Failure is only possible when we fail to learn from our experiences. And experiences are only created when we throw ourselves into life; sometimes we fly, others we fall; but it’s what we take from the process that creates our future.
As I fly home from Puerto Rico 703 the day after the race, with another event in a short two weeks, I find it important to gather my thoughts from the weekend; sift through them, box them up and move forward. This was my fifth time racing in San Juan. In 2011 I came away a champion, 2012 a repeat champion. 2013 saw me finish fourth, and 2015 was a DNF. And while my personal standards will always be high, I came into this one a little differently. I hadn’t even considered coming to San Juan until about a month ago. Too expensive, too early, not ready. But at times I think, if the desire is there, we need to just toss ourselves into the mix and stop overanalyzing things. And I love absolutely everything about this race. The beauty of the island, welcoming and friendly nature of the locals, the passion of the race directors Arturo and Alejandro and of course the demands the race throws at us; heat, humidity, wind, and hills. But having a quiet 2016 and a DNF here in 2015, I wanted this to be a positive experience. In no way did I see it as a ‘training race’ (I don’t do races for training) but rather, I knew that I needed to ease into each discipline. I didn’t want a repeat of my last showing here, and I was genuinely aiming to enjoy the ability to push my body; nothing more. I stripped away any and all external expectations and outcome goals. My focus was to swim strong, bike smart, and run hard. And every so often, lift my head up and look around. I also had a few very good friends there that I rarely see, whom I wanted to reconnect with and take time to visit. I wanted to enjoy their company regardless of how my race panned out. If I base my success on these goals, I came away 110% successful.
But I’m still a competitor. I’ll never walk away in 8th place and be truly elated. To reflect on my race, I figured I would share three negatives and three positives from the weekend. I’ve learned over the years that winning is awesome but it’s also nice to be able to share what goes on inside my head with others in an honest, open manner.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way. 1) I played it too safe all day. In hindsight, I should have been more aggressive in the swim and set the tone for my day. I woke up today (1 day post race) and went for a 30 min run. I can say without fail, I’ve never felt up for that the day after a half-ironman. I probably could have dug a little deeper! 2) I lacked the confidence and fearlessness to take risk. Again, given my approach, I don’t necessarily regret this, but I can acknowledge that I need to toe the line owning my inner confidence better. 3) I likely talked myself out of a top finish before I even started. While I was relaxed and excited to race, I may have thought “I hope I don’t suck” one too many times.
Positive takeaways. 1) I had a great attitude all day long; start to finish, no negative self-talk. 2) I worked with my body and the events of the day, not against them. This is something I’ve felt in some previous races; that I was fighting myself, rather than listening to what my body was telling me. I didn’t force it and I let it come to me; I felt better as I went the entire day. 3) I never once took myself out of the race. Despite being far back, I fought hard to the very end, passing girls in the closing mile of the run, staying focused on trying to run into the Top 5 (I didn’t get quite there, but I never gave up on it!)
I think it’s important to recognize our strengths and weakness; accept them and be vulnerable to them. I can come away from this one with gratitude at what my body gave me on the day and overall a positive experience of opportunity. I’ve never been to get to hung up on ‘role models’. But, I often admire and strive to emulate qualities in others whom I respect. I’ve observed other athletes bounce back from mediocre performances or setbacks, even if those span a long duration, and I’ve learned over the years never to put too much stock into a single result. Go out, give it your best, learn from it, move forward. Evolve and grow, but don’t dwell. I view this race as a good rust-buster, and it felt just like that; I blew off some cobwebs, likely played it safe, but it reminded me how much I love challenging myself and having the opportunity to compete. And outside of the race itself, I got to catch up with a few good friends that I rarely see; dip my feet in the sand, float in the ocean and refresh my soul from a beautiful part of the world. Life can be simple if we let it; keep living, keep learning, and always keep thriving.
Thank you to those who continue to support the journey: Zoot, Beachbody Performance, Road ID, Rudy Project, Nulo, Durata Training, ISM, Recovery Pump, State Wheels, Kogel Bearings, and Endurance Shield.