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Dusting Yourself (Myself) Off

I messaged my coach this morning: I don’t think I want to do Ironman Louisville.

Why?

Because I damn near DNF’d Lake Placid, and I don’t feel like reliving that.

Stop it.  [To which, I wanted to respond, “NO YOU STOP IT!” like a five year-old. And stick out my tongue.]

Okay, I will stop. [Then I did stick my tongue out at phone].

Please do.

How did I get here?  I don’t know.

The two Ironman year is intense, sure.  And somewhere along the way, I have lost track of what it means to be a triathlete–and by that, I mean a triathlete–not an Ironman.

I have lost touch with the fact that when I go to the gym and I run 3 miles on the treadmill at a PR pace, that it is something to be PROUD of–and I don’t need to listen to the shit in my head.  And you wouldn’t believe the stuff inside my head. MAN. I am mean.

Yeah, you may be PR’ing that treadmill, but you can’t even RUN, really.

Who says that?

Ironman is wonderful. But it is a serious mind you-know-what.  You really do lose touch with reality.  The bar set for the triathlon “norm” is skewed and raised. No longer is a “long run” six or seven miles. It’s like fifteen miles or three hours, or whatever.  A long ride is no longer three hours… it’s six or seven. And like 100 miles.

And that is fifty shades of stupid.

We have some family staying with us, and they asked me this morning, “How far did you just run?” …to which I responded, “Just three miles.”

I coulda slapped myself across the face.  Just three miles??!?  JUST?

I wanted to scream AT MYSELF, “Three miles?! Let me tell you about three miles! Three miles is a LONG WAY TO RUN! And hard! And it never seems to get easier, because just when you think it is—you try to go FASTER–so that makes THREE MILES hard again! Three miles is Hard. As. Shit.”

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Right now, I am down on myself because I still have an hour and a half bike to complete at some point during my free time today, and I haven’t.  So I feel like crap.

Total mind numbing stupid crap.

But I think, at the end of the day, all these monkeys in my head come down to FEAR.

Someone sent me an email about getting pulled from the bike on their half Ironman race. They were looking for words of wisdom about how to dust off and “just keep moving forward.”

The same question applies to me right now, really… sending the text to Coach Brett this morning.  Why don’t I want to do Louisville?  Why do I find each workout so hard?  Pure and simple fear.

We’re scared that we are going “fail” again.

And please note that “fail” is widely defined here.  The “failures” we see are in our own heads. Getting pulled off the bike course during a half iron is actually not a failure–it’s just what occurred.  It also means that you just also completed a 1.2 mile swim.  It means that you biked further than probably 90% of the population can.  I finished IM Lake Placid before midnight (success), but did not have near the race I wanted (perceived failure).

All perception. All kind of silly, really.

So as I go into my ramping up for Louisville, I guess I am feeling FEAR.  I think that’s what most of us go through when the big goal creeps nearer…

As we try to pull ourselves over and above the prior “failures,” we are simply scared.

What if I “fail” again?  What if I don’t finish? What if I hurt myself? What if I hurt someone else? 

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The funny thing is that I don’t have any real advice about how to dust off and move foward and hurdle the fear… except to just do it.

Physically force yourself to lace up the shoes, get on the bike, and go.   That’s always my advice…. make the move.

Show up. Do the workouts scheduled.  

Show up again.  Do more.  

When you quit and give up, don’t beat yourself up. [But next time don’t be a quitter.] 

Show up again.  Do even more.

Show up. Push harder.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Eventually, the mojo gains momentum, and you’re suddenly on some sort of roll.  As you tick off the workouts, the fear diminishes and in its place?

Confidence.

At least that’s how it happens for me.  Make the body go.  Eventually, the mind goes too, and everyone is plugging along.  The fear monster goes away…

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And that’s my story. So I’ll stick to it.

Now… onward to Louisville. Right?  Right.

26 Comments

  • Laurie Bennett

    August 19, 2015 at 9:55 am

    On your advice, we keep moving forward!!
    You had a bad race! You finished!
    Onto the next adventure!
    You can do this, you HAVE done this!!!!
    It gets in your head but beat it down because you can do this and you know you can!
    Look at what happened in LP and make the chances of this happening again lower!
    You prepare for everything, you got this!!!!
    Keep moving forward!
    You inspire us to keep moving forward and in turn I inspire someone and the ball is rolling!!!
    You got this!!!

    Reply
  • Alicia Amaro

    August 19, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Once again you wrote the thoughts that have been circling in my head. Although I’m not gearing up for another tri until next year I have a couple of half marathons and a full left on the calendar for this year. I have time goals and lately I struggle to get out and run. I keep telling myself I’m not going to get faster if I don’t put in the miles and push myself. “But it’s hard and I’m tired. Wahhh!” Thanks Meredith this is what I needed to read this morning. Dusting myself off and getting the monkeys out of my head.

    Alicia

    Reply
  • Anna

    August 19, 2015 at 10:09 am

    I so needed to hear this today! I am doing IMLou as well (it’s my first!!) and fear is creeping up as it is getting closer. My only fear is the swim. I know I can tackle the bike and deal with the run; it’s just getting through the water. I just had a horrible swim workout last night….I was facing some serious fear monsters in my head. I will try again tomorrow in the pool and work on casting those fears away!

    Reply
  • Beth

    August 19, 2015 at 10:10 am

    You also have to remember that this is a totally different race, course, weather conditions, etc., and to note, you are a lot smarter, wiser, knowledgeable since Lake Placid. Use Placid as a learning opportunity to do better or different for Louisville. I am confident this will be a much different race and with a better outcome. Go kick butt!

    Reply
  • Laura

    August 19, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Why do we beat ourselves up so much mentally? We would never think of physically punishing ourselves with flogging so why mentally flog ourselves? It’s been hard for me to learn not to beat myself up over every perceived failure or shortcoming, but getting older and less physically capable has forced me to re-evaluate my reactions. Yes I am very much afraid of getting pulled off the bike at IMCHOO. I am terrified that I won’t make the 12:00 run cutoff if I survive the bike cutoff. Then again, a younger me would never have taken on this challenge at all simply because of that fear of failure (a younger me would have equated not winning with failure). Now I see what a positive influence the training has had on my life and health and know that I have won just by making the commitment to train. 3 miles is a hard run. 60 miles is a hard bike ride. 140.6 is insane but getting there is a fun trip 🙂

    Reply
  • Dolores

    August 19, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I feel these exact same thoughts although I have never done an IM or even a HIM. I am fearful the pain in my hips and knees are telling me “stop” you shouldn’t be doing this much or this hard. But my heart tells me to be a runner. My body and brain tell me no. I hate, hate when I say “just!” I feel grumpy when I am not moving forward and that mood is compounded when my body hurts. So what do I do? Sign up for a HIM! BOOM! Take that you sorry old body and move! Move out of my way! Now to find a foam roller….

    Reply
  • Maura

    August 19, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Seems no matter where we are on the journey and how much we accomplish, we falter, get sidetracked and need an occasional “reset”. We forget where we started, how much we have done, physically and in life. This post was an good reminder to just keep moving in a positive direction. You can, we can.

    Reply
  • Sara

    August 19, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Nail. Head. Bam! I do not know at what point a 3 mile run became a failure or a 17 mile bike ride was not enough. Or when a 1 mile swim 2 times a week was slacking… I try my best every workout and sometimes my best is less than my average, but it is better than not trying at all. I have a sprint tri this weekend and am confident. I have a hilly Oly in 4 weeks and I am worried- not because I am fearful of completing it- but fearful I wont be as fast as I want to be. I need to get over that and just be thankful I can complete it! As a side note, my laundry fell below the suck line but at least my SBM kit is ready for Sunday. 🙂

    Reply
  • Alex

    August 19, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Thank you for sharing. I’m obviously not a woman but just want you to know that you are not alone. Just keep moving forward that is all we need to do. . True Failure is when we stop learning from our mistakes. You are, we are true triathletes, we don’t let our hickups slow us down we continue to push and push one foot at a time. I will see you in Louisville. .

    Reply
  • Lindsey

    August 19, 2015 at 11:53 am

    OMG, get out of my brain!! I’ve been carrying around a major funk this entire training plan but couldn’t really articulate what was causing it. The truth is that Raleigh 70.3 was such an amazing day that I’m terrified that B2B, or any future 70.3, will only serve to taint that memory. I crossed that finish line with a time I’d envisioned only in my wildest fantasies and felt like the rockiest rock star who ever rocked a star. So how can I possibly have a better race at B2B? What if everything goes right and I still don’t hit my time goals?

    The rational answer,obviously, is to remind myself that the success is in the journey and to trust that more intense training will leave more well prepared, but let’s face, we didn’t become triathletes by being rational.

    Reply
  • Sandra Laflamme

    August 19, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I so get this! We are all so tough on ourselves. Sometimes it can be so hard when goals are not met even though the achievement is a monumental task completed anyways. It can be hard to get back up on that horse again. I love your advice and when its hard yes, sometimes you just have to suck it up and push through it even harder. You will do it and you will be proud!

    Reply
  • Donna

    August 19, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    It is likely you’ll get tired of my comments always saying, “you are not alone.” It’s tue though, you’re not. and posts like this just slap me in the face with hard resonance. Oiy, Ouch. Ugh! Yes!

    At least you keep going.. I let the funk get to me for the last 10 months. Outwardly I don’t feel like I”m going to fail, but I suppose inside the truth is different… even if I don’t care to admit it. I desperately want to re-ignite that fire I had for my first IM at FL, but it’s been a challenge…. which I don’t completely understand, for something I dream about; something I can’t go a day without thinking about!

    Keep at it — I do believe you’re right. If you make your body do it, the mind will follow. I will take that away with me this weekend as I do my first “long” 3 mile run in 10 months. LOL

    On a side note, I am super excited to do Swim Bike Fuel, and am hopeful that if my body feels better when I drag my arse out to workout, that my mind will follow more quickly.

    Reply
  • Ally Chisnall

    August 19, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Fear of Failure, yes I know it well. It was what kept me chasing the cut off times on Sunday and I won!!! A few times I thought fear would win but in the end I pulled through. Sometimes fear can drive us to do things we did not think we could, I know because the fear of failure, fear of missing the midnight cut off made me run my fastest 5k of the whole marathon at the end, after I had swum 3.8k, biked 180k and run 38.2k. Feel the fear and do it anyway, it is tough to do but sometimes the reward is so worth it.

    Reply
  • Dawn

    August 19, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    I never want to forget how I felt after my first-ever triathlon this past Sunday. I was damned near last place both overall and in my age ground it took all I had in me to finish, but I did and I felt like I’d conquered the world or won the big lottery.. I never want to forget how proud I am that I accomplished a goal, no matter in what place I finished…it didn’t matter that it was *just* a sprint tri, but I remember celebrating the finish of every workout leading up to it and I never want to lose that. If I am ever blessed to be able to get to an Ironman, I want to be able to dig deep and recall how I felt this past weekend and all of the events leading up to it because I know that is what would be critical in getting me to that finish line in the middle of the night. The night before my tri, I read the story of your first one again as the last thing I did before nodding off to sleep as “soul fuel” for the next day. It’s really easy once we are so far removed from the beginning of a journey to remember what it was like in the beginning…I think that is why people say to “look at things with the eyes of a child”. I think that is why your story resonates with me so much is because you have the ability to understand when you need to do that to help turn fear into confidence. The eyes of a child not just look with an innocence and appreciation for the present moment, but also a fearlessness that we somehow lose along the way as we learn to “adult”.

    Reply
  • Sandy

    August 19, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    My friend shared this with me today. I am totally fried from training. It is not fun anymore and I am questioning going into my second half this season. My first was a complete train wreck.
    You are completely right about the fear. It haunts me. My coach has told me to take a few days off from training to regroup. Hoping to put the fire back in me. Thanks for writing this. It’s so good to know you are not alone.

    Reply
  • Katie

    August 19, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Hope you feel better soon! I’ve been semi-following your blog long enough to know that you will pick yourself up out of the funk sooner or later. 🙂

    And thanks for posting this– it’s easy to minimize my accomplishments and forget that when I do triathlons I’m doing something really freaking cool but also really hard. Thanks for reminding me!

    Reply
  • Cathy

    August 19, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    It helps to remember that sometimes we just have an off workout, or off race–and that is valuable learning. I had a tough 30 mile ride one week before lake stevens recently. The ride was nowhere near LS and I quit early. I said I am not gonna do LS. But I knew I had to try, as on that day I would be thinking I quit and didn’t even try. And–it was awesome. Who knows why a ride twice as long and much more elevation went well one week later? Race adrenaline? You know if you didn’t go to louisville, all you will think about that day is the race. Go for it!!!
    And we all like reading your race reports/stories!

    Reply
  • Wendy

    August 20, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Meredith, my husband in 2009 won a lottery slot to the world championships in kona and was also entered 3 weeks later to do ironman Florida!!!
    He signed up for Florida before knowing about Kona!
    After finishing Kona he said the same thing, no way I’m doing that again in3 weeks!!
    However, he said that he promised himself that he would complete this race for all those who can’t race
    We race for our son who is autistic and we race for all those who believe that we our “crazy”
    We race when people call us selfish that we spend the money on races and not on therapy for out son
    So as you always tell us in your stories about your journey you race because it makes you better as a mom,wife, and as a person.
    Effort is between you and you!! However sometimes it helps that their our many women who truly need you to help us on a bad day:)
    My husband finished Florida ironman 3 weeks later In 2009 after Kona and he will tell you that it makes realize strength in all in you!!!!

    Reply
  • Lisa

    August 20, 2015 at 9:52 am

    All the bad things might happen but it also might be the greatest race of your life. If you keep your eye on THAT ball it makes it hard for fear to find space. Also, you finished your last Ironman while fighting a migraine through most of the distance. You’re officially a bad-ass.

    Reply
  • Janice

    August 20, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks for this post. A sad reality but I know too many women who do this to themselves on a fairly regular basis (myself included). I am currently dealing with a bit of plantar fasciitis which has left me pretty much unable to run and started to really blow up right after Raleigh. So right now I would relish in 3 miles but typically feel as though if I can’t get out for 6, why bother? Such a silly mindset. Each effort is an accomplishment depending on the circumstances. I think it is important that we continue to remind ourselves of this. Keep moving forward Meredith. I love the orange socks.

    Reply
  • CarynW

    August 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    The bar set for the “norm” is skewed.. heck yes! I was telling SBMA Sara how crazy it seems that “only” fitting in 10 – 12 hours of workouts in a week seems like not enough. Or 17-18 mph isn’t fast enough. Part of it is that when you do this kind of training, you hang around with other crazy people who do this kind of training, and it just starts to look “normal” (meanwhile, all of your non-tri friends are looking at you like “WTF?”). Even worse, because it looks normal, a light week feels like not enough!

    At some point, unless you are hard-core going after a podium spot, I think we need to step back and trust our training, and accept that it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be! I was so worried about the fact that I’d only squeezed in about 1 swim workout a week over the last few weeks, and then I had a great swim last night, and stopped and reminded myself that it was going to be ok.

    We do this because we like it. And when we stop liking it, it might be time to back off 🙂

    Always so refreshing to know that someone who did TWO FREAKING IRONMANS (Ironmen?) this year worries, too…

    Reply
  • Kelly

    August 21, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks for the Talking Heads – that was brilliant! I fight with myself every day – to get to the pool, to keep going. And I’ve learned how much is mental – we build all kinds of walls in our minds that we think we can’t get around or over or through, but then we do. I think this is the essence of your story and why so many of us connect with it. I never doubt that no matter how bad the day, the injury, the race – you will keep moving forward. Because if you don’t, your army will carry you forward. Soldier on!

    Reply
  • Alessandra Marques

    August 24, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Thank you! Just what I needed after quitting (bonking) another long run and considering quitting running for good.
    Tonight I’ll just lace my shoes and show up.
    XOXOXO from Brazil.

    Reply

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