A wise man once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy” (Theodore Roosevelt). For some reason, this quote has resonated with me recently. I believe the human nature to ‘compare’ is as innate as is our propensity towards survival. We are social beings. And in being social, especially in the world of 2017 where we’re constantly barraged by media displaying peoples ‘perfect’ moments and ‘perfect’ lives (or at least the perfection they choose to present), it’s easy to look at our own situations relative to others. It doesn’t make us bad or weak; I think it is simply natural to do so. But given that things are rarely what they appear, I believe it to be unhealthy to let ourselves be drawn towards comparison. And I don’t mean only comparison to external things that can negatively affect us. We often compare to ourselves; what we have once done, where we’ve been at some point in our lives. While it is good to have standards and healthy to strive to achieve things, I think there is also great beauty and necessity in living in the moment, appreciating the journey and staying grateful to what we have; which at times, means to even to embrace struggle, challenge and disappointment.
I’ve had the pleasure of helping guide people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds for 12+ years in the coaching realm. Some have come to me seeking to simply be healthier. Some wish to accomplish a specific goal, while others are experienced athletes striving to achieve personal bests. What I’ve learned is that every person is on their own journey, and there is immense beauty in that. At one point, every single one of us was a true beginner. We were scared. We attempted, we faltered; we got back up, we tried again, and we had a glimpse of ‘success’. There is such power in those small success’. And what we didn’t realize along the way was that each one of those small stumbles, followed by achievement, would build upon one another over time. What once was scary became familiar. The goal that was once ‘to finish’ became ‘to be faster’. It often happens imperceptibly, and while at the time it can be excruciating, and frustrating, and trying; it becomes rewarding and satisfying. Before you know it, you’ve built Your Journey. And the coolest part of this is, it is the single one of its kind. It’s unique and it’s totally yours.
I recently raced Ironman Chattanooga. I had big goals; it was a small field of women, and I felt good about my preparation; even going there a week early to familiarize with the course, settle into the town, and take the benefit physically of a bit more oxygen. My mind felt strong; my body felt healthy. I had a goal of being solidly in the Top 3. I fell short, finishing 4th. (I’ve recently become the queen of 4th place; I’ve had a ridiculous number of fourth place finishes the past two years). It wasn’t a ‘bad’ day. I exited the swim with a 3-minute lead and I’ll admit, that felt damn good. I got onto the bike and aimed to ride strong and maintain the lead as long as possible. Unfortunately, that wasn’t very long. I proceeded to get passed by many women, and per my usual style, run my ass off to claw back some places. Little did I realize when I crossed the line, I was within 5 minutes of 2nd place. That both stung and made me feel good; if that makes sense. If I’m honest, I think I’ve been giving up on myself a bit on the bike. Perhaps scared to push harder, maybe assuming that is “all I can do” when women pass me. I don’t truly believe that if I can swim and run the way I’m able to (also posting the best run split), the cycling result I’m seeing is reflective of what I’m capable of. It’s tough to admit that; it makes me feel like I’ve been weak, or negative; but in reality, it’s just me being honest, open and real. And I’ve always tried to live my life by being nothing but honest, especially with myself.
But this race – and my slew of recent 4th places – it’s all part of my journey. I’ve not put in performances lately that I’m elated with; but I will sure as hell not hang my head in pity. I have a strong and able body that has accomplished (and continues to accomplish) incredible things. I’ve battled with my own confidence, and I’ve tried my best to conquer the struggles head on. I’ve fought through frustration, and come out the other side proud of what I’ve achieved; albeit not perfect in my view, I can step back and realize life is not perfect; but life is what we make of it, and it is how we choose to react to situations. I never started racing because I wanted it to come easy. (And suffice to say, it hasn’t come easy!) But anything that means something comes with an investment of time, heart, and load of hard work. And if I’m totally honest, I love my journey, and I’ll always be proud of it; and whatever it may bring. I kind of like the not knowing. I know I love running people down. I love fighting; I love feeling so down mentally and having to dig deeper, find the positive; I love that sport has taught me to never give up, on what is possible, and on myself.
What has your journey been? Where has it taken you; where do you want it to take you in the future? It’s good to step back every so often and reflect on it. Whether it’s been smooth, or challenging; satisfying, or frustrating; I hope you can find some pride in it. Because it’s the only one of its kind in the world. And if you ask me, that’s something to be proud of.
Thank you to those who continue to support the journey: Zoot Sports, Beachbody Performance, Nulo, Road ID, Rudy Project, Durata Training, ISM, Recovery Pump Sports, State Wheels, Kogel Bearings, and Endurance Shield.