I think there are two kinds of people in this world, those who love Gwyneth Paltrow, and those who despise her. I sit firmly in the love camp. In a broader sense, I believe Gwyneth represents optimism, and her haters represent pessimism. Yes, I am fully aware that many of the products and practices she promotes on her website www.goop.com are ridiculously expensive, but I am constantly searching for inspiration, and Gwyneth’s message inspires me. Also, I have enough self-awareness to know that I don’t have to literally walk in her shoes to be inspired by her, I simply take it in, nod my head, put my own spin on it, and move on. I don’t get caught up in that fact that she has something I don’t, she is who she is, and I am who I am, and that’s okay. I believe envy is crippling, and I feel blessed every day that I am not an envious person. I live each day trying to be the best version of myself, not the best version of someone else, which is a positive personality trait that will come in handy on Saturday, my first triathlon of the season in Oceanside, 70.3.
For the last two years I have been on the sidelines cheering on teammates at Ironman Oceanside, 70.3, the unofficial kick-off race of the triathlon season. In 2017 I raced the LA marathon a week so before, and last year, I was set to run the Boston marathon the following week. However, I wanted to devote the majority of this season to triathlon, which meant no Spring marathons, and instead wearing a bib Oceanside.
I have raced it twice, in 2009 and 2010, so I am familiar with the course, but it’s been a minute. In fact, the last time I raced Oceanside was the first year Hillary coached me, and I remember being thoroughly perplexed when she gave me notes beforehand like, “Jump on someone’s feet in the swim.” I had no idea what she was talking about. Furthermore, I had zero confidence in myself that I could do anything right in the water, let alone execute a cool tactic like catching a faster swimmer’s draft? Instead, I got yelled at twice by a volunteer kayaker, and almost DQ’d for veering way off course during the swim. Cut to six months ago in Kona, I rode on speedy feet the whole morning in Kailua Bay which no doubt helped me slice off 2-3 minutes of my swim time.
Still, I hope I don’t get yelled at on Saturday morning.
I am excited about this race, but I hadn’t really give it much thought since I signed up, until late last week when I was overwhelmed by paralyzing indifference. I had a great first half of the week of training, and then collapsed over the weekend. The reality of racing finally sunk in, and last thing in the world I felt was ready. I felt lost and disconnected from not only what I love about triathlon, but I what I love about being an athlete. I let myself get caught up in self-inflicted expectations that not a cell in my body believed I could live up to. Then on Sunday morning Marion brought up how he missed having our boat, The Abby Singer.
Yep, we once had a boat. We named it The Abby Singer because that is the term for the second to last shot of the day on set. However, I did NOT missing having that boat, it was a pain since the day we bought it, until the day we shipped it to its new owner in Dubai. Nevertheless, what I thought was interesting is the first memory that popped in my head when he mentioned it, it was the day I ran the Long Beach marathon for the third time in 2009.
That race did not go well.
I ran it in 4:09hrs., nearly thirty minutes slower than my PR of 3:37 five years earlier. After the race I drove straight to San Pedro to meet up with Marion and Hannah who were relaxing on the boat. I sat on the stern of the boat sipping away my sorrows on a few Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest beers, and thought, “I don’t want to run like that ever again.” It wasn’t that I ran so slow that bothered me, (I wasn’t happy about it), but it was the fact that I didn’t care how I did from the moment the gun went off until the moment I crossed the finish line. I had allowed marathons to become mundane, my norm, and my performance showed that, and at that moment I promised never to let myself, or marathons, down like that again.
Last Saturday, nearly ten years after that disappointing race, I felt that same indifference creep back in. I was so afraid to not live up to my own expectations for this upcoming race,and everything else I am doing in my life right now, that I chose to protect myself and didn’t try very hard during workouts, and even quit one half-way through.
I know it is part of the human condition to feel sorry for ourselves. No one is perfect, not even Gwyneth. But, I think the key to getting through those down moments is knowing how pull yourself out of them. My top two methods are writing and running. Unfortunately, neither option worked last weekend. Still, I persisted. Late Sunday night, while scrolling through photos and footage from Kona, I started to smile, and then I started to edit, and then I started to let go of the self-doubt that had stifled me all weekend.
I woke up Monday morning energized. I was back.
I was not only excited to charge through my workouts, but genuinely giddy about the race on Saturday. Plus, I will be spending time with my teammates, my coach, my athletes, my family, and my friends throughout the week, and on race day I will do my best to be my best, there is no better result than that.
This song choice is dedicated to everyone racing this weekend.:)