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The Old Voice Inside My Head

“There’s an old voice inside my head that’s keeping me awake…
tell her that I miss our little talks.”
– Of Monsters & Men

I sat down to write a post. Then I thought, “I have nothing to write about.  Nothing to say.”  But once I wrote, “I have nothing to say” then I started rambling and I realized that I have more issues than shoes. Whew.

For the past few days, I have been a little down.  Not really feeling sorry for myself, because I don’t usually lean that way—-just down. Blue. Fearful. Things I had hoped would be in place at this time are not.  I am not where I’d hoped to be.  And it’s nobody’s fault but my own. And my own two feet.

I know, baby girl. That's how I feel too.

I know, baby girl. That’s how I feel too.

A big part of the triathlon journey, I think, is learning to focus on what my body can do —and to completely ignore the ugly voices in my head telling me what I can’t do.  (I can’t run fast. I can’t bike fast…. maybe not, but I CAN run and I CAN bike…so that should be my story.)

I am working on ingraining this into my head right now, because the almost-thirty-days-until-race-day factor is pounding in my head like a drum.


I mean, when you think about Ironman… it’s incomprehensible. Really. 2.4 miles, 112 miles, 26.2 miles.  Who can do that? Well, apparently many people. Some can do it very fast. So starting from the premise that I am attempting something that’s kind of silly to begin with…that I’m doing it in my non-running-ability, overweight body… then, I just invite a ton of room for self-doubt and well, sometimes self-mockery (“You dumb silly fat girl” is my favorite self-mockery. And there’s always “Fatty Fatty Two by Four,” though I haven’t heard that in my head in a while.)

But yes, there’s stuff bouncing around in my head.

14 miles done. Now I am going to sleep here in Life Time. On this foam roller. Nite y'all.

I should have been down another 20 pounds by now.

I should have run more – I can’t believe I’m going into this Ironman having only my highest milege run being 14 miles—and that was over 6 weeks ago.IMG_0366

What am I thinking.  This is insane.

All these little negative voices. Rumblings. Complainings. Whinings.  None of this is new for me. It’s a constant struggle of mine.

Especially when I have so so so much to be thankful for.

Then, I made the mistake of reading race reports on blogs from last year’s Ironman Coeur d’Alene.  I found my heart literally racing… and I was holding my breath. I read reports of DNFs (did not finish) and the reasons why the writers didn’t finish… the bike cutoff, the swim.  Then my favorite:  “I’m not sure what happened. All I know is that I didn’t finish.”  (What?!)

Race reports = bad idea.


One thing Coach Monster reminds me (almost daily at this point), is that rarely does someone go into an Ironman feeling 100% awesome, prepared enough, or super healthy.  So my theory is that approximately 90% of the people standing on the shore of the race will have a pain somewhere on their body, a doubt in their head and a fluttering in their stomach.  The other 10% (who feel awesome) are actually aliens.

So the old voice inside my head… I am telling her that I do NOT miss our little talks.  (This was Coach M’s advice too. Yes, with the song lyrics.)


And my dear Expert… he’s so supportive. He’s at the point where he’s encouraging me every day—because I think he sees the wild look in my eyes, and is witnessing me attempting to self-destruct myself into Ironman oblivion..and he’s not letting me do it, knocking food out of my hands and the like. And I love him dearly for that. I need his support right now more than he can possibly imagine. I am leaning so heavily on him…even if he can’t feel it yet… he will.


So for the next thirty days, I will focus on what I can do. I will lean on those who are here to support me. I will pray. I will be grateful (because I am!). I will dream. I will wear a mustache if I need to. And that’s all I can (literally) do.



  • Leslie Livingstone

    May 22, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Meredith, Thank you for this. I needed this today more than you can know. I am 9 days from my first tri. I have not been able to run in 2 weeks fighting a hip flexor strain. I have spent 9 months in some sort of training. I know in my head I have a solid base, but the emotions take ahold of me. I am learning this is as much a mental game as a physical one. I wish you luck at CDA. You are strong and you can do it. Thank you for sharing the hard stuff, makes me feel like I am not alone. T minus 9 days. Run Walk or Crawl.

  • Ellen Mahoney

    May 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    rock on. You read my mind this morning. I was feeling low… havn’t raised nearly the money I did last year for the Tri for a Cure, not really training that regularly, working too much, single parenting too much (husband traveling too much) doubting too much…
    Two weeks ago my cousing died of cancer, my first husband recently diagnosed with brain cancer… too much family history to list. this mornig I posted I’m feeling like a fair weather triathlete in this grey, cold wet Maine May. My friend and tri buddy and survivir friend Vanessa urged me out the door. 4 miles later I feel better.
    just for today I did the best I could. While on the backshore of my tiny little MAine island I saw a neighbor who is battling metatastic pancreatic cancer the same thing that took my cousin and my mother.
    Just for today I have to good fortune to choose to suck it up and train… for all of those in my life who cannot. Thanks for your courage.
    xox ellen peaks island maine

  • Michelle

    May 22, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Okay… so I’m not ever going to do an Ironman. Not even a tri or a sprint tri. Heck! I may not ever even make it through a 5K fun run but you are an inspiration to me and so many others who are not perfectly athletic, not at their perfect weight (or maybe not even terribly close to it… ahem… speaking only for myself here), and not at a perfect place in their lives to focus on fitness. Yet, we can all still take on HUGE endeavors and meet goals we’ve set out! Keep it up!!!

  • Debbie

    May 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Ha ha!! The 10% who feel awesome are aliens!! Yes yes they are!! That was the best line in your post. Aliens….. Oh how we long to be aliens. Your gracefulness will get you thru your ironman. Is there a way for to track you, or is the finish line going to be live streamed?

  • Emily

    May 22, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Only 14 miles i would love to say. that i am up to pnly a mile.okay here is my pep talk to you. Right now you are physically further than you were two years ago when your journey began you are strong and can do this. You are inspiration to many women and me. I don’t have a coach monster I live in too rural of an area to have one near by so I use your blog as a guide. The old monsters are hard to fight but don’t let them win don’t define yourself by a number on the scale define who you are by what you have accomplished and are accomplishing.

  • Deb

    May 22, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    First time commenting on one of your posts, but I’ve been following your journey for quite a while. Last year I trained for my first marathon. Granted only 1/3 of an Ironman, but it was my Ironman – I was doing something I never thought I could take on. I was nervous and scared because I had gotten hurt and sick during training and things didn’t go as planned. A week prior to the race I was down and not certain I would finish, but the following thought went through my head: you’re not where you wanted to be, but you’re where you are: stay within yourself and you can make it work. And that’s what I did. I stayed within myself; I worked within the framework my training provided; I stopped comparing myself to others; I remembered who I was and where I was; I raced; I enjoyed the experience; I finished. Hope that helps.

  • Sarah C

    May 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    for some reason your post today made me think about who my biggest inspiration is (in triathlon terms). I realized that it wasn’t any of the pro’s. It’s a woman I met in my first Tri club down in FL who had wanted to do a full IM for years. Something always got in the way. Last year she just decided to do it, regardless of what was in her way that year (happened to be a pretty bad injury, she couldn’t run). She walked the entire 26.2. WALKED. THE WHOLE THING. The kind of mental toughness that takes is what makes her my tri hero, not how fast she ran or biked or where she placed, etc. That’s what I think about when I read your posts. You’ve got that.

  • Meme

    May 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    It was almost as if you were inside of my head this morning.
    I openly embrace the fact that I will never run further than 10 miles because my knees start to inflate by mile 3! But I swim like a fish, and bike with a furver that is unlimited!

    I too beat myself up with my own internally self destructive voice. Well….I had to tell her to STHU this morning…in 11 days I compete in my second tri of this season. I have a fear of the ocean and have resigned myself to meeting this fear face to face and competing in the Escape The Cape Spring Tri. I know I can swimvery well. I know I can swim more than the distance required. I know I will make it back to shore. But I too read the race report, and all I comprehended was the negative. “tide will be against us” “water temp predicted to be colder end of 55-75” and my fav “don’t dive/jump onto those already in the water” … SMH … Confirmation that my friends are correct! I am crazy!!!

    Your journey is accomplished and encouraged so many. Particularly me!

    You have the
    Courage to Tri
    Strength to Endure and
    Resolve to Finish

    [insert white girl arm circle dance and head boping]
    Sending oodles of positivity and a happy booga booga dance your way from the DrtyJrz!!!!

  • AMB

    May 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    If you haven’t ready Chrissie Wellington’s book, even she says she arrives at the starting line with pain and she’s a pro. Why should you be any different? To do this support requires us to put ourselves through torture to even ge to the starting line, let alone though the race. We can’t ever total feel prepared, only prepare for the unexpected and to deal with that. You’re putting in the time. Have faith. And stop calling yourself names. You wouldn’t say those things to me, so why should you say them to yourself!

  • Allyson

    May 22, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I am registered for a half IM at the end of Aug and lately I am wondering if I can do it or not. I know that if I think I can’t, then I won’t so I try to stay positive. Whatever happens all I can do is control my box and in my box is my training, my mind and body and my support system. If I do that I am a success, whatever happens, you will be too.

  • Kristen

    May 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Meredith, our hormones must be in sync! I have been feeling really down since Friday…why am I doing all this training? I mean really, cmon! You really think you’re doing to do a half Iron next year? and a full iron in 2015? yea, right…I dug back into your book and blog and realized that probably every athlete feels this way at one time or another. We never think we’re ready OR we never think we’re good enough to do this. But man, you are awesome! You keep so many people motivated, including me! I’m feeling better today and just finished a 35-min bike drill workout on the trainer and a 10-min run after. You will ROCK CDA!
    Oh, and by the way, thanks to your motivation and the guidance of my coach, I’ve officially lost 125.4 lbs from my all time high – 100 in 2011 after gastric bypass surgery and 25.4 since February – tri training with my coach. I’m not ashamed to tell you I’m at 213.4 – ONEderland is finally within sight!!! I’m so freakin excited, and I couldn’t have done it without you! So thanks!

  • Erin

    May 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    I hope you read all these comments because I have a story to tell you. Running is hard for me. But I do it, because I love it. I never thought I would do a full marathon, but I was inspired to sign up for Chicago this past Oct. Then my cousins and I wanted to Run the Disney Marathon together in January. So before I even ran my first, I was signed up for my second only 4 months later. While training for Disney I hurt my foot. My longest run was 16 miles and that was 7 weeks before the race. I did a couple of 2 hour workouts (elliptical, spin bike, walk/run) before the race, but my time from Chicago was 4:52 so I knew it would take even longer to finish the race. I kept waiting for someone to give me an out, but no one did. The Dr. said there was no real injury and I could run. It would hurt, but I wasn’t doing any damage by running. I had the exact same thoughts. What in the hell am I thinking? Like I’m going to be able to run 26.2 miles at the marathon when I can’t run 5 (walk / run actually) without foot pain! This is crazy! I wanted to throw in the towel, stop stressing about it and walk away. But the race was paid for, the plane tickets were bought, and I was Alice (my cousins were dressing as the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and the Chesire Cat). So, I thought, I am going to go and start. Whatever happens, happens. But I am going to start. I only have to go 26.2 miles one time on one day. If I can do it, I will. And I did! My foot started really bothering me around mile 10, but it was bearable. Race day endorphins kept me going. That, and my inability to let myself down. My time was 5:45 and it was almost one whole hour slower than Chicago, but I am SO proud of myself for finishing. I am even more proud of myself for starting. I am in awe of the amount of training you have done for this IM. You have an amazing base. I know you know this. You will start and you will finish and you will be SO PROUD! All of this crap that you are going through right now will make it all the more sweet! Just keep trucking along, you’ve got this!

  • Kelly

    May 22, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Just remember…its 90% mental!! Or something like that 🙂
    Whether you think you can or can’t…you are right!
    Go get em Mer!!


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