After a race, Coach Monster makes me talk about “things I’ve learned”. He didn’t ask me this after St. Anthony’s – I think because it was such a victory, me just finishing that. But recently, after Red Top Roaster Trail Run, after Acworth Sprint Tri, and after this past weekend’s Russell Oly Tri….he’s quizzed me over the phone.
“What did you learn from the race over the weekend?” he asked me for the first time after Red Top.
I jiggled the phone nervously and thought for a minute. “That I am way fatter than I thought?” I asked.
I heard him clear his throat, sigh and say, “No. Try again.”
“I have got to improve my run pace? By, like, alot?”
Silence. “Get in line for the potties much sooner?”
More silence. “Okay. So what are you looking for?” I question.
Deep down, I knew what he meant. He wanted to hear the guts, the actual triathlon tidbits that will improve me as a baby triathlete and as a person. But learning experiences have never been my forte. I usually deal with all of my life experiences in one of two ways:
1) FIGHT: You suck. But I’m staying…and you are outta here.
2) FLIGHT: You suck and I am out of here
You may say, well, duh – that’s every person’s choice: fight or flight. But that is so not so. What about floundering, frolicking, or falling? Freaking, flailing or fumbling? See? Lots of choices, other than fight or flight. I have known way too many flounderers. I am not a fan of flounder.
So, as I’m talking to Coach Monster, I don’t know what to say at first. Triathlon can’t really be divided into my two life scenarios of fight or flight. Or can it?
Oh, of course, it can.
- I must continue moving forward (even if it’s crawling). Moving forward may seem like “flight” – but it’s not. The push and the pain… that’s fight. Races teach me to suck it up, keep going, no matter who told me “good luck with that” or raised their skinny little eyebrows at me (oh, my favorite… my favorite!). I fight. I stay. I just move forward. Fight.
- Kick away the self-doubt. Bat it away, fight it, push it out of my mind. When the bad mother creeps in, I show her what a bad mother can be. I fight.
- I fight the waves, the water, my goggles, my swimcap, the swimmers around me, the bad buoys, the sunlight, my clipless pedals, transition, my wet socks, my gears, my helmet, my shoes, the hills, the turns, the “on your lefts!”, the blisters, the dehydration, the GU packets, the rocks, the dirt, the pavement, my shoes, and my own horribly, uncooperative body. Fight.
- I fight the urge to cry. Every race. When I am so moved by the heroes in the race, when I see the impossible become possible, or just when I am overcome with gratitude for the opportunity to be alive, to be outside, and to be covered in Grace. Sometimes, I lose it and just cry. Then other times, I feel like I can’t run another 12:30 pace step. So I cry. But usually if I think of the heroes and not my tired legs, I cry less from the tired legs and more from the motivation. Either way, I try not to cry so much. Fight the waterworks.
- I often fight with the Expert, especially when we are running ridiculously late for an event. Ha. Oh, come on. That was obviously going to be a part of this list.
- As Eminem says: “While you’re in it, try and get as much…as you can, and when your run is over, just admit when it’s at its end.” Really. When it’s really over, then time to close the gate and fly away home.
Triathlon. It’s about the fight. Perhaps, if you’re really fast… then arguably, you fly. But I still say… you mostly fight.
As for me? I’m more of the flightless bird type. One with really sharp talons… and super bird mental games. Or something like that. A fighting bird. A tubby little fighting chicken.