My metabolic efficiency is about 54%/46% glycogen to fat. That’s the book knowledge. But the bigger voice is from my wisdom. I’ve ridden an average of 1000 miles a month, I know when I eat a bar every 45-60 minutes I’m good. I know when I drink about a bottle an hour I’m good. When I feel bad, I know what that is and I eat or drink or slow down to fix it. I didn’t read that (well I probably did at one point) I just figured it out because it’s what works over time. I failed a few times and got smarter each time I did. When I got stuck and I couldn’t figure it out on my own, which was pretty rare, I did some research.

But sometimes I find myself getting sucked into the information world. It’s on the twitter, in the Facebook, and it’s easy to sit on the couch and read rather than get out on my bike and fail, and learn from failing. That’s developing experience, and that leads to wisdom.

Ours is a generation bloated with information, and starved for wisdom.

–Arianna Huffington

In this last race in Boise, I had a cool experience. It was one of the first times racing that I relied much more heavily on my intuition. On the bike I reset my watch at mile 50, shoved it in my bra, put my head down, and listened to my gut instincts on how hard to ride. When I got out running I was running faster than Muddy and I had planned and my intuition took over. It said “this is great, your body feels exactly as it should, this is the same feeling you have when you run well” I knew in my gut I could hold onto the effort, and how did I know? Experience….which lead to wisdom….which lead to intuition.

Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.

– Jimi Hendrix

Does it mean I’m dropping all the gadgets like Muddy wants? Well, slowly some things are getting phased out as I learn to become less dependent on them. I think the athlete (and the coach as well) have many short term goals on the road to progress but one of the big questions I am asking of myself and I am asking about my athletes is “Where do I/you suck?” It sounds harsh, but you have to make decisions in this sport based on the answer. Do you suck at pacing? Get a HR monitor and a power meter and learn how to use them (experiment, you’ll figure it out). Have you nailed your execution on your last 5 races but fail to step out of your safe box? Ditch the gadgets, and take some risks. Think about where you suck, and move forward with equal amounts of knowledge and experimentation. As we master different things in the sport, our “where do you suck” answer changes. Mine is changing, and with the help of Muddy, we are adapting and growing based on those changes. I’m thankful both for his wisdom, and his dedication to helping me develop my own wisdom.

Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.

Hermann Hesse

Healthy Comparison

Okay, so it’s not news to you that I really got a lot out of the two Brene Brown books that I read over the last few months (Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection). They are really eye opening books, or at least they were for me. So when I saw that Brene was doing Part 2 of a “Gifts of Imperfection Online Class” through the Oprah network I decided, heck why not? I like all the self introspection stuff, understanding myself helps me understand my athletes, and working on my own self acceptance helps me to be in a clearer place when interacting with others. But that’s not why I do it, really it’s because I want to be my best for me. I want to be healthy inside and out. It’s a major need of mine. So I took the leap.

Week 1 was about being creative, and embracing our inner creativity and it was a great week of ah-hahs and learning for me. I loved it. One of the major cornerstones of the week was “Don’t compare.” I could really grasp this while doing art. I get it, do your own thing, it’s your own creativity, you don’t need to compare what your art looks like in regards to what others do. Got it, check, okay.

Week 2 was about embracing rest and play, and that one was much needed and something I am really struggling with sorting out in practice. In theory I’ve got it nailed, in practice I’m like a baby deer just beginning to walk. I have this idea that rest is “recovery” and is just another thing I need to nail in order to be the best athlete I can be. Let’s not even talk about rest from resting, as in, rest does not just look like a set of Normatec boots, it’s also about crafts, and playing on the floor with Annie, and cooking classes, and margaritas with friends. Total work in progress for me.

Brene held a live webcast, that I missed due to upchucking in the bathroom, but I watched the playback. It was all going well and I was nodding and taking notes and then she got to her last viewer question and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The last question was:

“Is there such a thing as healthy comparison?”

Ummm, wow. I’m sitting there, and I’m a girl who literally spends most of her days preparing myself to compete with others on the playing field of triathlon. I was SO interested in her answer, and she went directly to the issue of competition. And this is from someone I deeply respect, but I know she doesn’t do sports, so would she even “get it”?

Here’s what she said.

Competition is healthy when it’s about doing your internal best, when it comes from a place of play and fun, when it’s about learning from others and inspiring each other.

Competition is not healthy when it’s about rank ordering, putting yourself in place compared to others, trying to figure out what your worth is, how you stack up against folks, and when you are “attaching value” and “better than.”

Yup, that stuck with me, in fact I was like YES THAT….THAT IS IT! I have read SO many mental training books throughout the years and every single one of them comes back to controlling what you can control, not worrying about what others do, and trying to get the best out of yourself. It’s almost cliche at this point and yet every one of my athletes including myself struggles with it at times. I just posted an entire article about comparison on the goSonja athlete page and 4 of my athletes emailed me that same day asking “Did you post that just for me?” I find this funny because I had very little trouble letting go of comparison with my art and creativity, but it’s a constant work in progress to let go of comparison when it comes to triathlon.

I really got thinking about this and a few things came up. One was I started thinking about my first coach, Steve. He really set the foundation for who I am as an athlete and I went through a lot of those new athlete experiences with him. Things like my first disappointing races (where I wanted to leave and go cry). I remember him having a talk with me that essentially said “Chin up, go celebrate others success, because they celebrate yours when you do well.” He always pushed me to be humble.

I remember one time when the timing results messed up and they called someone else as having won a race that I won. The girl they called wasn’t even there because I don’t think she was even close to wining or maybe hadn’t even been in the race, it was a total mistake, and they called me as second, and I wanted to go up and correct them and he said “absolutely not.” Go take your second place and smile about it. I did and the results eventually got sorted out, but he wanted me to learn that lesson.

The first time I tackled a 70.3 distance race was at Rage in the Sage and I was the first woman across the line. I remember him telling me that a close friend had said to him “It’s not like she won Clearwater”. He told me that because he thought I was a little too excited about the win. I did get a huge magnum of wine…but there were also 27 women in the long course race. That was how I was raised in the sport. Be humble, don’t show disappointment, support others.

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So I always had that underpinning. And I think with Steve, it was a case of “the ends justify the means.” I was pushed to respond a certain way, but it took me a long time and a lot of reading and self introspection to come to the means. But getting to the means was a pretty awesome journey.

What Brene said up there that I wrote is the “means”.

You can act humble, or you can be humble.

You can act outwardly like you aren’t comparing your results to others, or you actually not compare yourself to others.

One is an outward action, the other is an internal decision.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the acting is really important. I believe in life that if we want to work on a skill, we must create a practice around that skill. If we want to be better at running, you must begin a running practice, if you want to feel better about yourself, you must start a practice of self love. For years I was “practicing” at not comparing. As with any practice, sometimes you succeed (and you go running today), and sometimes you don’t (and you watch movies and eat popcorn). A practice is just that, not 100% and riddled with hiccups along the way. They are all like that.

So for a long time I practiced being humble (sometimes successfully and sometimes not) and I focused on what I could control (sometimes successfully, and sometimes not), and not comparing (sometimes successfully and sometimes not), and that’s been a joy. I think without that practice I wouldn’t have gotten to the ah-hah.

The ah-hah for me is that comparison in competition is not healthy. Bottom line, I know this in my core of being. It’s pretty simple, and pretty black and white. And I must say that when it comes from the core, the action, and the practice come much more easily, they are more natural, it’s an easier response to act from that place.

I will share one last story. This past year I was ranked the #1 athlete in my Age Group in the USAT rankings. I was also ranked #1 in the Ironman All World rankings. This garnered me the fancy gold luggage tag that came in the mail, and my photo in the USAT magazine. In the beginning years I looked at those USAT rankings and I so wanted to be up there. I remember when Mary Miller was number 1 and I was like “wow, I wonder if I will ever be that good.” A few years in, and after some distasteful run ins with USAT I quit giving a hoot about the rankings, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. This year with the new Ironman All World rankings I found that every time someone talked about their own rankings on FB I would go to the page and see where I fell in, and that action felt very unhealthy for me. It never left me feeling like I was in a good place, even when I was on the top. It constantly left me with a lot of feelings of shame, I felt that the lady that won Kona should be on top, not me, I explained it away as it just being the girl who raced the most, not the girl who was the best. It acted more as a reminder of where I came up short than where I excelled (and let me tell you, just typing all that is some honest shit going down and not easy to write in a public place). When the luggage tag came in the mail last week I was unsure what to do with it, and the little bike sticker that came along with it. I kept coming back to “who does this serve, who does this help” and the answer to me was “nobody in a healthy way.” So I ride by you in a race with my fancy gold sticker on my bike. How does that help you? How does that help me? It doesn’t. But I didn’t know why I was shunning these rankings that I knew 7 years ago I could only have dreamed about. When Brene said what I posted above it really gave me words to explain how I felt.

Competition is not healthy when it’s about rank ordering, putting yourself in place compared to others, trying to figure out what your worth is, how you stack up against folks, and when you are “attaching value” and “better than.”

So what will I do with that sticker and that luggage tag? I won’t be putting it on my bike or my bike box, because for me that would take me to a place of recognizing and affirming the comparison inherent within it. But if you choose to do so, then I say Kudos, there is no judgement here, only love and acceptance for all of my fellow competitors. I would hate for someone to not stick that sticker on because they felt I would disapprove rather than because they came to that decision on their own. It’s just a sticker for heavens sake, or as Angela’s husband said on FB today…”most expensive luggage tag ever!”

Perfectionism

So, I’ve been slowly wading my way through Brene Browns Daring Greatly and let me tell you, it’s a “one day at a time” sort of book. There is so much in there and it’s really got that researchers touch that appeals to the mathematician in me. Lady has mad skills.

So, she talks about certain shields that all of us as humans tend to apply to protect ourselves from being hurt, diminished, and disappointed. We wrap ourselves in a coat of thoughts, behaviors and emotions that we think protect us from harm.

I found that as I read some of the chapters I was saying “Huh, that’s what so and so does, that’s interesting” but then we hit the perfectionism chapter and I found myself underlining EVERY SINGLE PARAGRAPH and saying to myself “that’s what I do.” It was interesting to connect with some stuff so deeply.

Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving for excellence. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is a defensive move. It’s the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame.

–Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Crap…girl just got all up inside my head. I totally see a lot of this in myself. The good thing is that after 7 years in triathlon I understand what striving for excellence means and have had many successful quests in this department. But I also identify greatly with the second sentence, the concept that perfection insulates me from judgement. I struggle when judged. Another quote that came later in the book ties in this with this. After I read this quote in the book I had to put it down for awhile. I really did. Mind. On. Fire. (Underlined Part)

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It’s this tightrope that has to be walked and I’m really coming to understand more and more that allowing yourself some leeway is so important. The perfectionist (me) struggles with leeway, with self forgiveness. It’s the little things: not being able to be everything to everyone, not being able to cook and clean and train and mother and get enough sleep and maintain meaningful relationships with my friends, my athletes, my coach, my parents, all while dressing cute and applying sunscreen (seriously, I feel like this last one is going to undo me sometimes). I’m incredibly hard on myself when I drop a ball, despite my intentions being in the right place all along.

Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule following, people pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, they adopted this dangerous, and debilitating belief system: “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect.”

— Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

This last quote is in no way a dig on my parents. I have great parents, they taught me manners, how to respect others, and they taught me how to show people love with my actions. Both my parents are some of the most generous people on this planet, whether it’s with their time, their food, or their knowledge. They taught me to give of myself to others, to help and be available to people in need. I am one of the best mama bears you can have around you. I nurture people with my actions. It’s a big part of who I am and that’s what makes it hard to find that gap between ME and PERFECTIONISM. How do you keep the good stuff and let go of the shield. I’m learning it’s all in the WHY!

Perfectionism is more about perception than internal motivation, and there is no way to control perception, no matter how much time and energy we spend trying.

–Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

That was a big ah-hah. I really have to separate the intention behind my actions into two separate categories

— Because I want to  <—-GOOD

— Because I feel I need to for approval  <—-PERFECTIONISM

I have found that since reading this chapter from her book I find myself repeating “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good” really often. Probably 3-5 times a day I catch myself doing something and I have to say those words in my head.

Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien
Dit que le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.

(In his writings, a wise Italian
says that the best is the enemy of the good)

–Voltaire, La Bégueule

So, here’s to moving forward in a more half-ass way! It feels good to read a book for once that doesn’t make me feel like I need to be more, do more, be better, etc. I feel like the important take away from the book is to have the courage to be vulnerable, imperfect, and self-compassionate. That’s where important things in life start to come out of the fog. It’s a weekly thing for me. I find that I’m good, I’m cranking along, and then something will set me off, a missed session, a dirty house, being really tired, and suddenly my perfection-beast is screaming at me to buckle down, stop being lazy, do more, work harder, work faster, oh and smile through it. I’m still trying to really understand my triggers. It’s a work in progress.

 

Filling Buckets and Osmo Goodnight

I finished reading the Bucket book. It was a really short read but a few things have really stuck with me. It’s reinforced something that I have believed for a long time about endurance sports as well.

I’m gonna be kinda controversial here…you may not agree and you can go ahead and give it to me in the comments if you like! You know when they say:

“Take the positive, learn from the negative, and move on”

Well, being that I’m basically in the business of getting people to do just that in an endurance sports setting, I can say:

GOOD LUCK!

Most people can not do this. It’s more like:

“Take the negative, push away the positive, hang on”

I often think that if I could just get my athletes to absorb the positive, forget the negative, don’t even learn from it, just forget it, and then move on, i.e. keep having fun and chasing the fun, if I could get them to do that, the results would skyrocket. It’s this hanging onto your smallness, your negative internal thoughts, that keep you down. They keep that one foot attached to the floor.

But we are humans, and we want to dwell on what needs fixing, what went wrong. We like to explain away our progress, we don’t want to internalize how awesome we are, after all, we need to be humble, we can’t be arrogant. If we think we are awesome, then people might not want to be around us. Who wants to be around awesome?

Secret….everyone! If you deeply accept your progress and forgive yourself for the other stuff, you will like hanging out with yourself (and so will others, but that will matter less if you dig yourself).

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Rant over…okay, the Bucket book. It’s quick and simple, but the basis is that when you contribute positively to someones life, you fill their bucket. And when you fill their bucket, you fill your own. If you contribute negatively to someones life, you scoop out of their bucket, and you scoop out of your own. So the book simply advocates that you aim to fill peoples buckets. That’s it! Focus on the good stuff in others, not because the bad stuff doesn’t exist, but because it’s not helpful to harp on it, even for the sake of “learning” and “progress” and “fixing mistakes.” Just aim to authentically see the good stuff in people, tell them about what you see, feel good about doing it, that’s all.

“The lesson here is clear: If you want people to understand that you value their contributions and that they are important, the recognition and praise you provide must have meaning that is specific to each individual.”

–How Full is Your Bucket, Tom Rath and Donald O Clifton

The biggest connection I had with this book was in regards to my daughter. There are some areas of school that she is struggling and some stuff that she really shines at. She’s always been that way, she crawled and walked REALLY early, but talked REALLY late. She’s always been way up in one area and way down in another area at the same time. It’s left us scratching our heads, and worrying a lot. And what did we do when she started to really struggle in school in one area? We got tutors (Love Mrs.Pam), we spent lots of extra time, we grilled, and flash carded, and played games. You know what we didn’t do? Expand upon her strengths. We were spending so much time trying to get the deficient areas up to par that we weren’t throwing time, money, energy into what she already rocks the house at. That will be changing pronto. Because when we become adults, we do more of what we rock at, and we find ways to not do what we suck at. That’s the truth. And our strengths and positives need MORE effort and engagement than our deficiencies. So, anyone know of any Math camps in the Denver area?! Or camps where you take my recycle bin and make elaborate cities out of it’s contents??

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This week has been a great week of training. I really started to see the benefits of the Coast Ride and Cali camp start to shine through in some nice run paces at low heart rate. That was a surprise and made me happy. I’m really enjoying the increased running that Muddy is giving me. It’s nothing major as everything with him is just this beautiful gradual thoughtful build. It’s all very non obvious and just comes at you bit by bit. The key for me is really establishing and maintaining consistency. That’s been my focus this week and things have gone great. I also had my athletes over 3 of the days this week for training sessions and I just love how enriching having them around is. They really inspire me daily and help me keep consistent along the way.

I got my new TriBella kit for next year. I must say, it’s definitely the most girl power kit I’ve ever worn and I feel pretty in it. That’s not something I ever expected to say, but I’m pretty gleeful about it. I’m also motivated to NOT drink Coke on the course this year, because the front of it is white and Coke is going to make it brown I think!! Thanks Liz and Nikki for posing with me! Lastly, Liz did the “soaking wet” test with the kit, and despite all your wishes this bad boy is not see-through! Hahaha!

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Part of developing consistency in training this week, I also got back into the consistent routine of fueling like a PRO. OSMO Active during my sessions, and recovery drinks after the appropriate ones. The other thing I added this week was the GOODNIGHT that Osmo advocates. Stacey tried to develop a powder that you would mix with Almond milk as a goodnight but she could never get a consistent taste and texture. So she just published how you could make your own.

My thoughts so far:

— I tried it with unsweetened almond milk. I wasn’t a big fan. It was more like “get it down”

— I tried it with sweetened almond milk. It was much more tasty, but the cocoa powder was clumpy

— I put all ingredients in the vitamix, this was better

— I upped the sweeted almond milk to 8oz instead of 6, and put it in the Vitamix, and added a few ice cubes, this is my favorite so far.

I want to try adding a frozen banana, or maybe some frozen organic cherries, I’ll do that tomorrow. The taste is like bad cherry chocolate milk. It’s strange, but with my tweaks I can’t exactly call it “Bleh” anymore, it’s more like “Okay, cool.”

Also, I bought the really pricy Valerian, it’s in capsule form, and I started with 1/2 the dose she suggests.

Outcome: deeper sleep, fresher wake up in the morning, and feeling just a little more recovered than I expected, although I have added back in the Normatec pants as well. Also, drinking this is like a pavlov’s dog situation. You drink the drink, you go to bed. Sometimes drinking a drink is an easier decision than dragging yourself to bed. But you drink it, and then you just head to bed easily. That’s been a nice perk for me.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Lastly, I just want to give a short and public I love you to Troy and Annie. I felt very loved last friday and am constantly reminded how lucky I am that we are such a strong supportive team. Love you Troy, thanks for accepting all of me even more than I accept myself.

Use the Tools

Okay, today was an exciting day. First off, Michelle is doing great after surgery, things went well and we are excited to see what the knee looks like under all the bandages. She’s doing all her machines and being a good patient and relaxing, and taking her pain meds. It’s fun having her here and I’m glad she trusted us enough with her recovery. All is good for now! She’s got a long road ahead of her, but we are excited she’s now on the road! We video blogged today about being friends. It’s a sappy one, kinda cute too.

 

So, a kind of exciting thing happened today. Melissa Hartwig, one of the Whole30 founders emailed me last night to say that she was featuring my Whole30 journey on the Whole30 website today. She included a lot of the email that I sent her back when we were having the great “Whole30 debate” on my blog. I swapped a lot of emails with Melissa when I was frustrated at being challenged on my Whole30ness back about a month ago and I’ll admit that I got to a good place with all this, thanks a ton to Troy for his insight and lots of the comments you all left on this here blog. Food is controversial, that I definitely learned. So the jury rang in, and I think the verdict is that I’m not a technical Whole30er, and that’s okay. I completely agree, and I’m honestly proud of myself for not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It’s in my personality when things get controversial and I’m being called out to just walk away. I’ve done this with relationships, so it was a sign of growth for me to be okay with the middle ground. Just being honest here.

Also, Melissa thinks I am a professional triathlete. She asked to look through my blog and for a non triathlete I totally get how she could think that. Those of you in triathlete-land know that I don’t have a Pro card, but that I could if I wanted to and I have qualified to do so. Most of you know that I have been trying to win my (amateur) age group in Hawaii for several years now and thus haven’t taken that Pro card. Also, just my opinion, but in order to win my AG in Hawaii I think it will take a mid to upper Pro pack performance to do so. Most pros don’t make much money although they are technically racing for it, that’s the reality of the sport. However, I think most athletes in my situation make the decision to go or not based on what will challenge them and keep them improving. My Hawaii goal continues to challenge me and keeps me questing for improvement. So, long winded here, but just an explanation for if/when you read this article.

whole30If you would like to read the write up you can either go to the main page of Whole30.com and scroll to the bottom, or you can click on the image below:

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What I learned from this experience is that there are a lot of tools out there. Now more than ever tons of health minded people are putting their opinions about what health/development looks like out on the inter web. They are developing books you can read, programs you can follow, movements you can latch onto. I think this is awesome! I always want to jump on them! I’m a self experimenter at heart! In this day and age you can write a book, and then engage with the people who loved the book in new and exciting ways. You can create classes, programs, challenges online, twitter and facebook followings, and turn your book readers into your network of followers and advertisers. It’s getting pretty crazy…crazy cool! Whole30 has done it, the Happiness Project has done it, Brene Brown has done it, I can keep going here…. It’s everywhere in our “new-media” age.

I think this new way of reaching and engaging people is pretty neat, but to the individual, I want to stress that these are tools. I personally feel that health for each of us looks different. It’s like your favorite outfit (StitchFix is awesome by the way), it may be Classy Chic, but it’s a jet black collared top with impeccably tailored tan slacks and a set of black heels. It’s yours, it’s unique, it’s a reflection of your taste/needs. Someone else may have the same slacks, but not the same heels. We are each unique and your favorite outfit most likely will not work for me. You have to try things on, see how they feel, throw out the black heals and put on a tall pair of boots. Use the tools at your disposal, but know that you have a heart and a soul guiding you, that your intuition is uniquely you and is a voice that needs to be allowed to speak.

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That’s my take away from this situation. Use the tools in this awesome world, not to paralyze you, but to educate you. Take what you like, toss the rest. Give things a good college try and consider yourself and your life an experiment of one. In the end, it’s you that has to live with the decisions you made, so you need to make decisions that you can live with the consequences of. What I am really thankful for today is the level of engagement that Melissa at Whole30 was willing to have with me. She cared about my journey both personally and as a teachable moment. I value that sort of engagement. I adopted a lot of the Whole30 recommendations, and some I did not. I’m not going to do another “Whole30,” I’ve learned from that tool and will most likely continue to education from other tools in the future. I feel lucky that I live in todays world, I’m jazzed about the trajectory and about how many new subjects are finding a voice out there.

Beyond Your Dreams

I spend a lot of time in stillness. Frenzied stillness.

The sound of water splashing and moving, but no words, just breath.

The tires on road, the wind in my ears, no words, just cars.

My feet hitting the ground, the wind in the trees, no words, just my breath, strong and steady.

I have a lot of time to dream, to aspire, to think “what if?”

I have a vivid imagination, for myself, and for others. I am an only child, I had imaginary friends.

When it’s quiet and still my brain goes places, mostly to Ironman finish lines, but sometimes to the mountains, to steep peaks, to wooded groves, along the beach.

Recently, it was always the finish lines. During my swims I was looking for those exit stairs, looking for the clock, on the bike I was always in aero, always with my legs pumping up and down, and my heart full of speed and joy, and wind, and it was fulfilled, in search of the dismount line. But the finish line appeared often, my trusty legs always got me there, and in my dreams, in the quiet frenzy, it was so sweet, I was always successful.

I have been known to put my arms up in training, in the middle of an interval, in mock celebration of the Ironman finish chute. I have gotten finish line tears on more runs than finish lines I’ve ever crossed.

The three Ironman finish lines that I crossed in reality this year have been finish lines that existed in my dreams, my day dreams. They were imagined so far before they ever became a reality. How I felt running down those chutes was exactly how I felt in anticipation of those results.

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible”

–T.E.Lawrence

Running down the finish chute in Arizona was the first time I really felt like winning my AG at Kona is within my grasp. When we set goals it’s really hard to understand what it’s going to take to get to it. And winning my age group at Kona is one of those goals that is easy to make and hard to know what it’s going to take.

Every year I felt like I was more prepared, and yet it’s felt like the frog who jumps half way to the wall each time. The frog never arrives, he’s always just getting half the way closer. But Arizona felt different, like that was the kind of performance it was going to take, but in hot conditions with all the competition in the world.

This year was a quiet year for me. The blog traffic took a hit, and the posts were fewer and farther between. Next year will be the same, if not even more quiet. I have started to understand what it takes for me to be at my best, and the constant time on the computer isn’t on that path. Training with my friends and family in the sport is key, being around my coach is key. Leaving the training at the doorstep when I get back home, and shutting off in order to be a good mom and wife is essential for me.

Every person has to find their own balance, but once you find it, hold onto it dearly. Don’t sacrifice your best you for social norms, or others expectations. This has been the most healthy year of my life. I was the fittest I’ve ever been, the most physically healthy I’ve ever been, and the most emotionally healthy I’ve ever been. But there is more in this girl, there are more finish lines that I’ve imagined. There are more adventures yet to be had.

“Adventure is not outside man; it is within”

–George Elliot

 

 

Taking Leaps

As previously mentioned, I spoke this past week at the Multisport Madness Youth Triathlon Team end of season banquet. I got to talk to a whole bunch of triathlon minded kids about the sport I love so much. These kids were experts, they had been to national championships, some of them had won national titles. I was so impressed and inspired by the love and passion and natural ease these kids had.

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As I was prepping for my speech I really had to do some introspection. I mainly was thinking about when I was young and what stopped me from realizing my potential. Why did it take until after I had Annie (which granted was pretty young) to get a kick in the butt to go chase my dreams?

I don’t really know.

But I do remember how concerned I was for so many years with what others though about my actions, and what others thought about me. I was afraid when I would decide to do something or not do something. I recognize NOW that I often thought about how others would view those decisions…and not in a good way.

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Now having had some success in sport, and life, and coaching others I have a unique vantage point to look back. I can look in the rear view mirror and look for trends that enabled me to succeed.

When I did that, the biggest overarching theme I could come up with was TAKING RISKS. Every time I have had success in this sport it came on the coat tails of taking what I saw as a big risk. When I have been down in the dumps and performing poorly, it’s come from me being risk adverse, and choosing to remain in my comfort zone, or it was because I was making decisions based on my fear of other peoples opinions.

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Taking risks requires confidence. You have to be okay with putting aside what others think about you and your actions. I heard a quote a few years back that really stuck with me.

What other people think of me is none of my business.  —Wayne Dyer

People are going to judge your actions, because they are trying to learn from the world just like you. Don’t take it personally, we are each on our own path, always leading to different places. Take the risk to do things  your own way. Aim to forge your own path, built on the mistakes and lessons learned from your past, not other peoples.

Also looking back I understood that pain is involved. I seem to handle physical pain pretty well. I can run with blisters, and my muscles screaming. I can tell my legs to shut up and most the time I can do it with a smile. But whereas I am bomber with physical pain, I struggle with emotional pain. Past experiences effect me deeply and I struggle to move past previous emotional pain. Letting go of negative experiences has been a trigger to my success in sport, life, and coaching.

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.                   —John Holmes

Relentless positivity is a work in progress for me, but when I am successful at it, my accomplishments seem to turn wicked positive! I have to chase the fun. If I am enjoying the process, and stepping out of my comfort zone, I am in the pocket.

I talked to the Multisport Madness kids about an Ah-hah I had. I have realized that when I am scared of something, I must go more in that direction. When my body or my mind fears a situation, a light bulb goes off. Progress towards my goals is made when I don’t hesitate, I don’t question, I just sense the fear, and move in a direction straight towards the source of my angst.

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When I was in Hawaii I went cliff jumping on one of my last days there. I remember stepping up to the cliff, to this little ledge and feeling the fear. It was tangible, that breathless feeling. My heart was racing and I could feel that paralyzing feeling while my brain tried to catch up with the fear. Before it could catch up, and not 3 seconds after I started to feel it, I jumped.

I don’t remember what it looked like on the way down, or how the water felt when I hit. I remember most of my bikini ending up in places it wasn’t meant to be. The feeling I mostly felt was satisfaction because I could look at the fear, not hesitate, and go for it.

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The exact way I hope to live my life going forward.

Unexpected Pep Talk

Troy and I went to pick Annie up from camp together today, and on the way home I had Troy drop me at the store to pick up sweet potatoes. I, of course, ended up with 2 full bags of groceries and walked home with them. Widdle Waddle. I’m a horribly slow walker. It drives Troy crazy. I use all my fast during my day’s training.

So, I walk into my cul-de-sac driveway thing (is that how you spell cul-de-sac?). I live in a tiny group of 8 duplexes…or 4 duplexes I guess, not sure how you “count” them. We are, for the most part, a pretty tight bunch of neighbors. We share a communal driveway, it’s not a city road, so we group together to pay for repairs. There are 6 kids (and one on the way, but not from my belly) and all the adults look out for all of the kids.

Okay, so I walk into the cul-de-sac and my neighbor Michael is fixing some sprinklers that he’s got in his yard. Usually I would just let him be. I’m a social girl, but for some reason I’m one of the more shy ones on the block. Troy is actually the chatty one and likes to provide the hood with lots of home brew beer. Many bottles have been consumed on the front porch between him and the neighbors. I usually just want to crawl back into my bed, and for me, home is my nest.

Over to Michael I go and ask him what he’s doing and he tells me. We chat about it for a second and then I head out and on the way out he says “Do you have any races coming up?” Now the whole block and some of the surrounding blocks know I’m a triathlete and that we go to Kona every year, yada yada yada. So I tell Michael I’ve got Vegas 70.3 World Championships in September and Kona Ironman World Championships in October. He kinda nods and then he says “Do you think you’re going to win a World Championship?”

It kinda stops me in my tracks. I turn around. Now, if you know me, you know that I’m an honest to a fault kind of girl. Lying to this man is not something I’m actually capable of doing. And I say “I don’t know Michael, it’s hard to keep getting your hopes up year after year and never really get any closer to it, I’ll do my best. It’s my 4th year headed back to Kona and it’s a really hard race. It’s hard to come back heart broken year after year. I’ll race my best, that’s all I can ask.”

He said to me “You need to focus more on it, you know what, come here…”

So I walk back over, still with two full bags of groceries in my hands and I stand in front of him.

For ten minutes he gave me the most amazing pep talk I’ve had. He talked to me about certainty, and expectations. He told me a story about really wishing that Troy would bring him some of his home brew Stout last week, and how he went to the liquor store and the Killians Red Stout was on sale. He bought some, got home and it tasted exactly like Troys Stout. So much that he had to bring Troy a bottle. He said that you have to voice your wants and understand that your energy is powerful enough to bring things to fruition.

He talked to me about jinxing things, and that it doesn’t exist. He said he watches me train day in and day out and just knows the only thing between me and my goal is my head. He said when you go to flip your bedroom light switch, you don’t wonder if you are good enough for your lamp to turn on. There are things in life that you don’t associate the word “deserve” with. It’s a choice.

It was all very “power of attraction” kind of stuff, but delivered through my horse riding, wrangler wearing, sprinkler fixing, beer drinking neighbor. It kinda rocked my world and I walked away feeling like it wasn’t a coincidence that I needed sweet potatoes this afternoon. I think I needed to run into Michael.

So what do you think? Do you ever get scared of putting BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) out there? Are you afraid of heart break when you make goals? I know I get that way. Can you all believe that I’ve been working for 4 years on trying to be a World Champion? Did you ever think it was for any other reason? I get asked often (and when I say often I mean often and with all sorts of various intentions) whether I will turn professional. The answer has always been no, and the reason, in my heart has always been because I want to be an age group world champion.