The past year was that of significant change, much of which was out of my control. Whether I was ready or not for a new challenge, it was heading my way, and I reluctantly went with it. Why not? People have far worse things happen to them than a relationship ending. Change did not come easily, though it was easy to just keep running and training, as if nothing had happened.
This spring I did the Frank McNamara Cross-Country Race Series and I can not recall ever feeling like I could run so fast – funny how the feeling of anger makes you feel physically invincible! I ran like hell each week. I traveled to BC to race the Wasa Lake Triathlon in June - it was very cold but I had a wonderful and much needed venture out of my normal life. Over the next couple of months, my training was not consistent or specific, if at all, but my performances were still good. I even won a couple races. I knew these successes would come to end, and I was prepared for it to end. The first sign of coming apart was at the Great White North Triathlon in July where I was competing as a team – emotionally and physically, I had nothing left in me. I usually don’t disassociate in a race, I think about all the people in my life who are important to me, how much they inspired me on this journey, and when I feel tired I think about seeing them at the finish line, but this time I used the trick of counting to one-hundred over and over and over. I was still hurt by what had happened, and was trying to disassociate from the feeling of betrayal that was now becoming physically debilitating. That feeling persisted the following week at the National Sprint Triathlon Championships – I raced but I physically/emotionally felt flat, despite coming 2nd. Placing and performances were now irrelevant; I wanted the enjoyment knew I once had back and I wanted these current feelings to go away. By August, I changed my focus and found new opportunities: I was a pace-bunny for the Edmonton Derby Half-Marathon; I returned to volunteering at an afterschool running and reading program; journal writing started to take the shape of entries for an eventual blog; and I was the “support crew” for someone special at their first Ironman. I really enjoyed and benefited from these experiences. Unfortunately, in the Fall Cross-Country Race Series, I had enough of trying to race and quietly stopped running. I began to look ahead to my next running plans and new life.
An emotion tells you nothing about truth, beyond the fact that someone makes you feel something, but I discovered what I truly valued by living through all those emotions. I learned that many people around me valued the same things. I now have a firm, consistent and uncompromising value of running, love, and friendship in my life. I am committed to sharing my experience and knowledge that I have gained throughout my years as a runner/triathlete. Many of you have already learned that this journey is about more than just completing a distance or setting a new personal best, it is about learning from your pursuits and challenges, from the mind and the body.
For 2013, I have decided to take up the challenge of “distance”. My training plan this coming year will get me to become a confident marathon runner and Ironman athlete.
When I think of confidence, I think of my daughter Ceilidh and I remember her first triathlon. As all the kids lined-up to start the swim 20 seconds apart, one by one, I was being the parent, trying to give her tips to get her through her first triathlon race – she had never done the front crawl before and I was worried. Instead of listening to my instructions, she promptly went to the front of the line and went first with all the other kids watching. She ran down the grass embankment and waved to me as I took a picture. She just smiled and went on with her race. She did the front crawl the entire 250 meters! She smiled the entire race, even while walking her bike up a very steep hill, she smiled even more when she came to the finish line, and even more when she realized there were cookies for a post-race buffet. What I failed to see was that she had no doubt in herself that she could do this, and she did it, just like that!
It is hard not to get ahead of myself. But I can clearly see myself coming to the finish line in the inaugural Challenge Penticton on the same course where I had cheered on many friends this past summer, I can imagine the feeling of accomplishment after 278 more days of training for my first iron-distance race, and I can feel what I thought was lost coming on stronger than ever before. Whether I was ready or not for a new challenge, it was heading my way....