"The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves, but in our attitude towards them." ~ Antoine de Saint Exupery
Ever have a feeling that the Universe is testing you? I swear, there are times when I think that's all it ever does to me. 'Are you SURE this is what you believe?' 'Are you SURE these are your values?' 'Really, really sure???'
But before I get all deep, a brief recap of the week. I had my chi running class on Wednesday night and loved it. I learned how to run up a very step hill rather effortlessly. Granted, you do a bit of a side step and perhaps you look a little bit different from the rest of the runners going up the same steep hill in the traditional way, but it really works. Therefore I will employ this practice, and did so today on my run.
I also learned something - I really enjoy training with a group of people. Typically I train alone - just for scheduling convenience sake - but I have noticed that this year I don't always have the motivation to get out there for my evening workouts. I realized that what I need is a buddy or two to help me get out for my evening run workouts.
Therefore, I recruited my buddy Esther to come out with me and run up and down stairs on Thursday afternoon. We had an absolute blast out there even though we were sucking wind big time. We did 4 sets of stairs (each set being running up and down the stairs 6 times). After a set of stairs we ran fast for 5 minutes. I loved the stairs, but the running fast didn't go as well as my hip was really feeling it.
Then my shins got in on the action, reminding me it was time for new sneakers! Which I picked up on Saturday. I had one new sneaker on and one old sneaker on and that's how I realized I had absolutely no cushion left in the old sneaker. Whoops! Well now, that would explain my hip and shin complaints!
Saturday turned out to be a very interesting day for me. I was in a bit of a grumpy mood. I don't know about you, but with the approach of a race that means a lot, one such as Ironman, I start to think more. Granted, I am a thinker and tend to ponder thoughts on a fairly regular basis. Lately though, the thoughts have really been gnawing at me and they started to make me grumpy.
Of course, when one is grumpy they start to shoot off little sparks of negative energy. And you know what happens when that is going off...you attract people with negative energy. Eek! I was totally aware of this when I went into the first shoe store looking for my trusty sneakers. That's when this youngin' came up to me and asked if I needed assistance.
I said I needed this shoe and showed him the shoe. Then I picked up this purple set of Brooks that I spotted. He commented that was a neutral shoe and the shoe I was wearing was a stabilizer. I mentioned that I was interested in barefoot running and perhaps going to a neutral shoe might be a good start. (Just a note here - I realize that buying a neutral shoe right before an Ironman race is not a smart move, hence I wasn't going to do it, I was just pondering...it was tempting though as the shoe was purple.)
So Mr. Smartypants Shoe Youngin says to me in a sarcastic tone 'Oh, has someone told you that thats good for you or something?' (Another note, the salespeople in this store are all foot specialists in training from the University; therefore I'm sure they want to keep the world in expensive stabilzer, highly cushioned shoes rather than having people run barefoot and strengthen their feet thereby reducing the need for said shoes. That's just my theory of course.) See what I mean about attracting what you are exuding. I was all snotty and grumpy and got that in return.
I turn to Mr. Smartypants Shoe Youngin and very coldly state 'I LIKE barefoot running, that's why I am trying to transitition to it.' End of conversation, get me my shoe.
I didn't end up buying shoes from there. They didn't have my size. I also tried to adjust my attitude before I went into the next shoe store because I really didn't want to attract more of the same stuff. (I did end up getting the shoe I needed at the next store, with less drama...but not much less.)
So I'm driving home and my stomach starts to churn. This is the Susi Early Warning Signal that I have something going round and round in my subconscious that I need to snap awake and start paying attention to. So I did.
Here's what I came up with. This year has been a very trying year of training. Pretty normal in the course of doing an Ironman I think. Some years are a breeze, some years test you more. I firmly believe that the years that test you more are where you learn and grow as both an athlete and a human being. So even though it's been a bit rough, I've welcomed it.
I've been questioning my 'readiness' for this race lately because of the consistency of my training. There has been more fatigue and injuries this year, not to mention two great losses in my life, therefore the lack of consistency. That questioning has been treading into my belief system. To go into this would need several paragraphs, of which I don't feel I need to spell out right now. Suffice it to say, I think I go about endurance racing in a different manner from 98% of the racing population.
This of course can be daunting at times. We are bombarded with articles on how to race, and coaches thoughts on how to race and even other athletes ideas on how to race. And if you don't share those philosophies you can sometimes end up questioning yourself - especially as you get nearer to race day. Not entirely a bad thing, but after doing it over and over, it gets rather annoying. So does having the Universe question you on it.
I'm sure this is all rather confusing to you the reader at this point - hang in there. Anyways, I'm driving home and I am thinking to myself, 'You are going to be fine in this race. If you are concerned about how you are going to do based on the training you've done, then you are getting wrapped up in other peoples expectations again.' Which is when I got ticked off at myself. I do not want to be caught up in what other peoples idea of a good race is, yet sometimes you ever so slowly fall into that thought pattern.
Once again, I felt as if I was being challenged on my beliefs. In my gut, I know how I want to race Ironman. I will acknowledge that I'm a little worried, but in a very healthy way. Ironman is to be respected.
So with all this going through my head, I get back into town and head to the florist. I wanted to get some flowers for my friend Leslie who cracked her ankle bone the day before, thereby tossing out her marathon race goal. A major bummer, but one she is handling with the most positive of attitudes. This is why she is one of my life mentors!
I'd never been in this florist before, but had received flowers from there so I knew they had nice stuff. I now think of it as the mystical florist. As I walked in I was greeted by what can best be described as an angelic burst of energy in the disguise of a tiny 66 year old woman named Jane. I told her what I was there for and why and she said 'When things like this happen you have to just go with it and let your spirit dance, cause things like this do happen.'
Intersting theory. Then she started talking about some other things and about energy and spirit. She started telling me her story, which was fascinating. And I started telling her my story. Some of the topics were about Ironman and Tigger, fears I had about the race as well as thoughts I had recently.
I must admit, when I first got in there I just wanted to get my stuff and go. The more Jane talked though, the more I knew I needed to listen. Someone had brought me to her because what she was saying was exactly what I needed to hear at that exact moment.
We talked about SO many things. The more we talked, the more I gained clarity and strength in my beliefs. It was amazing. I had gone into the flower shop having a grumpy day and questioning myself. An hour later I left with a handful of gorgeous flowers and a renewed brightness in my spirit.
Jane gave me a big hug as I left and asked me to come back after the race to let her know how it went. I can't wait to go back in there and share all my stories!
Training for an Ironman, or any endurance event, can be more than just swimming, biking, and running. If you are open to it, it can be a growth process. One that gives you more than just a medal at the finish line. Even though that medal is really freakin awesome!
I am ever thankful for all the things I've learned along the way, even if it sometimes can be a very trying task.
Peace out my beautiful friends. Here's to taper time!