The Sting

Wow. There’s so much I want to write about — I’ve had some crazy awesome training over the past week, a bunch of it with Coach Irondad – but I have to write one thing at a time, and I have to start somewhere. So I’ll start with the first thing that comes to mind, and that is the sting of so often being the fattest and the slowest.

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As you know, my life sort of imploded this year. From August through October, I was pretty much in survival mode. I ate whatever I wanted (and didn’t track it), I barely exercised, my sleep schedule was whack, and I certainly was not using my Game Plan. Result: I gained back more than 20 pounds and lost most of my fitness.

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This makes me very sad.

But since then, things have improved. I’m settling into my new job and getting back on the wagon a little bit at a time. And I’ve been trying to take advantage of my LA Tri Club membership, because it’s easier and more fun to do long workouts with a group (and because open water swimming solo is not terribly safe).

But the truth is, I’m really not in good enough shape to keep up. I tried an ocean swim a couple of weeks ago and had to cut it short when I could no longer see the group (in fairness, I did tell them to go on without me because I didn’t want to keep holding them up). I did a group ride on PCH this past Saturday and I believe they waited for me for at least 15 minutes (maybe longer) at the turnaround point, because I rode so much more slowly than everyone else.

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Now, I’ve never been fast, and I don’t really ever expect to be. Even at my best, I was at the back of the pack. But I have to say, it really stings to be working so hard and still coming up short. The feelings always come in stages:

1) Panic as I start to fall behind. (Oh man, I can’t go at the pace they’re going! What’s going to happen?)
2) Irrational blaming of others. (Alex is pushing the pace, with those crazy long legs of his! or They said this route was going to be flat!)
3) Self-loathing. (This always happens. I am the worst. I am a fat slob. Why do I kid myself and even try these things?)
4) Ridiculous determination. (Well, I am just going to run 5 miles, uphill, every day for a year until I’m amazing and this never happens to me again!)
5) Acceptance. (Ok, I’m just gonna swallow my pride, gut it out and finish this, and try again next time.)

Now I KNOW (in my head, if not in my heart) that the last bit is the most important. I know it’s about finishing and doing my best, and not about competing with anyone besides myself. I know that the athletes and friends with whom I train are kind and compassionate people who mean it when they say that it’s ok, and they’ll wait for me, and they hope I come out again.

That doesn’t really stop it from stinging. It’s no fun, being the fattest and the slowest. The only solution, though, is to keep working at it – both my fitness, and my feelings. And that’s one of the things I love about triathlon, constantly working at pushing out of my comfort zone and becoming someone I really like.

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12 thoughts on “The Sting

  1. You see a person’s true character by how they handle getting back up on the horse. My cousin, you are fantastic. I admire your determination and your will to better yourself. Keep your head held high and know you are incredible.

  2. Great post. I can totally identify with this. After a season of athletics I still feel this way most times. Faster allot more than I was, but still really slow and plodding. Biggest difference is acceptance and a work attitude to keep pushing to be a better me. As I said, great post and great attitude.

    • That’s one of the things I love about your blog, Chatter! I know we face some of the same struggles and when I see your numbers, they’re more like mine than most of the ones I see.

      We will continue plodding along to awesomeness!

  3. I deeply relate to and sympathize with this! And I really admire how you stick with these things in the face of those difficult emotional responses. It really makes me want to quit. I love trying new things but I am usually the weakest in the group when it comes to strength and definitely the slowest swimmer! I find it mortifying (and scary when it comes to swimming!) and it’s very hard for me to get to that 5th step. I spend more of my time in the self-loathing, but I’m getting better overall, I think. Like my wise friend Gina said, “Focus on leaving things just a little better than they were before, instead of being frustrated by striving for (and falling short of) perfection.” I think I’ve done pretty well on that front. I haven’t made huge strides as an athlete, per se, but I’ve made definite progress in being comfortable with where I’m at and not giving up just because I’m not an Olympian. I set very reasonable goals (just FINISH) so I can feel a sense of accomplishment every time because my ego really needs that. If I set unrealistic expectations for myself, I find it painful when I don’t meet them. Honestly, I never saw myself doing any of this kind of stuff at all, so I try to feel proud of that and not worry so much on how much progress I’ve made (or not made), but it’s hard not to beat up on myself for not improving faster. ❤

    • I think making progress towards being more comfortable and not giving up IS athletic improvement, really. And I think you’re awesome, and I appreciate this comment! ❤

  4. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some way to find training groups by matching skill level/speed/endurance/etc.? It’s such a common discouragement, but it’s so socially difficult to advertise average mile times and such when looking for training fellows because of the “braggart”/embarrassed results.

    • I think that sometimes, and then I think what I really need is to clone myself. Because it’s impossible to match up everything (especially across three disciplines!). 😛

  5. It takes amazing courage to do something that you may not be “naturally” the best at. I’m totally impressed by your accomplishments!

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