Irony and sport. Some days, we can walk away from an event and despite a lackluster outcome, realize an even greater 'victory' than what a win could ever provide. When I reflect on this years Eagleman 70.3 event (that I competed in yesterday), I keep coming back to two concepts: Irony and Persistence.
Why irony? I have been focusing on my cycling for a few months now. I went into this race having logged 6 rides of close to 80 or more miles; for me, this is a huge accomplishment and also a significant increase in my training on the bike (mind you, they have all been at least a week apart from one another). I was feeling strong, confident and ready to test out my 'new' cycling legs. Sure, I was fortunate to have done a PR marathon back in March, but in need of some run-recovery, I had greatly shifted my focus away from running (as in, 3-4 runs/week) and over to the bike, my glaring weakness in triathlon. Looking longer term, I am planning to do an Ironman in late August, and I am bound and determined not to let my race result (or lack thereof) be decided by yet another slow bike split.
Irony? I got out there on Sunday, in Maryland, and from the first 5 miles, I felt flat. It hurt. I literally had nothing in me for the bike. To have 56 miles to go on flat legs and an ensuing negative attitude, it made for a rough 2 hours and 36 minutes (yes... the slowest professional bike split by, oh; about 5 minutes). Multiple times, I wanted to quit. My thoughts: 'What is WRONG? Why NOW? I am rested! This is not supposed to happen!'
Persistence: I could not quit. I did not even have an excuse. As much as I would have welcomed a flat tire, or a mechanical, there was none of it... just me, my non-cycling legs and lots of open road. I cannot be so proud that, simply on an 'off' day, I give in to pain and a sub-par body. My thoughts out there on the long, lonely roads (as I cursed at myself each and every time another woman would pass me), "Quitting gets you nowhere. You know you are better than this; we all have bad days." Unfortunately, countered with, "Kelly, give it UP! Who are you kidding? Throw in the towel. Do you want to have another 'great swim, great run' race? Enough is enough."
because on the days you are off, or struggling, you have to battle not only a body that
does not want to perform, but a slew of negative thoughts along with it.
Irony? The end of the 56-miles did eventually come, though none too early, and what did I find? My legs! My running legs! I came off the bike and I felt very strong, it was almost as if I could barely keep up with them.
More irony? A PR 1/2 marathon run split off the bike by over 2 minutes. (...what? how?...) I probably passed 6 or 7 women and was lucky to sneak in for a 5th place finish and even felt stellar that last mile (as I even timed myself to see what I could do on mile 13!). While I came into this race having been 3rd in 2008, and with a goal of
It may sound cliche, but if you are doing what you love in life - if you are attacking your passions with genuine enthusiasm and honest hard work - and if you believe in yourself, giving up when shit happens simply gets you nowhere. (that was my other recurring thought, 'shit happens').
We learn so more about ourselves on the tough days than the days it all just comes together. Remember to try to see some perspective when you find yourself in this situation (as we all will, at some point)... How bad is it, really? A mediocre day of racing (or even training) is still a glorious day because you are out there doing it. And I believe that when we can finish the task on the tough days, even if it it ugly (and you want to cry; not that I wanted to cry...) this is what gives us the strength to have the good days. Had I of quit on the bike, I would not have allowed myself the chance to redeem myself on the run. And THAT would have been a wasted opportunity. So, keep at it; you never know what may be hiding around the next corner.
~Kelly Handel Williamson