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  • If at First You Don’t Succeed… Post A Picture of Yourself in a Swimsuit on Instagram

If at First You Don’t Succeed… Post A Picture of Yourself in a Swimsuit on Instagram

What a long post. I apologize in advance.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

…SO this is not my first rodeo.

And by rodeo, I mean the circus that is an iron distance race which is happening in–oh who is counting–four days. And because this is not my first rodeo, you must imagine my surprise when I went to the lake to swim yesterday morning …and had a minor panic attack in the open water.

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Granted the panic was not quite as righteous as the spectacle that happened in April of 2011.

But it was a panic nonetheless.

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I was having really terrible thoughts the whole drive to the lake.

Mostly about dead bodies in the water.  Don’t ask.

[Okay, fine. I’ll tell.  Last year during training for Ironman CDA, my friend Columbus told me about when he and his friend went out in the frigid water at Mary Alice Park – the lake where we always swim. A few hours later, he learned that a body… a BODY…. a no-longer-living-person… had washed up on the beach at Mary Alice…  Right where they were swimming.  Just a few hours later.  Swim swim swim. Body body body.
Omg.  I am scared of two things in this world–killer whales and dead bodies. (Which actually go hand in hand, when you think about it.) But seriously.  I don’t do funerals or viewings. I usually freak out and feel like I am going to pass out when I see caskets. It’s a thing, and a stupid thing.  My dad always says, “Be scared of the living, not the dead.”  But really, I think he’s scared that I won’t attend his  funeral.  (I will, Dad. I promise.) But if I attend a funeral, then you know I really (really) love you or your family. ]

So yesterday, I started thinking about the body that washed up on the shore last year.

And I was at the lake yesterday, alone.  Please don’t lecture me about swimming alone.  Or being in a weird place where bodies wash up alone. I can hear my dad now, “You’re lucky missy that YOUR body wasn’t the one washing up.”  I know, I know.

I really did think that somebody would be there swimming.

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And I was: a) only swimming for 20-30 minutes; b) swimming with my Keifer swim buoy; c) swimming only in chest-high water and d) there was a duck.  ^^^that duck, to be exact.

Still. Alone at the lake. My mind was churning and churning.  I had a new wetsuit too.  I’m not sure why I thought my trusty Orca suit needed to go away. But I was in a new one.

Five seconds in the water, and I knew it was gonna be a rough one.  The constriction of the wetsuit–this one was way high in the neck and too loose or something–either way, not good.  Then the water was cold. Not too cold (I have swam in colder), but enough to knock the breath out of me. Plus, I just wasn’t in a good place—dead body dead body TREE LIMB dead body dead body DUCK dead body dead body LEAVES dead body dead body F*HHHHHHCK!!!!!

Lots of bad things (and words) going through my head.

I wrapped it up (quickly) and got in the car. THIS IS NOT MY FIRST RODEO,  I screamed through the windshield at the duck staring at me from the grass.

Woozily, I procured a warm Starbucks coffee and called the Expert.  Told him I was quitting the race on Saturday—and the sport, for that matter.  He said, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”  Except this damn race, I screamed at him.

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Next, I texted the two other important tri-taper-crazy-related people in my life.

First, Coach Brett.

Second, my wise tri friend Yoda.

I heard back from Yoda first.  Her text went something like, “What in the hell is wrong with you?”  (Actually, I think that is verbatim).

Followed by lots of emojis.  She is racing the full 140.6 this weekend.

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The next texts came in a loud “voice” from Coach Brett. Like I could see him almost standing in front of me screaming.

Which I think, coupled with Yoda’s emoji-splat, is what I needed. Because of all the laundry list of issues that I have inside my head, the biggest one is that I do not like disappointing people.  And Coach B was disappointed in me–disappointed that after all the hard work that I (and he, through coaching and analyzing me) had put in…that I even thought about not showing up at the race.

Reason I wanted to quit? Because of a dumb swim with a dumb duck.

At the same time, I was getting texts from Yoda with very wise series of text-talk (a/k/a pep talks via text)…

These two people really yanked a knot in me, and I slowly came out of the funky fog that had descended over me yesterday. Slowly. But there’s more…

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A member of our Army, Lesley reached out via email and essentially said, “Let’s go back to the lake and kick its ass.”  Something maybe a little less profanity-driven, but I was kind of on a roll with the language yesterday anyway.

Long story short—we agreed to meet at the lake this morning. And kick its ass.  [In no uncertain terms.]

But first, I put on my boots with the fur, dropped the kids at school, and headed to the lake for this episode of Triathlon Meets “Flashdance.”

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Met Lesley and went to a new part of the lake.  We got in our suits.  We chatted a little.  Water felt about 65-67 degrees.

We swam and stopped and swam some more, and finished up a great, strong and smooth half mile swim… then ran for the warm cars.

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And that was that. We did it.

I was back in my Orca suit with my swimmer mind-set and feeling just fine. So the big crisis was averted, and I was ready to kick the race’s old butt again. Sort of.

Here’s the thing.  This post, this story is only about 85% true.

I have another thing that is seriously bugging me. And it’s my own insecurity. My own blindness. My own issue in my own head.

So here goes.

A few days ago, I posted this photo on Instagram.

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I had posted the following:

“So…I tried to lose forty pounds again over the last few months. I did not succeed. A hard admittance in this sport–to admit that I have failed #racingweight nirvana, yet again. I did not try as hard as I could have. But I did try. And that’s okay. It’s a mental battle and a lifelong journey to recover from some really old scars, a lifelong series of eating disorders and emotional hang-ups. Could I be thinner? Yep. Could I be faster? Yep. But going into this iron distance race next week, I am only sure of two things: I worked hard and also had some fun. As I turn 35 next month, I am also turning my eyes to finding the good in myself…turning my back on the self-loathing and focusing instead on being the best ME I can be. Right now. In the body I have… With all the junk I have in my real and proverbial trunk. Because no matter what… There’s still a strong and tough and fierce and #badass athlete here… under a fine layer of #fluff.”

The post received lots of encouraging comments (thank you), and I felt okay writing it. And I was kind of proud, like, “Hey, I am coming to terms with myself.. isn’t it great?”

But the thing is… I wrote it because I wanted to believe those words.  Because I know those words are right.

That I AM an athlete. That I am strong. That I am (sometimes) badass. Even in a pumpkin patch with my suburbanite mom-cup of Starbucks.

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So I lost 15 pounds in Ironman training this year. Then I gained back 14. Lost 4. Gained back 6.

So I have a net gain of who knows how much.

Exactly. Ex-freaking-actly.

I have a net gain… a net gain of a million things to be thankful for. A net gain of some really great meals and fond memories and slices of cake with my kids.

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I wrote and posted that Instagram photo because sometimes it helps me sort out all the feelings and emotions–to post stuff like that. Sometimes when I write, I figure out all these things… and just sometimes, I start to believe it.

And I realized over the last few days, that while I wish I had lost weight… I haven’t lost ANYTHING–and to be honest, how, how HOW wonderful and amazing is that?  I have a net gain of life? And experience? And strength?

And yesterday, here WAS the truth (I’m sorry it’s taking me so long to get there today)…

Truth: I felt (feel) way fat and way yucky this week, and I almost QUIT the whole race yesterday because of how much extra gut I have acquired over the last month.  I don’t like the way I am feeling and looking in stretchy fabrics this week.  I didn’t want to go out running and jiggling and trying to do a sub-fourteen hour 140.6. It seemed insane.

Trivial. Shallow. Insane. Ungrateful. Bad.

That’s more like it. Yep. All of those things.  I get it.  And guess what?

I am not perfect. Duh. And I have serious issues.

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Serious things going on.

I have bad demons and skeletons and all sorts of crazy things that make ME up.

And this week, it just seemed that all the demons and skeletons showed up at Dunkin Donuts with a bottle of Cuervo and there was a party of sorts, blueberry munchkins and shots flying everywhere, and I was the birthday girl wearing the hot pink birthday crown.  All the crazy came out.  And I was right in the middle of all of it.

But in the middle of crazy …sometimes comes clarity.

And today? Today I am okay.

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Tomorrow is a mystery, but for today I am okay.

Because the clarity is that I am immeasurably blessed and lucky and breathing and alive. I have a husband and family who loves me.  I climbed the Big Sister about fifteen times this last training cycle. I have ridden three centuries and run 17 miles without really stopping, and I am ready to go.

So I am going to toe the line of the race on Saturday, as me.  Just me. Me with all the weight I have carried around for virtually the last 10 years… all of me… is going to show up and race hard and strong, because you know what?

I have earned the right to have a good race. In spite of myself.

Now just time for me to get out of my own way.

Before Ironman Coeur d’Alene, I posted a time chart of my projected times/ scenarios

IRONMAN CDA SWIM T1 BIKE T2 RUN TOTAL
A Perfect Day 1:20:00 0:05:00 7:00:00 0:04:00 5:30:00 14:05:00
A Great Day 1:30:00 0:08:00 7:30:00 0:07:00 6:00:00 15:13:00
All Hell Breaks Loose 1:45:00 0:10:00 8:06:00 0:10:00 6:47:00 16:59:00

I ended up with a 16:44 finish time, so technically, I fell under “all hell breaks loose”–even though I had an AMAZING race.

So because that was so much fun, I thought I’d do it again here.  Here’s my scenarios for the race on Saturday.  If I had an expectation of a final race time (barring mechanicals and other tragedies) I think we can put me somewhere between A Great Day …and All Hell Breaks Loose.  🙂

B2B 140.6 SWIM T1 BIKE T2 RUN TOTAL
A Perfect Day 1:00:00 0:10:00 6:00:00 0:10:00 5:30:00 12:50:00
A Great Day 1:10:00 0:10:00 6:30:00 0:10:00 6:00:00 14:00:00
All Hell Breaks Loose 1:30:00 0:10:00 7:00:00 0:10:00 7:00:00 15:50:00

As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your internet reads. Although after this post, I may no longer be. 🙂

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The Expert is racing the half as well, so super good luck to him. He’s battled an Achilles injury this season, but he’s very excited to be back in training–this will be the first time he has completed two half irons in one year, so it’s a great day for him too.

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And with four days left, and thirteen years of marriage locked down… it seems as if we have survived another iron distance race training. Although you’d have to ask him, I guess to know for sure.   🙂

Good luck to all the Army and friends racing Beach 2 Battleship this weekend… see ya’ll there!

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30 Comments

  • Kim

    October 21, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    The day you posted that picture on Instagram, I thought, “Dang! She looks great!” I don’t ever look at your photos and see the overweight person you see. I see one amazing woman who is fit and inspiring. Go kill that race this weekend!

    Reply
  • Caroline Coleman

    October 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Love this: “And I realized over the last few days, that while I wish I had lost weight… I haven’t lost ANYTHING–and to be honest, how, how HOW wonderful and amazing is that? I have a net gain of life? And experience? And strength?”

    (I can related to the whole weight/eating issue thing, so that paragraph really stuck out to me.)

    Also loved that your friend insisted on swimming in that lake with you the next day. That is a superb friend.

    I really enjoyed this post! Thank you for being real! I did my first two triathlons (sprint distance) this year and loved both experiences! Reading your book and blog have been an encouragement to me.

    Good luck on Saturday! I’m rooting for you!!

    From Caroline (a Tri-Newbie), aka DogMom

    Reply
  • Heather

    October 21, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    As always – well said. And as always, thank you for sharing your journey. 🙂

    Hope to see you this weekend – I just need to survive the 112 miles and make the cut-off for my team. Fingers crossed I make it… 🙂 Best of luck to you!

    Reply
  • Holly Gray

    October 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    And this is why I love you! Great post. I so feel like this a lot of the time. Especially when I look at my sister who eats Chipotle at least twice per week, never consumes vegetables and exercises NEVER, and she stays 140lbs at 5’9″!!!! It just isn’t fair. I also post about all of my accomplishments hoping that I will start to believe my own press and feel better about my “athletic thickness” ! That’s why about mid way thru your post I had to get up and close the door to my office, so I could have my cry and get on with it.

    Thank you so much Meredith for being vulnerable and allowing us to share in your triumphs, badassery and meltdowns. I so need to know that there are other women that feel just like me and that it’s OK. Thank you for sharing your truth, perhaps it will give me and others the courage to share ours…the real truth, the unvarnished kind that uplifts:)
    Good luck tomorrow my friend. I will be rooting for you & the Expert 🙂

    Reply
  • Margaret

    October 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Your words ring true. Why is it we think that looking like Linsey Corbin will make us awesome? I too have been under the illusion that being 15 pounds lighter will some how make me: faster, better, nicer, calmer, confident?? And yet I have finished 6, yes that is 6, Ironman triathlons. When is enough going to be enough, for both of us and for all of us??

    Reply
  • Patty

    October 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Just recently came across your blog and I love it! I feel like you are writing what I would write (Starbucks obsessed and all) – if I had a blog!
    I am a big woman, have never been fast and just did my first Olympic tri this summer. I will also turn 53 in December. While I always think of the negatives, everyone around me finds me very inspiring. So I will keep plugging away and hopefully be the 80 year old still doing triathlons.

    You are very inspiring. Good luck this weekend. I can’t wait to read all about it.

    Reply
  • Tiina

    October 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Love reading this and this is exactly why you are one of my favorite people to read. It’s honest and easy to relate to. One of my biggest insecurities with starting tri was my body shape and having to wear so much form fitting spandex! But it’s about being strong. And about being better. I’m not articulating this well, but I applaud you 🙂

    Reply
  • Colleen

    October 21, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    i dont mean this in a creepy way, but i was showing my husband one of your instagram photos (not THAT one you speak of) to show him what you looked like (now that i am fully vested in this SBMAT thing). And I said “Isn’t she so pretty?” He agreed. You are gorgeous as you are, and more importantly, as you’ve written you have a body that kicks some serious ass. You are an Iron(wo)man… and you’re about to do that again. Amazing. Youre honesty, as always, is incredible to me. Can’t wait to hear about Saturday. Enjoy the ride!

    Reply
  • Beth

    October 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Thank you for always being honest and sharing your soul. I really love reading your blog because of your honesty, openness and vulnerability. When I saw your swimsuit photo I thought, “Wow, she looks great!” so it’s all a matter of perspective.
    You’re going to have a great race! Believe it, and it will be.

    Reply
  • Christen

    October 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    thanks for being real! You are so inspiring for so many – thank you for reminding me of all of my net gains! God speed to you this weekend!

    Reply
  • Cynthia

    October 21, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    You are going to kick the race’s ass this weekend. And after meeting you in person, I can vouch for your beauty – inside and out. There’s no perfect weight, there’s no perfect physique. You are stronger than anyone.

    Reply
  • Denise

    October 21, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Meredith, I looked at your photo and thought Damn, she looks great! Forgive me for saying this as a straight woman but you have a great backside! It’s amazing how we actually see ourselves so different than everyone else. I love, love love how honest you are and I hope to somedya do a half ironman. I’ve only done sprints and one OLY at which they cancelled the swim portion because of high bacteria content. I was so ready for the swim too even though I am a really slow swimmer and worried about the cut off time. I have panic attacks a lot in open water but never thinking of dead bodies! If I were you I would never get into a lake to swim where a dead body had been found! Kudos to you for doing it, twice! I am a homicide prosecutor and have seen my share of dead bodies, but no thanks! I don’t want to swim with one!! Good luck! I know you will do great. You’ve put in the work, now ENJOY!

    Reply
  • Carly

    October 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Sooooo I’m scared of whales too! Glad I’m not alone :). Seriously, great post, undoubtedly needed by many. You will be on mind this weekend as you kick ass at B2B!

    Reply
  • mandy zammit

    October 21, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    (Sydney Australia here!) Thanks for the post : i have a race this weekend that i have been looking forward to all year, except for the last four weeks: same issues: not at “raceweight” (by a long shot!), have been too stressed at work and home to train enough, and a few other issues mean that my head is not in the right space for this race… the timing of this post was great and maybe now by reading it a few more times i might be able to find my “happy place” for the race!

    Reply
  • nichole

    October 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    you have done the training, trust it! I totally get where you are coming from- I’m a big girl and I’ve been training for a trail 15k which this weekend. Last year I did the race and think I was third from last-but you know what- I finished. This year it would be nice to improve on my time, but I’m just going to try to enjoy the process (which is often easier said than done 🙂
    you inspire us all, really you do.

    Reply
  • Leanne

    October 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Good Luck on the weekend – all they way from Western Australia. I love your book and your blogs, it’s all so honest and from the heart.
    Would love to see you race Busselton, Western Australia (it might be an ocean swim (and you never know about the Sharks), but the run and the bike are flat, flat, flat)

    Reply
  • Lynn

    October 21, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Needed that. I did the same thing at Mary Alice this summer. I’ve had a fear of dead bodies in lakes since childhood….bad movie experience. I also have gained back 20 lbs. need to learn to love and learn some self control. Thanks girl! Have fun!

    Reply
  • Heather

    October 21, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    I think you are amazing in your writing, your honesty, your training, your drive, your persistance, etc. Thank you for being a motivator and role model.
    I see dead bodies when I swim too. (they have all been in my head…so far, thank God!)

    Reply
  • Margi

    October 21, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Meredith what a great post!! I was having many of the same feelings today as I looked in the mirror. I was like WTH is that? Is that a fat roll? I have seriously been slacking and am in Vancouver to run a half marathon with my daughter (her first) and my 74 year old mom. I was chastising myself for not staying in shape and worrying about how I will finish. After reading your post I realize that I should count my blessings (3 generations doing a half-marathon together :)) and stop with the body image stuff. You are a strong amazing woman who does more every single day than most women do in a week or a month. Be proud, be strong and get out
    there on Saturday and show that course exactly what you can do :):) Ill be cheering you from Vancouver.

    Reply
  • Ed C.

    October 21, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Great post! I too lost zero pounds in IM training this year. Disappointing but there is next year. I have finally allowed myself to call myself an athlete and it is because I am finally looking at my accomplishments, not my weight.

    Reply
  • Nicole

    October 22, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Cant wait to hear about the race… regardless of where you fall on your scale of how the day is going! You rock my socks off regardless 🙂

    Reply
  • Laura

    October 22, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Meredith, I think you look amazing, strong & fit. Every time you post a photo I think WOW she is looking great ! As always, your such and inspiration and thank you for sharing. RE: dead body in the lake….. freaks me out too 🙁

    Reply
  • Lisa Hemann

    October 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I almost skipped the Boulder Peak this year because I felt fat and am so grateful that I didn’t. It was a great race. For me I’ve figured out that I can’t lose weight while race training and so I’m devoting 4 months to a diet/weight loss focused life before serious training for IM Boulder. Best if luck to you, I’m sure you’ll be great!

    Reply
  • Lindsey

    October 23, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you! Thank you for having the courage to put your vulnerabilities out there. Thank you for being honest and keeping it “real.” Thank you for continuing to document the wild ride that is your daily life. Thank you for bridging the gap between tri-veteran and total newbie and making this triathlon thing so much more accessible for those of us beginning our journeys. And most of all, thank you for being your amazingly inspiring self. Because of you I have stopped being afraid to dream big. Really, really freaking big.

    Good luck this weekend, I’ll be cheering you on from DC and can’t wait to see how your day unfolds!!

    Reply

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