Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Pollyanna Is Back!!!

When faced with a dilemma, problem, or conundrum, I tend not to run away from it, but rather I like to roll it around in my head a bit and see what falls out.

Some may say, 'You are a girl, of course you have to analyze things - you ALL analyze things!'. Perhaps this is true. Whatever the reason though I do this and I find it to be a positive thing, rather than a negative. Oh, and I do catch myself when I head for that slippery slope of over analysis...because sometimes you just have to accept things for what they are.

As I wrote in my race report, this race was a difficult one, both mentally and physically. The physical part is a no brainer - I pushed myself so it hurt. I gleefully hopped on board the old pain train and took it for a ride then tumbled off of it and gladly handed back my ticket and that was that.

The mental challenge stayed with me though. I wanted to get to the root of what it was that bothered me that day and why I was bombarded with all those thoughts. Was it something I should just let go of and chalk it up to part of race day, or was it something that I needed to take and learn from.

After much pondering and consideration of the events of the day, along with reading the thoughtful comments (thank you!) and discussion with my dad and massage therapist, I think I have come to some conclusions...

The first one was that it would appear whenever I set a goal of trying to push myself to be faster etc, I am disappointed and feel icky. However, when I did IMCDA last year and I had no time goals, but rather just the goal to do it and stay present and I had the best race of my life! To this day I could not tell you my splits, just the end time and that is only because it was in glowing numbers as I crossed the finish line.

The second is that whenever I have not accepted me for who I am, I am not a happy girl. All my life I've felt a little different from others. Like when I was a wee thing I didn't speak English for the most part, I spoke Japanese. This got me into some trouble with the Grade 1 teacher to the point I'm sure she messed up the rest of my scholastic career. (That's a story for another day.)

I was the kid in school who was not the popular one, but rather the one who got picked on because I was different in some way. Beats me what they way was, but kids seem to pick up on it and then picked on me.

At one point I embraced that I was different and shaved my head, dyed it fun colours and labelled myself a punker. Heck, if people were going to think I was different then I would be. It didn't make it easier though.

There were times when I'd tried to fit in and usually it ended up in disappointment and although at the time I didn't know it, I learned later that I was unhappy because I wasn't my true self. I was trying to be something that someone else wanted.

It has only been in recent years that I've shed that characteristic of trying to be something that I'm not. Or so I thought. However, it would appear that when I took up the sport of triathlon, that characteristic, which I'm not fond of seemed to rear it's ugly head every once in a while and this weekend was one of those times.

I have come to realize that it was not the fact that I was at the back of the pack that bothered me, but the fact that I CARED that I was at the back of the pack that bothered me! I thought I'd given up caring what people thought! Drat.

So I started thinking to myself, what if I embraced the back of the pack girl in me? What if this is as good as I would get in this sport? Is that such a horrible thing? My opinion....no, it's not horrible. In fact, it's a bit of a relief!

The more I thought about going to IMC in August and just doing it because I can and not because I wanted to beat a time, or be mid pack felt really good! It was a like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I would do this race like I did IMCDA - no expectations other than to stay in the present and savour every single moment - even the ones that challenge you, such as having to go pee REALLY badly and not being near a portapotty and not having mastered peeing on your bike!

The other thing I noticed, or have been noticing lately is a shift in my values and philosophies. Some things just don't seem as important as they once did. Perhaps that's why I was having this battle in my mind, because in my heart I knew that comparing myself to others and being disappointed in being in the back of the pack just doesn't sit well with me anymore.

Today I went to see my RMT Pat. I love going to see Pat because he's one of the few people I can discuss all the things I have been learning lately about Buddhism and mindfulness. He also works on a bunch of triathletes so knows our 'type'. He has admitted I don't fit the mould. (Like I don't fit the mould of an engineer or any other mould etc etc.)

In the past six months I've been learning more about Buddhism and practicing meditation. It seems to fit with the philosophies of life that I've always known, and with the mindfulness that I've been practicing the last year plus.

I've been slowing down in my everyday life. I try to be mindful while I'm making food, eating, brushing my teeth, driving and so on. Pat made a comment somewhere along the lines that it is funny that everywhere else I am slowing down and in the race I was trying to speed up and that's when I had the monkey mind arguments happening. Huh. Interesting thought...

So those are my thoughts. I feel good about them. I feel good about my race too. It reinforces the notion that it's the race that you struggle the most in where you also learn the most. I love that!

Of course just because I'm now embracing the back of the pack girl in me doesn't mean that I'll be taking it easy and slacking with my training. On the contrary! I will continue to do the best I can with what I have. However, I will also savour the fact that I'm out there and racing just like everyone else is! Just because I'm a bit slower doesn't mean I'm any less of an athlete!

Pollyanna is back and she's found the silver lining of the race! Was there any doubt??

Peace out my positive friends!


  1. Hey there Susi, You don't know me but I came across your blog on Greg's Legend Coaching site. My name is Dan and I am one of Greg's new athletes (started in Feb). I was reading your blog tonight and could totally understand why you were feeling the way you did!

    I had run the Calgary half marathon in May and didnt get the time I really wanted. It took some words from Greg to remind me that I was doing this for fun. And I quickly realized that it was better to just enjoy the fact that I am out there then to be totally hung up on a time. Don't get me wrong..I am still gonna push myself, lol.

    Good for you for finding some peace! It takes alot of heart to keep going when you want to quit! It appears as though you have accomplished alot and I am sure you have big things ahead!


  2. Yay, glad Pollyanna is back, sheesh, I was worried....not really.

    ...and I've always had theee best races when I go in with the "I'm ready for this and I'm going to have fun" attitude. Ends up, some of my PRs have come out of that and I don't think it's a coincidence. I always strive to be 'that guy' during a race - the one that smiles, thanks a volunteer, gives a high five to a kid and encourages others. I'm NOT always successful but I try. Those are the fun times.

  3. Susi, Susi, Susi...You are someone who I think always has it figured out!! Never, ever compare yourself to anyone at anytime...you don't know what their journey has been and how they got to that very moment in time. It is impossible and will make you crazy if you start comparing. One thing I have learned from this sport is that when I start having expectations, it makes my head weird...I have more fun and enjoy it more when I just go in and hope for some good stories to tell at the end!!!

  4. Amen! I agree fully! The races I've done where i've gone in just happy to be there and have not put pressure on myself...are the ones that i've done the best in! The whole experience of being out there and doing what you love with the people that love it as much as you is my favorite thing!

  5. YAY! I am so glad to see Pollyanna again. LOL at the first part of this about being over-analytical and aren't we all? I definitely am, to the point where it takes me 25 minutes to decide what cereal to buy at the grocery store, so I really enjoyed reading your points and seeing the evolution of your thought process.

    You have come to a lot of important conclusions. AND I cannot beleive that English is not your first langauge and I want to come up there and kick that 1st grade teacher's arse. I can't believe the way some teachers treat kids who don't fit into the mainstream...but like you said, another story for another day.

    Anyhoots, sounds like you're on to greener pastures my friend and I am so glad too because I love reading about all of your adventures. Even the ones involving Meatloaf :).


  6. Susi, yay!!! I love this post! I'm so glad you saw the silver lining. Remember to always find the fun in what we are doing. I find taking the time to enjoy the scenery on the bike or the run is what is most fulfilling. I've seen parts of this province in the last few months that I have never seen before. I think if you race with the spirit that you want to savour every moment you will have an amazing day.

    Welcome back Polyanna!!!