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Quitter’s Alley

On our first mission to an Olympic distance race, back in 2011, the Expert and I would ride a relatively flat trail outside of Atlanta, the Silver Comet trail. Many eventful things have happened on this trail during the past two+ years of training: Andy’s first bike wreck, the broken rib episode, my re-addiction to Diet Coke thanks to Yoda and Iron Diva, some insect stings, some muddy buns, and some very, very cold, rainy, wind and hot, long rides.

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Muddy buns. Case in point.

There is a stretch of the trail, about 8 miles heading back to the parking lot, that the Expert calls “Quitter’s Alley.”

Quitter’s Alley was nicknamed this for a few reasons.

First, because the first time he, the Expert, was back on his road bike (after about a 10 year hiatus ), he threw a complete fit and we had a huge fight at Quitter’s Alley.

“I can’t believe you are making me do this crap!” he screamed at me.  “I quit!”

“Well, you are a quitter!” I hollered back.

“Oh, that’s a good one!” he hissed, “Did you go to law school for that?”

Turns out the Expert had bonked. He was mad. He quit. Right on the side of the trail, a place with a little ditch, a mild incline, and a little stream.

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One of my favorites. The Expert. Circa 2001.

The next event was a mere week later.  This time it was me. The Expert had his fuel and his mojo, and I was the one who threw my bike down on the side of the trail, right into the running water in the mini-ditch.

“Look at those tears, running down Quitter’s Alley,” he laughed at me.

“Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!” I shouted.

“You’re gonna let Quitter’s Alley win?”

It wasn’t funny (for either of us, on either day), but as we got stronger and faster, Quitter’s Alley became funny.  Quitter’s Alley now shows up on most any ride, no matter where it is.  All we need is: 1) a hard day, and 2) a moving stream, ditch or indention in the road.  It’s a portable Quitter’s Alley.

Yesterday, was not funny.  I had a hard ride, I found Quitter’s Alley and I laid down in it. I let Quitter’s Alley win.

After yesterday’s post about me quitting triathlon, I turned off my computer and my phone. I was at Monkey Joe’s (one of those indoor bouncy-play centers) with the kids when I wrote that post, and my laptop battery died right around the time of “publish.”

So I turned it off, and didn’t recharge it.

Then I put my phone in my work bag, and left it there for the rest of the night (but not before texting with Yoda, Sweet Red, and my mother—confirming that I was “mostly okay.”)

I put everything away, mostly because I didn’t want to read any mean things, and I wasn’t prepared for seeing pitchforks: “YOU QUITTER! You’re QUITTING??? I started this triathlon mess BECAUSE OF YOU!!!!”  [Oooops.]

I was overwhelmed and tired.

And I won’t lie… the subsequent jump off the wagon and face-first into some cheesy, margarita Mexican dinner (mmmmmmm…..) with the kiddos and the Saint Expert… it was delicious.  After some solid kid snuggles and with a full belly of bad food, I proceeded to feel sorry for myself.

Full disclosure. It wasn't pretty. But it was delicious.

Full disclosure. It wasn’t pretty. But it was delicious.

About 8:30, right before I knocked out to bed, I reached out to one of my best friends, to check on her.

I knew that her dad was not doing well.  But I was not prepared for the news…that she had said her last goodbyes, and they were all preparing for the end.

The end.

The end of a life.

And it all came clear to me.  How many lessons must I learn before I figure it out?  How many?

Each day is a blessing.  Each day that I can train for an Ironman, I should be thankful.

#Truth.

I love this sport.  This sport has changed my life. There is a point to it, there is beauty in the training, in the struggle, in the pain. In the trips down Quitter’s Alley.

But Quitter’s Alley is not my home.  I have signed up for this race, because I am alive. I am a different person since finding triathlon… and I owe it to myself to find out what this person is made of.

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Needing a motivating song? “Everybody get’s knocked down…but how quick are you gonna get up?”

Thank you all for your support. Thank you. Thank you.

Today, I read through each and every email, comment on Twitter, Facebook, and the post from yesterday.  Thank you all so much for all your words of encouragement, wisdom and thoughts.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude, humility and faith in finishing this Ironman… a few words I couldn’t say yesterday at this time.  And I owe you all a great big thank you.

Just a few comments to close out:

1)  I am not quitting. Not today. Quitter’s Alley doesn’t get to claim me.

2) My Ironman is in 132 days. 4 months and 12 days…

3) Super thanks to a SBM dude friend, Bradly, who posted the Rocky Balboa picture on the Facebook page.  Flowers and princesses, I may not understand. But Rocky Balboa, I do. Word.

4) Saint Expert gets a lot of the credit for keeping me out of Quitter’s Alley permanently. He was an incredible support over the weekend. No only with his awesome Swim Bike Dad-ly ways, for the loads of laundry and floors cleaned while I was spending hours training…but also for being a strong wall for me to lean up against yesterday. Love.

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4) And finally…my coach is a wonderful coach. He has a method that many may not agree with—but he’s never failed me. And he’s not unmoveable. Obviously, a break-down like yesterday is reason for a re-eval, which he put into motion immediately. But I cannot imagine crossing the finish line with another coach. So thank you all for the offers and advice regarding my coaching, coachability and training plan… but I’m sticking with the coach who has already made the impossible….possible…

And when Coach M called me for the second time this morning, and said, “How are you doing today?”

I was able to smile—my hair wet from the swim I just completed–and then say, “I’ll call you later. I’m actually on the treadmill right now.”

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And I could feel the smile on his face, shining through the phone… And I know I’m going to be just fine. Maybe not perfect, but fine.

Despite my pain last night, I had packed a gym bag for this morning. And I woke up at 5:30, and I did it all over again…

Why?

Because I knew that today, I would be able to swim, bike and run.

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And therefore, I would.

43 Comments

  • Sarah F

    February 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    And today is another day….. I thought it might be and I’m so GLAD for you that it is. The hard days are hard, but they’re only days. Each day we get to wake up and start over again is a blessing. Enjoy the journey.

    Reply
  • Sarah C

    February 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    You always hear so much about how the toughest part of this sport is mental, and I’ve never really understood that, because it seemed like the physical stuff was tough enough. But your posts yesterday and today really helped me understand the mental rigors of triathlon and how strong you have to be mentally to do it. Thanks so so so much to you for your honesty and realness.

    Reply
  • Sue

    February 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!! for being so open with your struggles. It helps me more than you know to read about your bad days as well as your good days with triathlon. You do the best you can with what you’ve got – even if some days totally suck, it was what you had to give on that particular day, and you gave it. I admire that a lot. May you have a very long string of non-suckish days ahead. 🙂

    Reply
  • Mary Sue

    February 11, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks for the perspective. I was well on my way to “Quitter’s Alley” after a not so great bike ride on Saturday. This post was just what I needed. And I’m so glad you’re back on board today, too!

    Reply
  • Emily

    February 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    You make me so proud- you’d think I was your mother! 🙂 But I really appreciate your candor, and I know I benefit from it every time I ready your blog. Thanks for being you!

    Reply
  • Amy

    February 11, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Ugh, the mental stuff seems worse than the physical, right? I’m not ready for Ironman or even a marathon, as I am not mentally tough- and even when I am ready, I know it will be hard. We all have bad runs, bad training days, injuries, setbacks, or plain old blah days. You are one of the strongest, most diligent, most persistent persons I’ve (not yet!) met. You will finish the race.

    Reply
  • Andrea

    February 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I showed yesterday’s post to my 16 yoa daughter. She was so touched by it. When she was done reading, she said, “Ahhh….no! She can’t quit!” She will be glad to you know you’re back in the saddle again!

    Thanks for all your inspiration!

    Reply
  • Kim Possible

    February 11, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    When it all sucks, I think of my “wilson” , the screws and plate in my foot. The months I sat growing bone not able to move.I was pretty sure I’d never run again……but I can, and I’m better and faster than before. And now I really appreciate it all so much more! Get it girl!!

    Reply
  • Jana R.

    February 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Now THAT is the way to kick quitting’s butt! You are awesome, you have it within you, I am so inspired!! Tough training days happen, but they are moments, and moments pass. I’m so glad you didn’t get dragged down into a bad moment…you gave it its due and moved right on. You GO girl!

    Reply
  • Heidi

    February 11, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Woo-hoo! So happy to hear you pushed through this little bump in the road! Hang tough SBM! You are an inspiration to many of us! We all have these days…it may not be the last one you face, but the important thing is you pushed through! Thank you for sharing your triumphs as well as your struggles. Best of luck on your training! So proud of you!

    Reply
  • Txcristen

    February 11, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    My favorite part was your admission of the mexican food indulgence. Its my go-to self-punishment as well when I’m not feeling like I’m worthy for triathlon. Its so bad its good. Or the other way around?

    We. Are. Worthy.

    Reply
  • TriBabe Terry

    February 11, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Woot woot! Glad you got back in the gym. I was thinking about you this morning when I tried to talk myself out of going to the gym at 4:30 am. But, I said I need to do this – just like you told yourself this morning. We all have days we want to quit, but it’s how we handle them that makes us awesome. You are a badass!

    Reply
  • Heather Harrison

    February 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    So grateful for you, your struggles, your honesty and your ability to see the important things around you. I have had some set backs lately and between your “Embrace the Suck” and my coaches “you have to learn to be uncomfortable” I will get to the start line of Lake Tahoe Ironman! Ironman is already what you are when you reach race day! #neverquit #ironstrong #HOOYAH #cantstop

    Reply
  • Blake Casares

    February 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I knew you’d be back! I was thinking about you – thank you for being so honest! This is not easy and takes a very strong person to be an IM! Way to go!

    Reply
  • Andrea

    February 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    I knew you weren’t quitting! Somedays we just have bad days but there is always tomorrow. A brand new day.

    Maybe this weekend was bad for many. I bailed on a swim after 500 yards yesterday because of a headache that wouldn’t quit. Just didn’t have it in me. This morning I got up & got in 1600 before work. Felt great!

    Sometimes we just need a good sleep & perspective.

    Reply
  • Jennifer

    February 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    I didn’t get a chance to respond Sunday or yesterday thanks to daughter’s strep throat, but I was thinking about how to word my encouragement throughout my (nearly) 8 mile run on Sunday. I had no doubt that you would get back to the grind of Ironman training, and I have no doubt that in 132 days I will be checking your progress at C’oeur D’Alene on whatever app you tell me to download. But I did want to tell you that it is OKAY if you don’t. It would be OKAY if you decided that half-irons (or Olympics or Sprints) are really your limit given the other demands on your time, and given the incredible physical and mental toll full Ironman training takes. One of the things that keeps Type A people like you and me on the couch instead of doing triathlons (or whatever) is this sense of “All or Nothing.” If we can’t get the full workout in, we’ll stay home. If we can’t train for the next step up in distance, we decide to quit. Believe me, I get wanting to graduate to the next step. But one of the great things that your Swim Bike Mom movement has done is to remind people that you don’t have to do Ironmans to be a triathlete. ANYONE can be a triathlete, at ANY distance. Sometimes it’s OKAY to just have fun training while still getting plenty of sleep. So do what you can and WANT to do, and don’t feel like you’re letting us — or yourself — down if you find that this particular goal is not in the cards right now.

    Reply
  • Ed C.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Awesome! It is picking ourselves up after self doubt that makes us each so strong. I can completely relate to what you are experiencing. You will be an Ironman and revel in what you have overcome! Keep it up!

    Reply
  • Cheryl Donnelly

    February 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    You are so inspiring!!! My goal is to do an Olympic this summer, a full is not even on my radar but I am so in awe of the struggles and the time you are devoting to this journey! You are so human and I love that!!

    Reply

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