Deep Breaths, I'm On My Way

Have you ever had that feeling where you know exactly where you’re going, but realized you had a long way to go to get there? I slammed right into that realization last week while attending a TEDx workshop in Santa Barbara. For years, in fact for all of them, I have loved speaking in front of a crowd. It could be because as the youngest of four children I needed/craved attention, or it could be that I feel the greatest high when I can make people laugh. These days, my ultimate goal has been to share my message within my book 35 by 35: A Runner’s Quest with the world through speaking engagements. Therefore, I jumped at the chance to attend this workshop when it was recommended from a friend from high school, Tim Bauer, an exceptional human-being, and TEDx speaker.

 

I arrived on Thursday morning to the Narrative loft in Santa Barbara more excited than nervous, as I was fully prepared with my idea ready to build my talk around. I was awash with the sensation that this was what I was meant to do, share my message with enthusiasm, humor, and sincerity. However, that velvet-coated sensation was abruptly stripped off my bones when I realized that my message is not unique at all. Everyone has heard it before in a variety of ways, “Go after your dreams!” “Follow your passion!” “You must believe in order to achieve!” What I learned over the next two days was that I stand by my message; I am a living, breathing example of how setting goals can lend life purpose. But, I need to stand out. How can I say that and not sound clichéd? Or, not go directly into my passion for running marathons and not turn off 2/3 of the crowd who couldn’t ever imagine running a mile, let alone 26.2? Therefore, it feels like I have a marathon to go in order to achieve what I want to with my talk.

I believe my life’s purpose is to stand in front of people and share how I live my life by constantly pursuing goals. Also, I believe that my stories can convince them they can do it, too. However, I have a lot of work to do preparing that talk. It needs to sound effortless, yet will take months to perfect. I want to make people laugh, smile, and believe that setting and reaching their own goals is possible, because it is! I want to share that the key to setting and reaching goals, is about allowing yourself to learn along the way, celebrate the accomplishment, evaluate the process, then set another goal. I call it the “Goal Cycle.” That is how I live my life. I set goals, work hard toward achieving them, enjoy the moment when I do, evaluate how it all went down, sometimes there are podiums, sometimes there are dreary drives home, but every time I feel a sense of accomplishment and am challenged to try again.

 Photo courtesy of Robin Karlsson

Photo courtesy of Robin Karlsson

For example, I raced the Carpenteria Triathlon last Sunday, and went into it believing I could place highly overall, and slam-dunk my age group. I was confident because I have been training harder and smarter the last month than I have been in years, and I was primed to test it out. Also, I wanted to do well at this race because of how it ended exactly five years ago. The first and only race I DNF’d. However, I do stand by my decision to call it that day when I noticed blood inside my helmet after my crash; luckily common sense overrode ambition. Nevertheless, this year I wanted to finish and perform well.

However, open water swimming is tricky, especially when the chosen body of water is the ocean. At the start, I swam well and felt good, in fact I felt strong the whole time. Unfortunately, I took the wrong left turn toward shore, I thought the Sprint beach ball was the Olympic beach ball, clearly my confidence was soaring, but the lifeguards on paddle boards set me straight and back on the right path. Sadly, once I made it to the proper Beach Ball, I was too close to shore, so in order to prevent disqualification, I had to swim back out to sea, round the Beach Ball properly, and swim back in again. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself, because it was such a stupid mistake that cost me minutes on the day, and certainly my podium spot, but that is the essence of triathlon racing, anything can happen.

Upon arrival to transition, I decided there was no point in licking my wounds from the swim, it was time to move on and make the best out of the day. I re-focused my goals and decided to ride smart and then destroy myself on the run.

The bike course was beautiful and dry, which meant when I approached the turn that took me out five years ago; I rounded it confidently and correctly and went about my merry way. I felt a pang of emotion, and realized that making that turn was the ultimate win of the day. I had carried that crash on my shoulders for too long, it was time to make the turn and leave it behind me.

The run course is fun and dusty, a delicious blend of road and trail that is both delightful and challenging. When I exited transition I ran as fast I could for as long as I could. I have had some pride swallowing moments facing my dwindling run speed over the last few weeks of training, so I was determined to grind out the fastest 10K possible. I am positive I looked like Phoebe from Friends, but I was not concerned with careful, cool form, I just wanted to get my large body to the finish line as fast as I could. It worked; I ran a 45:43 10K, which was 3rd fastest female time of the day, not my best, but a decent time for the honest course.

The next few hours of the day I spent saturated in exhaustion. The culmination of the mental and emotional aerobics at the 2-day TEDx workshop, coupled with the race on Sunday annihilated every cell of energy I had left. I ate everything within reach and slept over nine hours that night, and still needed the first few days of this week to knock off the remaining fatigue, but wow, what a week!

All in all, I know where I want to go, and understand it will take time and effort to get there, but I am on my way.